Looking for that Mister or Miss Right? Wondering why another Valentine’s Day rolled around and he or she wasn’t there? Read on and comment!
I’ll begin with an aside:
I laugh when I realize that it’s a FULL TWO YEARS after my decision to write a daily journal in Evernote (the digital note-taking app in which I’m writing this blog) that I actually follow up with my second post. I could say this means that Evernote is not, in fact, the best place for a daily journal, but a more true assessment would be to conclude that such a gap of time is simply a consequence of me being not the best journal writer.
Moments like these I realize I’m not in my first conundrum regarding journals, or writing, or romance, or life.
But I think the bigger realization to me right now, on this, yet another Valentine’s Day, is that it might be time to withdraw, slightly, from what has been my consistent and persistent search for a mate. I’ve always been a romantic, I love to flirt, I love the fire of a new relationship, and I really like people. And as I’ve grown into myself, my career, and my talents, wooing the ladies has become, well, easier.
Yet I think that a slight withdrawal from such an enticing search is perhaps the best move I can make if I want my life to change for the better.
My romantic life is probably not that odd, after all
My romantic life (as a single man) is probably a lot like any other single person’s (we all think we’re so special and unique, but such thoughts are likely just efforts to fuel our own egos). I find that my romantic situations in life have most often been some mixture of the following polarities:
Either I’m playing the field of attractive, interesting women in the world, or I’m actively pursuing one of them.
Either she’s into me, or she’s not.
Either I’m into her for the right (lasting) reasons, or I’m not.
Either I’ve stacked the cards in my favor; I’ve found someone who is accessible, emotionally and/or geographically, or I’ve not.
In the latter case in which I haven’t stacked the cards in my favor, I’m often romanced by the difficulty of the situation, subconsciously thinking that the lack of accessibility (emotional or geographic) adds to the challenge and thus increases the romantic payout should I be successful.
But the truth is, even when all the things line up in my favor, there’s a discomfort that rears its ugly head when I get close to commitment.
Commitment is scary, but not the problem
Just to be fair, when the opportunity for commitment comes around, most of us realize that our lives would be irrevocably changed were we to commit. One’s life will always change with commitment. And that’s ok! Commitment is about a joining of lives, a sacrifice of options, and it’s often exactly what’s needed to create a lasting, healthy, monogamous relationship with another person.
And when I DON’T stack the cards in my favor (when I find women who are not geographically available, for example), the choice to commit will change my life in even larger ways (the realities of a long-distance relationship, the eventuality of one of us uprooting our life for the other, etc.)
Those are big changes. Again, not wrong. Just big.
But there’s this other change, this less obvious change, that really scares me.
I’m not yet the ME I want to be
It’s the realization that by committing the resources necessary to the relationship (time, emotional energy, money, etc.) I am very likely losing the opportunity to create the life I want for me, first, before bringing someone else into it. I’m losing the chance to change, to grow, to actually achieve what I want to do in life (or at least take the right steps to start the process), because I’ve, for so long, placed the search for a relationship first.
This is, perhaps, my biggest fear. Both in relationships and without.
The truth is, I’m not doing, in a daily way, what I feel I am meant to do in life; those things which, with their very doing, release inside of me a fountain of energy and into which I can pour hours as if they were moments.
I’m not consistently doing those things that bring out the best in me.
Such passions are different for all of us, and I hope you know what yours are. For me, they are writing, creating and performing music, making art, talking philosophy, and learning and speaking the languages of the world. They’re the same topics for which I created this blog, five years ago.
And I don’t do them enough; that’s the problem. The number of articles in this blog is proof. One article, written five years ago, exploring the difference between linear and non-linear thinking gets over three-thousand visits per month. I’m serious. Google “linear thinking” and I’ll be at the top of the list. As a marketer, I know that’s not easy to do. And yet, until now, I never followed it up with another article.
Ultimately, I’m not pursuing my passions to the degree to which I’m meant.
I can feel it in my bones.
Living on the full rush of energy
Were I to dive into my passions I would, as Joseph Campbell puts it, “live with godlike composure, on the full rush of energy, like Dionysus riding the leopard.”
How do I know this?
Simple: I know how these passions make me feel when I pursue them. And I know how I feel when I don’t.
And again, to some extent, I AM pursuing them. I’m learning French. I play in a band. I get to write and create and philosophize at work. But in general I’ve been too lazy and too scared to make the real changes. To dive in. Me writing right now is more than I’ve written in a long time, and it’s the beginning of something new.
