Sunday, June 29, 2008

Soul Mate or Stalemate?

"Guess who I've been talking to?" my friend Nate asked, somewhat sheepishly.

I looked puzzled for a moment.

"You probably won't be happy about it..." he clued.

"Oh... her." I said trying to hide the cringe in my voice regarding his on / off relationship of the past few years.

"She wants to get back together. I just don't know. Part of me really wants to." he admitted.

"But what about all that crazy stuff that happened?" I asked him wide eyed.

"It's so hard to find people with the same values as you. And, I feel like we're soul mates." he said.

"You probably are," I mused.

I smiled and thought of another passage from Eat, Pray, Love. One that illuminated the meaning of the ephemeral line "soul mates" quite well for me. As the author was conflicted with the thought of ending a relationship with a lover in which she had been involved in an emotionally intense on-again/off-again relationship, she said he felt like her soul mate. Her conversation partner at the ashram replied with this passage:

"He probably was. Your problem is that you don't understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too Painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it."

The question arises: At what point do our soul mates become stalemates?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Soulmate is one of those words that is assumed to be interpreted by everyone in the same way but there's no practical way to pin it down to a single meaning. I think most people think first of the mythical being who's so often romanticized in movies an literature. This Soulmate is an angel on vacation from Heaven. A princess from yon guarded tower. Mary Poppins on a Harley. We dream of this person and look for and find her in those we love. The on again/off again cycle comes from fitting this chimera into a real person and then releasing her again. We have infinite ideals but finite capacities.

Maybe an actual soulmate is created, not found. In choosing to give our affection, trust or love away we should also be choosing to accept the friction that two imperfect bodies are wont to generate. We're not diamonds waiting to be unearthed but rough stones ready to be polished. Countless people are going to move through your life and teach you about yourself. The lessons can be hurtful and probably won't come from someone you'd call a soulmate but you'll learn them nonetheless. Maybe our soulmates should be ones who let us treasure that friction that's going to sand us smooth so we can yearn for the lessons, knowing that it may hurt, trusting that the wounds are inflicted without malice and choosing to give love at all times.