Because Love Is All There Is…

“Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?”
“Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.”― Ray Bradbury. 

I chanced upon an article in New York Times and it has left a deep impact on me. And because it is about love, Valentine’s Day seemed the right day to write about it. This is the story of Isaiah Berlin and Anna Akhmatova. For all my readers who do not know them, Isaiah Berlin was a 20th century political theorist, philosopher and Anna Akhmatova was a great pre revolutionary poet. Berlin met Anna in Leningrad in 1945 one night, when he was hanging around with a friend.

Berlin walked into the apartment to meet a beautiful woman, powerful, but wounded by the atrocities of war. Her HVDhusband was executed in 1921 on false charges. She had stood for 17 months outside the prison, vainly seeking news about him. Like all strangers meeting, Berlin and Anna met. Their conversation was restrained, talking about war experiences and British Universities. People came and went.

By midnight they were alone, sitting on the opposite sides of the room. She told him about growing up, her marriage and her husband’s execution. She recites Byron’s “Don Juan” with such passion that Berlin turned his face to the window to hide his emotions. She then recited some of her own poems, breaking down as she described how they led the Soviets to execute one of her colleagues. By 4.00 in the morning, they were talking about the greats – Pushkin and Chekhov. Berlin was impressed with the light intelligence of Turgenev, while, Anna appreciated the dark intensity of Dostoyevsky.

Deeper and deeper they delved in their conversation, baring their souls. Anna confessed to her loneliness, expressed her passions, spoke about art and literature. Berlin did not want to break the spell of that conversation…so he refused to go to the bathroom also. Both of them had read the same things, knew what the other knew, understood each other’s longings. That night, Berlin’s life came as close to as it ever did to the still perfection of art. When he finally pulled himself and went back to his hotel, it was 11.00 am. He flung himself on bed and exclaimed, “I’m in love, I’m in love.”

The night Berlin and Anna spent together talking stands as the ” beau ideal of a different sort of communication.”  It’s that communication between individuals who felt that knowledge most worth attending to does not need data, but, in  great HVD 1
works of culture, in humanity’s great storehouse of inherited emotional and existential wisdom. Both came from a culture that encouraged people to possess a certain intellectual scope to lead an interesting and fulfilling life.

My own experience has been when you have such life altering conversations, it is because my man and I have done our reading, discussed big ideas and big books (classics & neo classics) that have actually taught us how to experience life in all it’s richness, make subtle emotional and soul searching evaluations…and not judgements. This can happen when both are spiritually ambitious, combing through the common language of literature, written by amazing geniuses who understand us better than we understand ourselves.

That night, Berlin and Anna experienced a beau ideal of a certain kind of bond. A bond that is felt once or twice in a lifetime. Just that much, because I would like to call it a sort of love bond that depends on a lot of coincidences. For Berlin and Anna, it was piecing of the jigsaw puzzle…a puzzle that seemed incredibly complicated when they were introduced in the early part of the evening. As the night progressed, they discovered they were the same in many ways. There was such harmony that all inner defences crumbled in one night. This communion that was intellectual, emotional, spiritual, created a combination of friendship and love. It was an important night for both. For Berlin, it was an event that left him HVD 2totally changed. For Anna, it later turned in to suffering. The Soviet government tortured her for cavorting with a British spy. Her son was imprisoned and Anna expelled from the Soviet Writers Union. Yet, she never once blamed Berlin for all this. Instead, she continued to write about the luminous magic of that night.

I am not sure how many people want this kind of a relationship or life today. How many actually look beyond the transactional aspect or the utilitarian moment of our lives? How many couples or partners can say “I am all the more enriched, fulfilled and empowered because of this one person, who liberates me in more ways than one?”

I can say that with a big smile on my face, and…in my heart!

Happy Valentine’s!!!

 

Home Is A Person & Am Finally Home!

