I realize this is a slippery slope kind of question. If E Harmony does not restore my faith in male kind or more importantly in the idea of compassion and partnership will I begin trolling Craigslist for love? I can only say I hope not. I hope that I do not begin to think the game of looking for love is more important than actually finding love. I know people who do this and collect stories of their miserable dating lives and seem to treasure that more than creating a loving and fun partnership. I don’t think I’ll do that. I don’t like dating that much and I certainly don’t enjoy miserable dating. But the larger question is why would I go from “No thank you. No really- no thanks..I’m not now or ever going to be in a “relationship” (funny since we are always in relationship to something..but romance is considered the big r somehow) to E Harmony? I have no better answer than I think it’s time.
It’s time for many things. I’ve gone through the monk stage (quite literally I became a monk for a short stay) and also the self punishing penance stage with the brutal odd jobs and begging bowl and I’m thinking while the first noble truth of Zen is that there is suffering it does not mean I must spend my life beating myself up to become a better person. I might like to enjoy a good walk and some stream wading with someone else or wine tasting or a solid afternoon of learning something new that a new person shows up with. It’d be good to like that without my guard up.
I have learned from all my recent pains. I have picked up on a few things: it’s good to have things in common with another person as a starting point and those things must be core items, it’s essential to have fun with that person, if that person counters everything you say in an argument or uses it as a jumping off point to launch into a story which either shows how much cooler they are than you or how much more they’ve suffered–that may be a pass. If the goal of the conversation is to impress or show how impermeable they are–that’s also a no go unless you’re interviewing them to be an Eagle Scout. When I say I’m seeking warts and all I actually mean it. Now..if your warts may cause you to be arrested or tossed in rehab I honor your struggle but we’re probably moving on too. That’s fair..right?
The funny thing is that I arrived at these modest yet stunningly difficult conclusions not by dating or thinking about dating. I reached them through cutting dozens of carrots, sitting without movement in a quiet Zendo waiting for a bell to release me because my legs locked up and my back went numb, going out of communication with the people I love for weeks at a time and wondering if they would forget me, clearing brush for hours in the heat of the day for mind bending weeks at a time until I wondered if I would ever be able to hum Ravel again since the only sounds in my head were Oh God the sweat stings or how will my hands hold up? I struggled with myself in every conceivable way from blisters covering my feet to bouts of crying that shook the walls and my soul. I did not expect to want to restore my faith in something as juvenile as romance but that’s what showed up with all its longing and honesty–eventually.
I was not putting myself through this to find a romantic partner but to find the truth of me and then more importantly to learn and actually feel how we are all connected. I wanted the ultimate love that grows naturally between me and the beautiful Universe and everything in it. Through that ridiculously ambitious hope I found big love many times in a truly mystical way. There was the time I felt myself floating as easily as a feather or breaking into tears at the knobby roots of an old tree or how I literally and accidentally bumped into the old Zen master and without any explanation stayed up for nights writing koans and poems entirely exhilarated. But I also found myself focusing on the small love of everyday, the appreciation of the snail and the breeze that comes just in time. I found joy springing up at the oddest times where joy seemed almost the wrong reaction and through this I realized that all things are possible and worthy–even something as unknown to me in recent years as actual, real life romantic love that is given and returned equally.
I began thinking that it’s time to put down the begging bowl and trials from this shamanic like walk and move on to the easy happiness of life. There is so much. It is simple yet challenging to see new beauty in a familiar face or to smell the grass of the lawn you’ve stepped on hundreds of times unless you’ve been deprived of those things. It is natural to forget to notice things until they are gone and you crave them like the smell and feel of soap when your skin is so dirty the wrinkles are stained in your hands. I will never think of a warm shower or a movie and popcorn the same way again. I will never forget the gratitude of waking up and stretching without pain or throwing on comfortable clothes and going nowhere in particular with a couple bucks in my pocket. It’s been a while on all these things. So now I have the nerve to consider I’d like to enjoy those things again and I’d even like to enjoy them in the company of a nice person who looks cute to me and one day may want to hold my hand.
Why not? If we can all be made of stardust isn’t anything possible? I don’t know but I suppose E Harmony will be one way of finding out. If you want I’ll take you along and that way we can cry, laugh and/or marvel together. Heck we may wind up sitting alone on that wonderful grass but either way I’m sure we’ll be happy. So come if you want–I’ll keep you posted.