Walking away is not an option... dialogue must prevail.

"A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with."
- Kenneth A. Wells

"I do not want the peace that passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace."
- Helen Keller

Friday, September 25, 2009

The more things change... accidental thoughts

So... I was watching “Fiddler on the Roof”. It’s one of those “have to watch" movies for me. You know, you flip channels and it doesn’t matter where it’s at in the storyline, you still "have to watch" it.

I love this movie. I love the songs, and the characters. I love the story… Tevye the milkman, the patriarch of a poor Jewish family in pre-Revolutionary Russia, explains traditions and is faced with marrying off his three oldest daughters.

During a commercial break, I went over to the computer to check e-mails and I figured I’d empty the spam folder on my e-mail account. I empty it every day. I check it just to make sure actual “for real” non-spam e-mails don't end up in there. As I quickly scanned the “FROM” field, I saw that one of them was from a dating website and this lead to one of my "thinking" episodes... you know, the accidental kind.

At least three times a week, there's an offer from some online dating service... the “Fiddler on the Roof” Yentes (the Matchmaker) of the 21st century.

There are many different kinds of them, these dating services. There are some that make you answer questionnaires in 26 parts and then run match algorithms to find the most compatible candidate. There are some with pictures and short profiles that talk of loves (walks on the beach, whiskers on kittens, snowflakes on eyelashes, blah blah blah) where you browse and pick from the profiles of men/women whose faces are appealing, and so on...

Bottom line is, on some of these, people get “matched” based on what we think of as dimensions of compatibility. Just like the matchmakers of yore. Actually, matchmakers are still a part of Orthodox traditions, and they’re found in many cultures to this day.

It’s interesting really, which factors are considered to determine the best matches. The stuff that will determine whether the relationship will evolve towards a commitment and have a shot at surviving.
Compatibility… Possible life mates picked based on personality traits. The Matchmakers based themselves on things like education, family history, degree of religious observance, financials…

“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how
compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”

-Leo Tolstoy

Then there’s the notion of romantic love. Flies in the face of traditional matchmaking, it does… imagine, picking your spouse by the butterflies in your stomach.

But it’s what Tevye’s daughters do. They marry for love.

This is my favourite song of the movie… Tevye has just told Golde, his wife, that their daughter Hodel is marrying a man she has fallen in love with and chosen for herself, not a man chosen for her following the long-established tradition of matchmaking and arranged marriages as they themselves were thrown together.
Tevye has two daughters who have picked spouses for love... and it prompts him to ask himself something he's never considered.
In this moment, Tevye, after 25 years of marriage, asks Golde if she loves him...

And so I thought. It doesn’t matter how people find their way to their life mates… but that the commitment survives what life throws at us and that love is given a chance to grow, and flourish.

Some time ago, Ann Meara had this to say of her decades old marriage in an interview in The New York Times:
"Was it love at first sight? It wasn't then - but it sure is now."

Lately, I've tried to help some friends struggling with the survival of their marriage, witnessed friends embarking on a journey, rejoiced over another anniversary with people I love like family.

No matter how it starts (a slap behind the head, a glance across a room, a questionnaire, the matchmaker...), I guess it's whether or not we love the one we're with and commit to a life together, to each other and to surviving the obstacles we face along the way that determines the best matches. What do you think?

"I knew couples who’d been married almost forever – forty, fifty, sixty years. Seventy-two, in one case. They’d be tending each other’s illnesses, filling in each other’s faulty memories, dealing with the money troubles or the daughter’s suicide, or the grandson’s drug addiction. And I was beginning to suspect that it made no difference whether they’d married the right person. Finally, you’re just with who you’re with. You’ve signed on with her, put in a half century with her, grown to know her as well as you know yourself or even better, and she’s become the right person. Or the only person, might be more to the point. I wish someone had told me that earlier. I’d have hung on then; I swear I would."
Anne Tyler, "A Patchwork Planet"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy birthday my love

"If the sun refused to shine,
I would still be loving you.
When mountains crumble to the sea,
there will still be you and me"

Four years ago on this day, our instructor finally got around to breaking up our classroom into groups and we were thrown together. It was the last day of the best seminar I ever attended in my life *wink*. I'd spent the last couple of days finding myself looking sideways at you, hoping you wouldn't notice. Wondering what the hell I was doing, and knowing it was crazy but being drawn to you nonetheless. It was as if something in you held all the answers to the all questions I had always asked myself. I had listened quietly a few days earlier as you recounted, during a mid-morning break from class, heading to the southern shores of Alabama to assist in the search and rescue efforts after hurricane Katrina and I admired that.