I hold myself back from those big dreams because I’m caught up in the smaller pursuits, one of which is the “search” for a mate. Others include making more and more money, maintaining my social status, refining my looks and expanding my possessions. To be even more honest, I hold myself back from my big dreams for fear of what others think, and for fear of losing the status I’ve built in my smaller pursuits.
Fill up your jar with the stones
There’s the metaphor of the jar. A jar can be filled with stones and appear full. But add pebbles and you’ll realize there was more space to fill. Then add sand and you’ll realize there was even more space. Finally, add water and you’ll realize that now the jar is indeed full.
But the additions of elements can only work if you add them largest to smallest. If you’d added water first, you’d never be able to add anything larger without overflowing the jar.
The jar is representative of life (or perhaps of the limited amount of time in life we’re given). Fill your time with all the trivial things first (pebbles, sand, water), and you’ll never be able to fit in your true goals and passions (the stones).
Have I been good at living life like this? Not really. I forget, on a daily basis, to fill my jar with the stones first. Every minute on Facebook is a minute I could be spending on something meaningful. Every movie I watch is two hours in which I could have been creating music or art or studying language.
What makes YOU feel like a god?
Sure, you can take issue with my choice of priorities, how I rank what is trivial and what isn’t. And your passions may be wholly different than mine (I don’t expect you to love languages or performing like I do). That’s natural – we’re different people.
I only ask you to honestly ask yourself one question:
What in life do you do, from which you come away feeling relaxed and yet energized, feeling accomplished but not egotistic, feeling inspired and at peace, feeling godlike?
For me, it’s languages and music and art and writing. Few other things leave me in such calm rapture. What are yours?
The other things in my life are phantasms, trivial ghosts that trick me into thinking they’ll be fulfilling. Sipping rye whiskey after a hard day’s work is nice, but it leaves me uninspired to create. Watching a movie or checking what my friends are doing on Facebook are very rarely as fulfilling as listening to or making music. Flirting for the sake of flirting is exciting, but it’s just an ego boost.
Trivial, when compared to the big passions of life.
And worse, these trivial things often actually ADD to my discomfort, to that feeling that I don’t have enough, that I’m not enough, that I need more and more.
Why I continue to do them is a testament to how powerful our minds are; how much we rely on our thoughts and brains (biological patterns conditioned by our life’s experiences) to make our decisions. That’s a topic of another discussion, but it’s true.
The right partner will fit your passions
Finding a life partner should not be considered a trivial aspect of life, but I have a growing suspicion that it simply happens when it happens, and one’s real goal is to be as authentic to oneself, to have created the most authentic life possible, such that the addition of a life partner will be the addition of a person who truly fits you at your best.
Conversely, find someone who fits you at your worst, or you at your most trivial, and you’ll soon realize that it’s even more difficult for you to change into that person you truly want to be, because you’re with someone who wanted you for who you were when they met you. They won’t necessarily want you to change, and you won’t have the resources to do so when you realize you’ve been inauthentic.
Instead find yourself, find your passions, and create your life in the image of “the grandest version of the greatest vision” (as Neale Donald Walsch so loves to say), and you’ll be ready to find that person who accepts you not just for who you are today, but for who you truly strive to be.
If you’ve gotten this far, you may think I’m struggling. The truth is I’m in one of the best spots in life I’ve ever been: increasingly accepting of life and of who I am (as much as any of us can really know who we are), and I’m more willing than ever to pursue that grand vision, following my bliss. I just tend to think in words, and I hope that by opening myself up in a public way, others may see themselves in me (as I’ve seen myself in the many others from whom I’ve learned throughout my years).
In the end, Valentine’s Day is about love, and the expression thereof. I’m in love with life and those around me. I’m blessed to be here, and I hope you feel the same.
~ Cecil “Chuck” McCumber
PS. I just moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting professionally, and my band’s self-titled debut album, “The Pretty Unknown” was just released!
What kind of music is it?
It’s like if Taylor Swift was the surrogate mother for Michael Bublé and Sarah McLachlan’s love child. Then they raised the child listening The Beach Boys and The Beatles. That’s a technical critique.
So if you’ve found the above article at all entertaining, please considering listening to some of our songs. If you enjoy, we’d be eternally obliged if you supported our music by sharing with your friends or, better yet, buying an album. Take a listen!