Jamal is a graduate of Northeastern Seminary and writes on a broad range of topics. His writings are based on other points of view.
Most of the time, life seems like an endless precession of repetitions, following the same routines and just trying to get by till the next round of bills. Relationships especially can feel like this. We date or marry a partner who seems like they will fulfill our dreams and fit into our vision of life. Then as it time goes on, the shine starts to wear. There comes a lurking undercurrent of discontent within our beings that starts to sabotage that vision.
I have seen different reactions to this discontent. More traditional, conservative or religious (no they’re not the same) tend to go into a state of denial. Refusing to look at or even acknowledge the discontent, they throw themselves into the faulting vision feeling that if they just drown themselves in it that eventually the disquiet will go away. I’ve seen others who not only acknowledge the disquiet but whole heartedly embrace it, leaving their partner in search of that person who can restore it: or perhaps in search of the contentment itself eh? Sometimes they become completely unable to have a stable a relationship and therefore don’t even try.
In the middle of that spectrum I have known people who will acknowledge their feelings but surrender themselves to their circumstances. Life after all isn’t about happiness or true love, but ensuring your in niche in it so you don’t end up a homeless hobo on the street when your seventy years old and no longer desirable.
I have found though that there are times, moments when we seem to break out of life’s endless cycle or repetitions. There was a song by the musician, Sting that came out in 1996 called Fields of Gold, about someone remembering a past love affair. And for me I have found that those moments are times where life seemed most abundant and for a time, alive.
Unlooked For Inspiration
The first woman was a friend from when I returned to college, Chelsy. She was unexpected, something I did not foresee happening. At the time I was still getting over a long term relationship I had just left. I was more religious then, but I didn’t want to be involved with anymore religious women. All they seemed to want was a husband and someone who would father their kids and make their fucking families happy: apple pie Americana in its purest form indeed.
But Chelsy I met through her sister and was the epitome of everything I didn’t want. Yes she was a tall, athletic blonde with gorgeous, green eyes, but she was also a WASP (white, anglo saxon, protestant) and was more devoted than I was. At the time, I was questioning my religion. She wasn’t, at least not until she met me.
The reason why Chelsy took me out of the monotony of life was because we ended up sharing a special and powerful bond. We both felt that we shouldn’t be with each other but at the same time were still drawn together. We even deliberately spent time apart for months, avoiding each other where we knew the other would be and circumstances always brought us back together.
What ultimately sold me on her was a period where she had really pissed me off for something I don’t even remember now (which should tell you something). One day when I went to go to the gym, we crossed paths unexpectedly. Still pissed I deliberately didn’t speak to her. Hell, I only glanced her for a second. As I made my way in though, she said two words to me that immediately washed away that fire: “Hi Jamal”.
Seriously, just like that my anger was gone. No one had ever had that affect on me before and it was that moment that I realized I was in love with her. Though we were kind of dating for some time after that, it was never physical. But I was so taken with her and everything seemed so deep that I didn’t care. Chelsy was the only woman I ever wanted to marry because I genuinely wanted to. She had something that a lot of people since that I have known didn’t have: loyalty.
Even when things didn’t work out between us, we remained close friends until months later when her new boyfriend and family demanded that she not see me anymore. It went against their beliefs of what a ‘good girl’ should be around other men who were not family or her husband. Still, for that time, life truly seemed live and like dream come true. Chesly was passionate and you could feel that even in her reserve. We balanced each other in ways that went beyond function and happiness (or so it seemed anyway at the time). Perhaps even I may have ended up having a normal life and to this day I have never meant anyone else like her whom I connected with on such a spiritual level.
The last example of a relationship making life alive was with a woman named Kristen. She was also someone that I meant in college and it was arguably a mistake on my part. The relationship started towards the end of my senior year. She was even more reserved than Chelsy and was very much the introvert. However she was smart and something of an outsider and I connected with that.
While we had spoken before during lunches it was never romantic. When it became romantic, it was very much a risk in that there were issues that she was certain I would break up with her on. Eventually those issues arose but I did not leave her. Perhaps I was too stubborn. She too passionate but kept it tightly locked and even with me I felt like she never completely let go. That said though, we were intimate and it was the most special kind of intimacy I ever experienced.
Seriously, I am not talking about great sex or even after glow. When I was with her it truly felt like an out of body experience. We would finish and I felt such a deep sense of peace that it seemed like we were in a bubble outside of the universe where it was just us. I’ve experienced afterglow before and that definitely was not it!
That too ended. Despite that, it did not change those moments.
Chasing the Sun
When I see people fall into despondency over what they’re lives have become, it’s usually because the manufactured world they set up for themselves was thrown to the way side by those factors they thought would make it reality. Moreover there was a lack of passion, not sexual or emotional passion per se, but a passion for life: like a spirit that inhabits the body. In Europe I learned a saying, “Americans live to work and Spanish work to live” and I definitely sensed that feeling of discontent.
I maybe naïve here in thinking this, but I don’t want my life to end up being series of check marks written by others until I die. The relationships I mentioned here were all examples of trying to live rather than just existing till the next roundabout, regardless of how they turned out. I hope to be smarter as I continue towards that goal of not stagnating or platuea-ing. But it is a goal, because I don’t want to exist in regret.