Tuesday, February 12, 2008

About Paul Simon, Divorce and Cinderella

I am divorced, and I don't talk about it often. Going through it was difficult enough, so why rehash? The closest I have come to describing what I felt are the words of a Paul Simon song on "Graceland." It goes something like, "Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you're torn apart. Everybody feels the wind blow." While it's been almost 10 years since my own experience, I'm always amazed that I still occasionally feel "the wind blow."

Sometimes I think about the decisions I have made and wonder if they were the right ones, even though my gut tells me they were. The circuitousness of those decisions seem incredibly random today. I left Florida in the middle of a divorce to take a job at a newspaper so I could avoid hearing the sound of that wind. I returned to Florida to work for an Internet startup whose first site was focused on, you guessed it, divorce. Funny the way the world works. I'd call it serendipidy, except that implies a mood that's lighter than the circumstances.

I've been reading a book called, "Eat, Pray, Love," by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is, for some odd reason, connected to the other thoughts rambling through my brain. The book begins with her, weeping on the floor of a bathroom as she realizes her marriage isn't working anymore. So she gets divorced and gives up everything familiar to spend the next year searching for some meaning to it all -- through Italy, India and Indonesia, all places that seem like fine destinations to find some meaning.

Over the weekend, while I was preparing for the wedding of a friend who -- for years -- swore she'd never find the right partner, I came across this passage in the book. It was toward the end and it struck me as a pearl... "I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and then I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism."

Given the number of conversations I've had with the site's sources and writers, media covering it and even the folks running it, the quote stuck with me. It made me wonder if this isn't the problem we all have. We want to believe the best about the people we love. But the truth is, they're human -- just like us. And sometimes that humanity isn't pretty or even fun. In fact, sometimes it's just dark and sad and incredibly exhausting.

But in the middle of that pain, we look for something meaningful, picking up and continuing down the road with no guarentee that we'll ever find it. Because the simple truth is that we want to be like Ms. Gilbert, whose book has a Cinderella-type ending, or like my friend, who despite what she said for so many years, got married this weekend to a man who adores her -- and vice versa.

I guess the meaning is as simple or as complicated as we make it. We all want the glass to be half full -- half full of joy, of peace, of love -- for the short time we're here, because it really never is as long as we think it will be.

And isn't that really the meaning after all?

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