Q At the bottom of a cupboard in a spare room I have a shoe box containing every love letter that has ever been written to me. Recently I had a look through the box and read some of the poems, cards, and long, passionate letters. It made me realize how long it had been since I felt the magic of a meaningful relationship.
Despite my romantic youth it hit me that I have not been able to kindle any skerrick of romance with any man I have met since my last relationship ended four years ago. I am single, 34, and more than anything would love to spend the rest of my life with one special man.
I believe I am attractive, youthful, positive and even charming, but it just hasn’t happened that I have met someone I like, who likes me too, since my last relationship. Now when I look at the box I have a strong urge to throw it out.
It is not an urge which comes from anger or sadness or even longing, but more like a command from the gods to sacrifice something as symbolically powerful as that box. Without it the occasional trip back to my romantic past will be impossible, those sweet memories will exist only in my imagination, and there will be no tangible, physical proof that I have ever known love.
It is like taking a risk and placing my faith that the gods will fill the vacuum in my life.
Do you think I should make this sacrificial offering in the hope that the universe will repay me? Or, do you think the chances of me meeting someone have nothing to do with a symbolic gesture, and I should keep the box and show my granddaughters what a romantic young lass their grandmother was?
A Angela, our primitive nature wants to dance around the fire chanting, “Uggabugga, uggabugga, uggabugga.” When we are finished, we imagine the headman will step forward and say, “Bring me the child, our sacrifice to the gods.” After the deed is done the headman will proclaim, “Now it can rain.”
Humans search for explanations and causality. While we think we are more sophisticated than humans who lived thousands of years ago, we are driven by the same psychological forces. Behind books claiming to show you how to attract the perfect mate or save any relationship is the same psychological force which led our ancestors to chant, “Uggabugga, uggabugga, uggabugga.”
We want to fight the randomness of the universe. We want to cheat the odds and make things happen, but there is a limit to what we can do. One lesson we can learn, however, is the secret of the fisherman. A fisherman knows you cannot catch fish in a cornfield. You have to be in the way of catching fish; you have to be in the stream.
We often receive letters from people trying too hard to make this happen or fishing in the cornfield of a cheating boyfriend. They are like Eugen Herrigel in “Zen in the Art of Archery.” When Herrigel tried to force his shots and force the results, his teacher kicked him out of class. The lesson he needed to learn was good things happen when we are in the flow of life.
The records of your romantic past are in your mind. Let them stay there. You don’t need to cling to the past when you are moving forward, and the man for you does not need these past proofs. What you are thinking about putting on the pyre are proofs of failure, evidence of relationships which did not blossom.
Loosening your grasp on the past and living fully in the moment will put you in the stream. No one can guarantee it will happen for you, but it can, just as it happened for us.
Wayne & Tamara
Invade – to enter as if to take possession, to intrude upon.