Everybody wants to win the lottery.
Everybody wants to “Pass Go” and collect 200 dollars.
Everybody wants the big score, the EZ Pass, the doorman’s mitt on the small of your back as he guides you past the velvet rope.
Everybody wants the escalator ride up the stairway to Heaven.
It’s the dream of completion. The hope of that “click” that will make everything, once and for all, all right. And done. And safe. And easy.
This desire for the end of struggle drove Buddha to teach you to nimbly step outside the chatterbox cacophony of your mind, Moses to lay down some laws, Jesus to invite you to hop the express bus to the Kingdom of God, Marx to play the old switcheroo on who runs the factories – and now, a fairy-winged circus of dream-slingers to promise that if you only “visualize” hard enough – your magical “divine other-half” will appear out of the mist.
Zombies appear out of the mist, and psycho-killers, as far as I can tell from the movies.
But soul-mates do not.
You create them.
I don’t like how people hawk soul-mates the same way casinos dangle jackpots.
As a one-time hit. An anomaly. An “out.”
It’s a con, playing on your hope and waiting for the dealer to flip you the winning hand.
I don’t like the idea of soul-mates.
Can you tell?
For the obvious reasons above – that it suggests a pre-destined fixed-deck. Which makes you the hapless rube at the card table of love. Which means you get to sit there and fantasize about collect your winnings.
I am not a fan of passive living.
I am not a fan of any habit that puts you in the mind of powerlessness and deservedness and privilege and entitlement.
I am not a fan of Calvinist pre-destination, nor of the Platonic/Kabalistic/Gnostic mythology of the original human being a four-armed, four-legged androgyne, something so whole that the gods or God had to split it, for fear of being matched or challenged.
These proto soul-mate mythologies leave us, as men and women, eternally seeking our “other half.”
I don’t like it, but I understand it.
And I feel it, too! Often!
I feel that rush of “this is it!” when I scan the “favorite books” section of an online dating profile and all our favorite authors match up – Neruda, Vonnegut, Twain, Hitchens, Dylan Thomas…
Surely she and I are soulmates!
But there! On another profile – all our favorite crazy eclectic musicians click like paired DNA – Ella, Muse, Chopin, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Coltrane, McCorkle….
The bliss of it! No doubt! She’s my soulmate!
The thing is – the wonderful thing is – if your heart is open, if your curiosity is great, if your enthusiasm for life abounds, potential soul-mates will keep skipping toward you out of the mist, far more attractive than the army of zombies that, for some reason, is the image that mists suggest to me.
They will just keep coming.
But who among will really be your “other half”?
Put another way, “how many shared authors, bands, beliefs, preferences, sexual kinks does it take to screw in a soul-mate?”
At what percentage point of “OMG!” do you so “click” into place like a divine zipper so that it feels like pre-destiny?
51%? 75?% 90%? 100% (as if that were possible among two evolved adults)
I have a radical answer to this.
It’s the wrong question.
My working hypothesis is that it’s far more useful to think of every person you encounter as your soul-mate.
I believe that it’s far more useful – and true and awakening – to peer right past the quirks and similarities and annoyances of every single person living on Earth and see them as your soul-mate.
Maybe you believe we were all created by one puppeteer God. I don’t. But I do know that we are all related. That we were once all wide-eyed children, allured to joy. That we all grieve our loved ones, and, quietly, our own winnowing years. That we delight to the same bejeweled sky when we can see the damned thing, and feel our souls soothed by the same tongue-touch of the seas on the ocean shore.
Most of the spiritual “giants” had it right. Love is everywhere and love is now.
It is available to you, if you choose to feel it in the eyes of the barrista at Starbucks, the nutcase sitting opposite you on the subway, the weary mother trying to tie her squirming toddler’s laces, the girl who broke your heart when you were 14, the man who betrayed you when you were 40, the child soldiers pressed into service in the Congo… soldiers everywhere, the shamed, the enraged, the flailing, the lost.
And I’ll tell you something…
The more you practice seeing, feeling – creating love — with every person on this Earth – as screwy, confused, deluded, yearning, lonely and annoying as they are – as, by the way, you and I are…
… then, when that lovely person wanders out of the mist who dreams dreams similar to yours, who wishes to create an intimate life similar to the intimate life you wish to create, and yes, who may read and listen to the same artists who craft those nuances who open your souls in the similar ways…
… when he or she appears before you…
… your heart will know that no matter how “special” or “unique” or “soul-matey” he or she seems to you, that that person is not some one-of-a-kind ace of spades thrown your way to complete your life’s royal flush…
…but simply another wanderer in the forest of life.
Even though you will feel, in the dizzying rush of hormonal ecstasy, that you have found your “mystical” other half…
… you will know that it’s not “game over,” or “bingo!” or “jackpot!”
Deep inside, you will know that your DNA can pretty much combine with anybody else’s DNA to create a perfect, wonder-bound infant.
Whether that infant is an actual new drooling human — or simply your new infant love, this new story of intimacy crawling forward, eyes-wide with wonder…
… you will know that it’s just a beginning.
You will know that if you take this person’s hand, you have the power – that you have the practiced and humbled and expanded heart – to create a path of your own through the dark glades.
No matter what monsters may arise from the shadows.