This article makes as much sense as all the other books and articles I’ve read, combine. A snippet: “Frieda Duntmore, a thirty-nine-year-old Baltimore-high-school teacher and the mother of twin six-year-old girls, recounted standing in line at a supermarket, reading a magazine article about how being a parent sucked, and then recalling that, that very morning, she’d read another article, which said that being a parent was awesome, and that anyone who didn’t have kids might as well just take their own life.” Click here to read.
The other day I read this: “Yesterday is gone.” Is it? Is the past, past? No.
Nothing is as absurd than the idea that the past doesn’t exist.
Yesterday is not gone. It lives. In your memory. In my memory.
The past is a part of the present. (If you are going to comment on this post, you must go back into the past to remember what I wrote.)
Some peddle the cute idea: forget the past. Okay. Try all you want. Grind your teeth and hold your breath and strain with all your might. Try to forget those most painful words or actions. Try and forget those moments of near bliss.
You might for a minute or two—at best a few hours.
Faulkner was right: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
I prefer to have the past help shape my present, and prepare for my future.
I friend once told me, “The past is a good place to visit, but not a good place to live.” I like that.
The past is here. Now.
My running field trip today in the barrios of Old Town Orange. My family has deep roots right here, where my father, a “light” Mexican, attended a white elementary school in the 1940’s and, because of the privilege of not being darker, avoided being shipped to the school for the dark skinned kids. Segregation right here in The OC. Along train tracks and metal industrial buildings and barred windows, it felt like home. Sorry, suburban Orange County. Sorry Anaheim Hills and Newport Beach and Irvine, you can’t do this to me.
“Half the women I know are very unhappy in their marriages; the other half are having affairs.” A friend told me this the other day. A married friend. She was sincere. I heard distress in her voice.
She got me thinking. Of relationships. Of monogamy. Of marriage.
Being a single man who was married for years, I see marriages today in a different light. And I have a unique perspective these days because I was single, then I was married for 17 years and now I’m single again. I know what it’s like to be married.
And I believe in marriage. But, I confess, I’m skeptical.
Mostly, I’m struck by the drive in all of us. The drive to be known. The drive to find love. The drive to settle down. The drive for a lifelong partner.
Everybody wants a lifelong partner. Or, most people do.
But once that lifelong commitment is finally made—usually after years, of vetting, chaos, drama, uncertainty, fear, games (also known as dating)—most come to regret that commitment.
Ten years ago I was having a drink with my friend, Steve. He was married. He was happily married. Steve and his wife mentored married couples in their Roman Catholic church. They took personal vacation time to volunteer with a ministry called Marriage Encounter, a retreat to help strengthen marriages.
“Paul, you have no idea! Marriages are falling apart. About half of all marriages end in divorce. The other fifty percent? Most of those are struggling. I know. Those are the ones me and my wife try to help.” Steve went on. “Truth be told, Paul, we help very few. The institution of marriage is in big trouble.”
I’m not saying that happy marriages don’t exist. Mine was great for 13 years. I’ve seen many. You have, too. You know those marriages when you see them because couples who are happily married, both husband and wife, always talk about how in love they are.
But far more marriages are not happy ones.
Studies show that more and more are turning to the open relationship. These people know the facts on infidelity and divorce. They see the constraints associated with marriage. And they avoid it.
In her piece in The New York Times, When an Open Relationship Comes at a Price, Eliza Kennedy tells a sobering tale. She opted for an open relationship. But it didn’t work.
Eventually ditching her boyfriend, she fell in love, and got married. The ex-open relationship-partner-turned-monogamous-advocate writes, “…the wreckage of monogamous relationships lies all around us. The notion that they’re somehow more stable than open ones is an illusion. Not because monogamy is unsafe, but because all romantic love is. It’s powerful and thrilling. It’s also terrifying.”
As we all try to figure out love, romance, and commitment, I’m going to go with Kennedy’s words. Monogamy is powerful and thrilling. It’s what we all want.
But it’s unsafe; romantic love is unsafe.
There are risks.
You can be burned. Who wants to be burned?