I had a conversation with a perfect stranger a few weeks ago on my flight from Toronto to Dubai. He was kind enough to allow me to share our conversation with you all. Happy reading! *wink*
For some reason, I always seem to find myself seated beside the most talkative airline passengers. As some of you know, my grandfather has been really ill lately; and as the universe would have it, I am currently seated beside an elder gentleman who reminds me of him. After our initial hello, we had an extensive life chat covering all the basics – travel, food, career, world news, family, and so on. The conversation eventually led to him asking if I was married; which led to one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had in awhile.
Him: How many significant relationships have you had?
Me: That’s hard to answer.
Him: You don’t have to answer. But for perspective, I’ve had one. My wife and I have been together since I was 23.
Me: We’re living in a different time. My generation is a generation of options.
Him: Your generation is a generation of time wasters.
Me: If I got married to the guy I dated at 23, I would be divorced right now.
Me: We wanted different things.
Him: And you used some magic formula to predict you should break up?
Me: Something like that.
Him: And at no point did either or you feel the need to compromise?
Me: At 23 I was still figuring out who I am as an individual. I believe a person should have that figured out before deciding to get married.
Him: My dear. By the time you truly have yourself figured out your life will be over.
Him: How did he make you feel?
Me: He wasn’t the one. And I wasn’t his one.
Him: But how did you feel?
Me: Loved – some of the time. It’s not what I would want for myself right now.
Him: But with a little bit of compromise it may have been different. You ended your relationship, a relationship in which you said you felt loved, based on anticipation of future failure?
Me: No. We weren’t happy with who we were as individuals. There was no possible way forward to be happy together.
Him: You wouldn’t know. You guys didn’t try. Your generation is always calculating. This is your greatest mistake. There is no formula for love. Just like there is no formula for happiness. The sooner you realize that, the better.
Me: But sometimes love is not enough. Love without consistency. Love without respect. Love without the desire to be equal partners. These are things that need to be calculated. Otherwise you end up with love that is mediocre.
Him: You’re overthinking it. Love is simple. It’s a feeling. Either you have it or you don’t. And if you have true and pure love for another human the rest is a given. Sometimes you’ll be required to support more. Sometimes you’ll be required to compromise more. All of it will be worth it because of the outcome – a series of unforgettable and happy moments shared with your partner.
Me: Things happen for a reason. At the end of the day, it is what it is until it isn’t. And when it isn’t, you move on. My relationships after that have had a much larger effect on who I am as a person.
Him: And who are you as a person?
Me: I’m happy. Happy with the life I’ve been able to create for myself. Happy with the choices I’ve made.
Him: And you are alone.
Me: Being alone isn’t a bad thing. I’ve learnt a lot about myself being alone.
Him: Did you use a formula to determine that too?
Me: Potentially. Or maybe I’m secure in my solitude.
Him: So you’re scared?
Me: Who isn’t?
Him: What is there to be scared of?
Him: The unknown?
Him: So you’ve given up.
Me: Not at all.
Him: So then?
Me: I’m not quite sure where you’re going with this one.
Him: There’s nothing to be scared of.
Me: I’m not scared to the point of not giving chances. I’m quite happy to try. I’m trying right now.
Me: And what?
Him: Have you used your formula to determine he’s worth the risk?
Me: LOL, yes!
Him: So if you’ve figured that out there’s no reason to be scared.
Me: I’m not scared right now.
Him: When are you scared?
Me: In moments of vulnerability.
Him: You think it’s bad to be vulnerable?
Him: It’s not. There’s strength in needing others. It’s not weakness. Stop overthinking.
Me: I’m not overthinking.
Him: What about vulnerability frightens you? The imperfection of human relationships? The imperfection of others? The imperfection of yourself?
Me: A little bit of everything?
Him: There’s strength in needing others. It’s not a weakness. Who supports you when you fail?
Me: If I fail? My family.
Him: You are close to your family?
Him: And you don’t mind needing them?
Me: It’s different.
Him: Is it?
Me: They are unconditional.
Him: Your partner should be unconditional too.
Me: Well that’s exactly what we’re all hoping for at the end of the day.
Him: It is impossible to experience unconditional love unless you are open to unforgiving vulnerability.
Me: I’ve been told that quite a few times.
Him: Told by someone that unconditionally loves you?
Me: Told by someone that unconditionally cares about me.
Him: And what happened? Did you take his advice?
Me: To a certain extent, I suppose.
Him: And? What was the result?
Me: I’m still figuring it out. But mostly… Clarity?
Him: You’re more clear about the importance of allowing yourself to be vulnerable?
Me: I’m more clear about who I’ll allow myself to be vulnerable with.
*To be continued*