I remember wishing you a happy birthday after one of your collegues let it slip and resisting the natural French instinct to plant a kiss on your cheek as I did so - Americans don't just smooch strangers, right?

I remember watching you go right to work on our group's assignment and knowing you were damn good at your job.

Later on, I managed to sucker you into presenting our group's ergonomic design project (ours was THE best)- I knew you were a gentleman who couldn't resist a woman's batting eyelashes. I was given a chance at that moment to just sit back and watch you. You rocked, once again.

After it was all said and done, the seminar finally came to an end. We wished each other a safe trip home. I watched you walk out of the room knowing I had met one of those wonderful men that makes a difference in the world.

Some force in the universe threw us together that week four years ago... and we kept finding our way back to each other even though we were thousands of miles apart. I would never have thought then, even if I knew you had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen on a man, that the moment I would end up in your arms I would know what it is to really be home.

We still have a long and difficult journey ahead, but no mountain, no sea, no desert can hold me back... somehow we'll make it. Just hold on.

Thank you for loving me the way no one ever has...

Monday, September 21, 2009

World Peace Day

It seems an ominous task, World Peace.

And no, I'm not participating in a pageant...

I just want the world to be a better place for my child.

So as we strive for World Peace, start in your heart, in your home, in your workplace, in your car (be nice and control the road rage), in your school (that's for my Chicklet), at the market, ...

and maybe it'll catch on.

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

-- Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I was thinking...

... not on purpose. It just happened.

Early Saturday morning, the sun is out, my pre-teen child is holed up in the basement playing Wii (when I was a kid it was Atari...), and I sat down with a cup of coffee to watch a movie I’ve wanted to watch for a while and never caught from the beginning: “Definitely, Maybe”…

The opening scene then got me to thinking. You see, in this scene, as the main character steps out of his office building to walk to his daughter’s school, he talks about finding just the right song for the moment, the day, the walk…

It’s not the song that got me thinking, or even the sentiment.

It’s the MP3 player he had in his hand, the buds in his ears.

While technology is cool, and it has made it possible for someone in the Szechuan province of China to control your house lights via the internet

While it brings a wolf from Washington State into my life and turns him into my bro… Technology can also isolate us. Cut us off from shared human experience.


Well, in a way, the MP3 player cuts us off from the world.

You see, I’m a child of the 80s. I remember boom boxes. I remember walking down a street and discovering a new song because some cute guy was blaring it for all to hear. It started conversations, caused people to break out and dance, or at least tap their feet and bob their heads.

Without the boom box, Lloyd Dobler wouldn’t have had that magical moment… and Starrlight and I, along with millions of other girls and women wouldn’t have that sigh-worthy moment.

Don't get me wrong. I have an iPod and I love it. Easy access to music, random mixes that go from Van Morrison, to David Gray, to Led Zeppelin, to Peter Gabriel, to The Smiths, to Flogging Moly and so on...


Do you miss walking down a city street and hearing an eclectic mix of music not of your design? Do you miss having someone walk by with a boom box blaring and feeling the bass line vibrate in your chest? Do you miss having a song stick in your head until the next boombox feeds you?

I do. The boom box... it was like getting a mix tape.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

a wish for friends...

A marriage...

What is a marriage?

I'm not talking about a wedding, no. I mean everything that comes after the confetti have been scattered, the last dance has been danced, after the last guest leaves with a piece of wedding CAKE to put under their pillow (strange custom this, but hey... it's about sweet dreams, I guess).

A marriage, is about the lives that begin... no, not begin... It's about the new course that is set for two souls, when two lives are joined.
The voyage that is undertaken from that moment where a promise is spoken, a band exchanged, will hopefully be a long one. A voyage filled with many ports of call and adventures, starry nights, soft gentle waves, and hopefully, very few storms with no one falling overboard.

For Vince and Nancy...

May the friendship you share be strong
and may your love for each other stay true.
And may you not only make each other happy,
but may you be each other's comfort
at the end of a long day.

by Ernie Halter