It has dawned on me recently that I am ready for a real change in my life--not the superficial changes that occur so frequently in life, but a life altering change. I think that I am done with bachelorhood--it has had a good run. . . I've really enjoyed it, but I am thinking that it is time for me to take dating more seriously and to ditch my inhibitions. I have mastered my current responsibilities and frankly have become bored with the lack of challenge that single life offers. It is really a selfish stage in life and I feel that I have reached a plateau in my progression. I've accomplished everything that I have wanted to accomplish during my single years: full-time mission (check), attend the temple (check), Bachelor's degree (check), Master's degree (check), Career as an educator (check), Backpack Europe (check), Road-trip through National Parks in the Western United States (check), Purchase a home (check), stay out of debt--with exception of home and car (check), actively serve in the church (check), enjoy the bachelor life (check), and etc., etc., etc. Everything that I have wanted to accomplish I have achieved. And honestly, the things that have been so exciting about being single in the past are simply mundane. As much as I enjoy social events catered toward singles, the events are old-hat, worn out, routine. Honestly, I could care less about attending parties or other social functions designed to mingle with the masses. I would much rather spend time with a smaller crowd of people that I actually care about than rub shoulders with people who are so concerned with the upkeep of image and the endless attempt to impress the myriad crowds or blindly seek out some unknown soul at some event or other. . . blah, blah, blah. . . it is all so cliche to me at this point. I'm not saying that I don't like to go out and have fun, to enjoy life, and all--I do, but honestly, there is more to life than this--I've been there and done that, over and over again--it is time to move on.
Please, do not misunderstand me--this is no sign of desperation and I do not intend to play the part of a fool and rush into a pathetic relationship simply for a relationship's sake. I shall be ever vigilant in discovering and dating a woman whom will be worthy of my time and energy, and with whom I will be worthy of her time and energy in return. What I mean is that it is time for me to give up my silly excuses of the past and simply be serious and honest about the concept of dating and relationships. It is more a revelation of maturity more so than anything else of which I can think. The following is a partial list of recent experiences that have helped me to arrive at my current conclusion:
A SATURDAY AFTERNOON WITH KIDS:
A few weeks ago I was supposed to go kayaking with a female friend of mine (a beautiful and respectable woman with a lot of great qualities--but don't get too excited, she is in a serious relationship) which fell through because of a commitment to babysit her nieces. As an alternative, we decided to meet up and take the kids up to Baldy Village to explore some replica's of Native American structures and then go for a little hike up Ice House Canyon. I had a blast carrying the one year old on my back (using one of those baby-backpacks) and exploring with the other niece around the creek, perceiving the world through the eyes of a child again, enjoying life--the crisp autumn air, the swarms of ladybugs, the changing leaves, the flowing water of the creek, and of course, good company and conversation. It was almost as if it were a small taste of family life and I enjoyed it immensely! It is not the first time that I have been around children--after all, I do have 18 nieces and nephews that I love dearly and have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with--both having fun and taking care of (you know, those times when kids are not so fun). As such, I have always done well with children, but this was a form of validation if you will--it does not have to be blood relations for me to get along with kids. This has caused me to reevaluate my perspective on dating women with children (it is still not preferred but is it really fair for me to rule them out all together?).
A TUESDAY NIGHT WITH MARRIED FRIENDS:
The other night I met up with some of the friends that I grew up with in the same neighborhood, two of which are now married. We ended up going to a Tae kwan do class for his young son. It was awesome to see how proud my friend was of his son and how involved he is in taking an interest in and supporting his son's life. He is a great father who is building his son up, offering him every opportunity to experience a good and healthy life with which to give him the tools to navigate through life confidently and competently. There is a time and place for everything--time for one's self, time for one's spouse, and time for one's kids. He is there for his kids at the moments that his kids are looking for his approval and interest. It is a selfless challenge, offering up of one's time and attention. My life has nothing like that--no immediate responsibility outside of myself. Needless to say, I have discovered that living solely for myself is a pathetic existence.
A HALLOWEEN AT HOME:
Since I have purchased a home I felt that it is my responsibility to do my part in perpetuating the Halloween holiday by giving out candy. Halloween is first and foremost a children's holiday. I figured that I could pass out candy for the first few hours of darkness then go out and join whatever party or dance suited my fancy. As the trick-or-treaters began to decline in numbers (and there were a lot of them in my neighborhood) I received a text from a friend of mine stating that she really didn't feel like going out that evening and asking what I was up to. I invited her over and we opted on staying in and having a great conversation that lasted several hours. A few other friends eventually stopped by and it resulted in a pleasant evening. Once more, the idea of spending quality time with people that I actually care about, making connections, was far more fulfilling to me than mingling with a lot of acquaintances and strangers. Once again, each has its time and place (sometimes it is necessary to get out and meet new people in order to receive new perspectives and form new friendships), but this night was great for actually strengthening conncetions with friends.
