I just re-watched “Shall We Dance” with Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Lopez. Call me corny but I like it. Well ,to be honest, I like most movies that have a decent amount of dancing in them. I love music and I love watching people who can express themselves through music or with music or in music. In my life I have learned piano, viola and flute. I have tried singing lessons and I have enviously watched drummers, guitarists and trumpet players. I love French Horns and tubas make me giggle.
Life needs a soundtrack. Music is, for my soul, as a good cup of tea is for my body.
Anyway…. back to “Shall We Dance”. The Susan Sarandon character, when asked why people get married, says that everybody needs a witness to their lives. When you promise to marry somebody, you are promising to witness their life which, in effect, gives their life an extra reason, an extra value. That idea resonates deeply with me.
Life can often make you feel invisible. Your kids don’t respond to you. Your conversations don’t go the way you expect them to. You smile and get nothing back. It doesn’t take much.
My brother’s wedding was 11 days after the birth of my first child. P and I managed to attend for an hour or so, me a nervous new mother ,with my tiny little girl in my arms, wearing a voluminous maternity dress. But we left very early and hence, when the photos came out, I was missing from them. It was nobody’s fault but even now it makes me sad.
Sometimes I think I have been a good friend to somebody and then I discover that there is a whole part of them I never guessed at or understood. I feel like if I had just thought a bit more deeply or tried a bit more carefully, I might’ve been there for that person. I might have really mattered
I will compose an email or a poem and think that my writing contains the very pearl in the oyster of my thoughts but, almost invariably, the responses I get show that my words have not affected others they way I expected them to. I guess that’s why I never understood electric circuits. Ha ha. If the human brain is compared with a bunch of wires, my careful arrangement of wires (thoughts) and transistors (words) only occasionally succeeds in turning on the light bulb at the other end.
I can draft and redraft writing but I can’t do that with live interactions. I am stuck in my own head with my slow-firing reaction times. Maybe those friends I mentioned have tried to tell me about themselves and my light bulb hasn’t pinged. It seems to me that the power of empathy is mostly so limited by the scope of one’s own experience. That’s why having a life partner is so valuable. Because you share life and therefore your experiences coincide and you have the opportunity to truly empathise and therefore to truly matter.
Of course it doesn’t always mesh. Nobody is perfect. But the opportunities are there every day and when it works, a million perfect Hollywood rosebuds couldn’t express the supreme wonder of having somebody around who gets you, accepts you and knows where you are in your life.
Life partnership is your best chance at light bulbs that turn on.