After my last post I have received comments and calls from people with whom the words resonated. I also had a lot of people query me about one point in my blog – “I don’t find my relationship with my partner/spouse as it was before, there is no common ground, how do I get over the boredom in my relationship, we don’t know what to say to each other, etc etc”   I'm home 1

It is unfortunate, but, true. Most couples face this at some point in life and they really don’t know what to do with each other. The children flying the nest brings home this fact in a more hard hitting manner. This is where couples have to make the extra effort if they want to sustain their relationship and nourish it with a different kind of love. Love is not just about finding the right person, it’s about working with them to create the right relationship – working with them in different stages of life to nurture that relationship. For it is the truth, as we move from one stage of life to another, our relationship also changes. Therefore, the way we manage that change is fundamental to how our bond strengthens with our partner.

Always make time for each other.

In every relationship, it is imperative that we make time for each other. It doesn’t matter whether you & your partner are in the same city or not. Always make time to communicate with each other. Neglect based on lack of attention damages relationships far more often than anything else. There’s nothing more vital to the bond you share with someone than simply being there for them.  Too often we underestimate the power of a thoughtful question and a listening ear that’s fully present and focused.  Although it’s a simple act, it may very well be the most powerful act of caring on that particular day for your other half.  IMG_185610755141423

When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other.  With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow stronger.  This is the side effect of a good relationship – we help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s strengths.

Bottom line:  I put in effort & stay in close touch with what’s going on in my partner’s life – communicate openly on a regular basis.  Not because it’s convenient, but because he is worth every bit of it. 🙂

 

Ending the day together.

Over a period of time, we all develop our schedules and time tables. Most couples create individual routines and forget to include their IMG_73268588016637significant half in that. What I find endearing about my man is that he waits for me to finish my last chores for the day and then we spend time together. It could be watching the news or a movie or a sport on television, play a game of scrabble or quiz, read something together. Then retire to bed at the same time. There’s something cozy about sliding under the covers together, talking about what happened during the day or what’s on the list for tomorrow.

Bottom line: this is a routine that helps us bond over music too…both of us love to listen to music before falling asleep. 🙂

 

What’s common to you both?

It’s important to keep your own hobbies when you’re part of a couple, of course, because you want to stay true to yourself and not change your personality. It’s also very important you and your partner can cultivate common interests without changing who either of you are, and it will make your relationship stronger as a result. I love reading and writing, which are typically solitary hobbies, but my partner doesn’t hesitate to grab a book and sit next to me on the couch.

Fortunately for us, we do share a lot of common interests – travel, music, genre of books we read, board games, crosswords, quizzes, golf. He isn’t very fond of getting into the pool, but, does so only because I enjoy it. I learnt all about football including certain terminology and nuances of the game, which he claimed women find extremely difficult to grasp.I only had to show him that women can learn whatever they set their mind to, especially if a loving partner is involved.

Bottom line: I made the effort to learn about some of the sports he enjoys because it gave me chance to reciprocate what he did for me & continues to do for me. 🙂

 

Actions speak louder than words.

When you love someone you have to act accordingly.  They will be able to tell how you feel about them simply by the way you treat them over the long-term.  IMG_71679248329286

You can say sorry a thousand times, or say “I love you” as much as you want, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t. Sometimes just words will not be enough. I have always used a combination of things to show my man that I really mean every emotion I feel for him. I have surprised him for his birthday, brought him unexpected gifts, whisked him off on a date just like that, sneaked up from behind to hug him while he was working hard on something. It’s important to learn what matters to your partner and work on it. This is more so with regard to certain existing relationships in your partner’s life.

Bottom line: walking hand in hand, occasionally exchanging a hug during the day (whenever work permits), doing a “weather” check once a day, sending a loving message  to each other…we do all these things…now it comes naturally to both of us. Yes, it definitely adds zing to our more than two decade relationship.

 

Socialize together.

