Archive for April, 2014|Monthly archive page

Our First Year

Today, April 25th, marks exactly one year that Lulu and I have been together as a couple. Our time together simultaneously seems to have flown by and, yet, have lasted a lifetime, both in the best possible way.

I’m unreasoningly pleased and proud at having reached this milestone. Though it’s a short time by many different standards, in the context of long distance relationships (especially with distances as long as 9,000 miles), a year puts us in the nth percentile, well to the outlier part of the bell curve.

We had an unconventional and somewhat rocky start, my beloved and me. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see now what we couldn’t in the moment: we (mostly me, really) were fearful and relied on factors outside of the two of us to prop up this burgeoning relationship. That was the first lesson: the two of us, together, are enough. We know now how to believe in us and rely on each other.

Our love grew quickly, blooming first into a deep bond of friendship. It seemed meant to be, as every revelation and discovery seemed to click into place, filling in the template of “the one” we each had imagined for ourselves. It seemed we had searched for many of the same things for what seemed like all our lives. We found each other despite the odds. And for that I’m immeasurably thankful.

As my parents used to teach me, nothing of great value is free.
Challenges strengthen bonds, and these we’ve had in abundance. Yet none have dimmed the glow of hopeful possibility, the light we share that pierces every dark cloud of worry.

This is but our beginning; we’ve only made a start. One year is an important milestone, yes. But my beloved and I intend to make this life’s journey together–two lives, one heart.

So there will be many challenges, triumphs, set-backs, joys and opportunities. Many more milestones shall mark our path. “Lord willin’, and the creek don’t rise”, as my gran used to say, this is the first of many anniversaries to count along our way. But until the next “big” one comes along, I intend to celebrate this and every day with my amazing Special Femme.

Happy Anniversary, my love. I look forward to fifty some-odd more to come!

My music

I’ve heard others comment on the musical quality of someone’s voice. And music has long been used as a comparison device for any number of romantic or sentimental notions. People wax poetic, many with great skill of description, imbuing their prose with lyrical grace as they speak of the moving, restorative, healing, calming and spiritual power of music and their love’s likeness to this musical miracle.

I find myself drawn to these comparisons and metaphors, as well, because music is so fundamentally moving. It’s universality can connect people from polar opposite demographics and walks of life. People who can’t even speak the same language, can often find common ground in the music they experience together. And the emotion, the artistry and spiritual expression in some music, sometimes not even intentional by the composer or performer, stirs the soul in ways no other stimulus can.

Except for love.

That’s why love and a lover’s voice is so often compared to music, a symphony, the melody, harmony and soundtrack of the soul. Love and music reach to the deepest depths of our being and move, motivate and transform us in unique and fundamental ways. Love and music are elemental forces that work on a level that requires no language and is independent of conscious influence.

That’s what my beloved is to me.

She is the music, the symphony of my soul, the melody that accompanies the progress of my life. Her voice stirs my emotional response like no other’s voice can. Hearing her sing makes me happy. Every. Time. The sound of my name and her terms of endearment for me from her lips is a welcome, motivating drumbeat that can’t be recreated by anyone or anything.

I’m so thankful for the blessing my Special Femme is in my life. She is the light, the joy, the blessing that immeasurably enriches my life. She is the symphony of home and heart that calls to me, moment by moment, day by day, regardless how many miles lie between us.

My Lulu is the music of my soul.

Painful Lessons

I’ve had a headache for over a week.

Before you start lobbing “go to the doctor” bombs at my head, please be aware that I’m neither stupid nor a glutton for pain. I just know my body and this is one of the many daily, chronic headaches that I’ve experienced since I was in the seventh grade. The quality and intensity of the pain is exactly the same, if it is running longer than normal. It’s not a migraine, and, in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “It’s naht ah tooomah!” This isn’t new to me.

But it IS painful.

The pain, in a sick and twisted way, is a teacher of sorts. Sometimes effective, sometimes dysfunctional. But I’ve definitely learned a few things from pain.

One thing I’ve learned in my years of dealing with sustained pain and pressure in my skull is that it is possible to compartmentalize a heckuva lot of sensory input and feedback in order to focus on the immediate moment. This ability can be key to getting things done in really crappy circumstances. It can also be a crutch to get from one moment to the next. But it can fail, spectacularly, at exactly the wrong moment. So it isn’t a one-stop solution. But it’s a good, occasional-use tool.

Another trick I’ve learned from pain is that smiling can often avert an embarrassing, technicolor return of one’s last meal. That is, smiling can sometimes thwart the gag reflex and keep you from puking long enough to get to a bathroom. Smiling is also useful to mask the outward effects of a grinding, low-level, always-there pain. That’s a necessary art, because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that invisible pain is the slippery slope to ridicule and derision. If people can’t see a wound or scar, they tend to think you’re a goldbrick or hypochondriac and treat you as less-than. So, smiling through the ache can be a useful trick to preserve one’s dignity on a number of levels.

Yet, it takes a toll–the pain and smiling through it–it has a fairly high price that eventually comes due. Patience and good humor inevitably wear thin. Energy and will power last only so long before they have to be recharged. Managing mouth, emotions and pain tolerance simultaneously is a tricky business at the best of times. But when nearing the end of patience or energy reserves, it’s a whole ‘nuther level of delicate. I’ve learned over the years to pay attention to those subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints from the folks around me that my tone or wit is a shade too sharp; for me that’s a sure sign it’s time to retrench on the rest and self-care.

But through all of this, pain teaches that we are each stronger, more than our circumstances, each of us able to cope with an amazing amount of adversity if we are careful to balance grit with rest, determination with discretion. And it can teach those outside of the pain, too. You who observe the pain of others, know that ‘pushing through it’, ‘sucking it up’ is often more an act of courage than capability. Try not to judge too harshly when someone’s batteries run low and sucking it up no longer works.

So what’s the point of this post?

The short answer for those who hurt: Listen to your body, take care of it, and be kind to yourself.

The slightly longer answer for those who see the pain of others: Don’t assume from a smile or pleasant voice that a person isn’t suffering (physically or emotionally). Pay attention to what someone is not doing or saying for a clue to what pain might be doing to them, and be sensitive to their efforts to make it work.

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