Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Songwriting Journal - This Thing

I have been married for a long time. Even when you have been married for a long time, and are happy overall, you still meet people. You still meet people you are interested in. You still feel that elusive spark, that certain something that draws you to another person, even when your life is well entwined with your chosen mate. So, when you meet someone, and you’re already committed to another, whether you’ve been married 20 years or engaged for 3 months, the question becomes – what do you do with that, what does it mean?
The range of options seems pretty obvious. Run away; avoid at all costs – a good option for the straight arrows. Dabble with the new flame, and risk ruining what you already have. Or perhaps, as the old saying goes, throw the baby out with the bath water, drop what you’ve got, and dive into the unknown. I’m guessing here, but it seems apparent by the rate of divorce in modern society, that many choose to dabble, or ditch their current situation, and go for the new thing that takes their breath away. Not that it’s ever that simple, but I know I can name at least one couple who ended this way, and I bet you can, too. There is, however, one other option, an option difficult to see through the fog. Let’s start with a brief historical analysis….
In centuries past, marriages were based mostly on tribal affiliations, dynastic concerns, economics, and procreation. The energy involved in basic subsistence, and having enough healthy children to keep the family business afloat, was about all people could manage. Relationship dynamics and monogamy were an afterthought - if you got on well with your mate, great, if not - SUX2BU. As human societies have evolved, we now have more time to consider the quality of our relationships, the notion of individual choice, and the powerful allure of the love match. The American passion for personal freedom has led us to an almost obsessive belief that the one key ingredient for a long-term relationship is that indefinable chemistry – the click, the spark, the love thing, the “soul mate”. Of course, anyone who has been married for a while can tell you for sure that the bliss we all seek is one of the first things to pass in a meaningful relationship, as you progress to levels of true intimacy. And yet, the allure of the “soul mate” endures, leading some to wander from one date to another for years on end, and others to destroy their marriages and careers in a huge bonfire of shame by traveling all the way to Argentina for a quick fix.
Part of the problem lies in our limited understanding of the phrase “soul mate”. After all, everyone with a significant role in our life, no matter how we feel about them, is a soul mate of one sort or another. These significant others come in all ages and genders, show up in our homes or out in the world, and stick around for years and years, or maybe only for a week. They are all our mates, here for us to learning, loving, and moving us along on our life path. Honoring our soul mates, and the spark we feel when they come along does not mean we have to abandon all that we are, and all the good things that we have created. Instead, it means that we are charged to remain open to learning and growth, without betraying our vows and our principles - a fine balance, and a challenge to maintain at times, but fully worth the effort.
In the spring of 1999 I wrote a song called This Thing. For me, This Thing is about the delusional nature of romantic love, what happens when you meet someone after you’re already in a committed relationship, and how our modern notion of “soul mate” gets in the way of meaningful interactions. That’s a lot for a ditty of about three and a half minutes, but there you have it. Give it a spin, and let me know what you think.