Chances are most of your friends are in the same age group as you, give or take a couple of years. Over a period of time, while the kids are growing up, moms & dads tend to have a separate social life and find it difficult to in later years to  accommodate each other’s friends. One ofI'm home 2the common binding factors I have found with my soul mate, is that we have treated our respective friends as common friends. My friends are his friends and vice versa. As a result, our social evenings have invariably been with a lovely mix of people that we both know.

To this I have to thank our upbringing also. Both of us have not seen our respective parents go partying without their significant half.

Bottom line: when I treat his friends like mine & vice versa, we just increase the set of fantastic people in our lives. 🙂

 

Open up…especially in trying times.

We all go through highs and lows as individuals. Let your partner in when you are in your dark corner. I tend to share even the smallest of things with my partner. I don’t expect him to solve my problems or fight my battles for me…however, he faces them with me, supports me when I go through my crabby moods because of those challenges. Most times, we all just want somebody who understands, accepts and becomes a sounding board. relationships1-250x250

Allow your partner to stand by you. No false heroism that ‘I can do it on my own’. When you stand there with all your insecurities and vulnerabilities, you also give the space to your partner to share his/her own challenges. Always remember, sharing is mutual, never a one way street.

Bottom line: I share because it shows my man what I am feeling and I also get to hear the words “I love you” more often that way… 😉

 

More than just looks.

It’s true when grown ups say looks fade away, it’s the character that matters. When you fall in love, sure, looks make a difference. But, that’s not enough to sustain the relationship. I recollect reading somewhere, infatuating yourself with someone simply for what they look like on the outside is like choosing your favourite food based on colour instead of taste.  It makes no sense.  It’s innate, invisible, unquantifiable characteristics that create lasting attraction.  There must be common ground in your interests and outlooks on life.

In the journey of life, when you go through the rough & tumble, it’s not looks that show the strength of your partner, it’s what’s inside. Just as we all have our preferences for spicy food, chocolates, mint or cinnamon flavours, we also get attracted to certain characteristics of people. Sometimes it’s even the scars your soul shares with them that reels you in and creates the very platform that hold you together in the long run.

Bottom line: “no one gets me the way you do” these eight words became the bedrock of our relationship. The day my partner said this to me, I knew we had reached a level of understanding in our relationship that will sustain anything.

 

Little somethings of everyday life.

It’s the everyday stuff that makes life interesting or boring. All of it depends on how you and your partner view it. For us, our everyday stuff is exciting, expectant and exhilarating because we chose to make it so… yet, it’s also everyday stuff. Nothing new. We don’t beat around the bush when it comes to expressing – if you appreciate someone today, tell them.  If you adore someone today, show them.  Hearts are often confused and broken by thoughtful words left unspoken and loving deeds left undone.  There might not be a tomorrow.  Today is the day to express your love and admiration. I'm home 3

A great relationship with your partner is based on team work and communication – both are two way processes. I have figured out, the most important trip I have taken in life is to meet my partner half way through. Otherwise, I would not have been his partner. It really is a full circle.  The strength of a relationship depends on the strength of its two members, and the strength of each member in the long run depends on the quality of the relationship. Finally, we as two individuals, determine the quality of relationship we want to have.

Both of us have always believed that a relationship can never be 50:50 all the time. Most of the time one of us will be stronger than the other. However, yes, there will be times when both of us have to be strong together. As long as the two of us understand that, we continue to be happy and smiling.

Saying “I love you”, “good morning”, “good night”, “how was your day” all have a long term impact on the relationship. Like the old adage goes, you can never have too much of the good thing in life. These are all good things of life, which when shared with your partner, strengthens the relationship at a subterranean level.

Say the following line to your soul mate and mean every word of it…like I’m saying it now to my partner(he hasn’t heard this one before) – Walk with me… no questions are that tough, when you walk with me in the journey of getting the answers.

Bottom line: it’s easy to fight about stupid things. When I look at his photograph, think of all the great times we have had and continue to have…when I look at how our children adore him and dote on him…I know that there is no other person on earth I want to wake up with every morning!