A NIGHT AT A CONCERT:
I have a friend for whom I have great esteem. She happens to be the most well-rounded and insightful woman that I have ever come to know and exhibits a variety of qualities that I truly admire in a woman. Having come to know her has been both a blessing and a curse: a blessing as she has influenced my life for the better in countless ways that has allowed me to grow and mature, and a curse in that having come to know her I have fallen in the trap of taking other women on dates and then measuring them against this friend. Perhaps I have passed up a number of great women because I wanted someone more like this friend. A couple of months ago this friend and I had limited contact with one another for a couple of months. It made me realize how much I missed that contact and connection. It was at this point that I admitted to myself that I truly felt that this friend is the "best" woman that I have ever known and I was reminded of a few lines in a poem I had written years ago on relationships: "The deepest things within us can't be pressed / By one who wants the other to confess / Of all that deep within them may reside, / For this is given freely or denied. / That which we truly love is rarely seen, / For eyes know not just where the heart has been, / And one who seems a friend more than the rest / Is where love is and where it's hidden best." I had decided then and there that if I truly felt that she was the best woman I have ever come across, then I had ought to pursue her as far as she will allow me (this would be no easy feat as I had attempted to date her once before, a couple of years ago, and I could not elicit any feeling within her). I felt a great sense of confidence in my decision to make a pursuit and discover, without expectation, where it may lead.
So I asked her if I could take her out and she consented. I settled upon taking her to a concert by a particular performer that shares her same cultural heritage. As such, I did a little research via the internet regarding the dating customs of this particular culture in order to create a theme for the evening. According to what I had read, it is customary for a man to bring a single rose, even on a first date (taboo in American culture--roses are not generally used until after a romantic connection has been made) and to walk arm in arm with the lady. So I gave her a rose with a little note translated into her native language (it was a variation on a little joke she had told me when we had first met--I figured it would take the edge off if offering a rose was too forward). The evening was great--I could not ask for a better woman to be with. As always, she was stunningly beautiful (that is actually one of the things that gets to me--over the past two years we have been but friends and yet every time the two of us get together to do something, she dresses up in such a manner that I am left awestruck of her beauty and must do all within my power to suppress desire--it is a cruel joke on her part. . . she plays the Goddess and I Tantalus suffering with something so inviting before me yet forbidden to grasp). I enjoyed our conversation, and the concert itself was nothing short of amazing! As we walked from the theater to the car I offered her my arm and created an awkward moment as she refused. I cannot fault her for simply acting on the way that she feels but that does not lessen the pain of knowing that the very person I most respect and admire is repulsed by my very being. That any form of physical touch should be so abhorred speaks volumes. Having been put in my place, we were able to move on and enjoy the remainder of the evening together. We had a wonderful conversation for several hours after this point without any awkwardness at all, but I dared not speak of what feelings I did have and my intentions to pursue her as far as she would allow, considering that her actions already proved how far that would be--I had already reached my limit (she has certainly sent many additional clues that say as much--I'm glad I did not express anything that I was desiring to at the beginning of the evening as that would have made things really awkward and may have damaged the friendship). Needless to say, this has caused me to reevaluate my stance on dating friends--I will certainly have to make a move before a relationship enters the "friend" zone.
A RELATIONSHIP ENDED
A good friend of mine recently broke up with his girlfriend of two years. Their relationship arrived at the point where only two options remained: get married or break up. Despite the fact that they both deeply love one another, the break up won out. I do not fault either party in the relationship--one must respect how another feels, no matter how much that hurts. I truly respect both individuals--they are both great people and I am sad that it didn't work out for them (I think they would be good for one another). It has become clear to me that things don't always work out the way that we want them or perhaps even how we perceive that they should. Maturity and responsibilty is to be found in how we handle situations which are beyond our control but have a direct correlation to our lives. Learning to accept things the way that they are, when they are beyond our control, is a difficult challenge. It is always seemingly easier when we have the power to act--to make or break something based upon what we do or say for ourselves, but human interaction requires the thoughts, feelings, words, and actions of both people. Any form of manipulation is immature and unacceptable. I am happy to say that both individuals mentioned above are mature enough to avoid attempts at manipulation. This is more a cautionary tale for myself. While I may tire of the bachelor lifestyle, sometimes it is not a choice and I will have to deal with its reality in a mature manner.
Wow, this is really becoming a long post. There are so many more thoughts and insights on the matter, but I will save that for discussions with friends who wish to address the topic. Needless to say, I feel that I am ready for a change, but that doesn't guarantee that a change will occur. It is time to reevaluate my thinking concerning these matters and determine what is of value and what needs to be adapted, discarded, or implemented. We shall see what happens as I reshape my ideology and approach to dating and relationships within the next year.