This life is a funny thing. Complex, full of twists and turns and disappointments, love and betrayal, all the stuff of the stories told that move us and shape us. Of all the things that come our way, a brutal betrayal is perhaps one of the things that is hardest to see in black and white. Oh, it looks pretty easy to navigate from an outside perspective (dump them, they're trash) but when it is your heart, your love we are talking about, well, answers seldom come easy and love quite often does not lie down in the bed made for it.
When I first heard that it was rumored to be a distinct possibility that Maria Shriver was considering getting back together with her estranged husband Arnold Schwarzenegger, just the possibility reminded me of how complex our whole dynamic as human beings can be. And this global village of ours is a tough room. We are such a micro-managing, judgmental society these days. We put our hands on our hips and move our fingers back and forth declaring with measured assurance what is unforgivable, who should, and should not, be forgiven. And from a distance it would seem like a no brainer, it's no secret we can do bad, selfish, beyond hurtful things to each other -- anyone would be crazy to walk back into a life with someone like that, right? And yet. There is that tricky, wily, unpredictable thing called love.
When you really and truly love somebody and are faced with making the best decision possible, the things one has to weigh up and ponder -- deep in those very hearts than hold that love -- are multi-layered and very complicated. It can include influences in our life like our religious beliefs, our children, the life we had or were building toward, health issues, our belief in each other and our capacity to change, and so much more. I think decisions like this can, and should, include what kind of character we have chosen for ourselves. Nearly every morning for a very long time I have said these words out loud to myself,
"Watch your thoughts, for they become your words
Choose your words, for they become your actions
Understand your actions for they become habits
Study your habits, for they become your character
Develop your character, for it will become your destiny."
I couldn't help but think, as I was typing those words, that I'm sure those of us that have been on the other side of a hideous betrayal, had wished our partners or friends had taken those words to heart and chosen a different character. For that matter there are times in my life, I wish I had. But the point is that 'character' that is worth its salt has wisdom, clarity, depth and almost always a huge capacity for forgiveness. This kind of character and the courage it takes to make wise decisions, that we, ourselves, have to live with, is what I thought about when I heard the blurb about Maria and Arnold. True or not, just the thought of it brought up in me a flash of admiration. Whatever she chooses to do, it reminded me that throwing away a marriage, a life together, shouldn't be so easy. Giving up and deciding what is more or less unforgivable should include a good hard look at the words... 'forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us' whatever your religion. Things like compassion, kindness and forgiveness, to me, transcend our disparate beliefs and make the dangers of fundamentalism less likely.
I've heard the words 'new human species' being bandied about in terms of our, hopefully, more enlightened, evolved selves coming more to the forefront and making a difference on this earth. To me, it starts with each of us and the character we choose and develop. It starts with our capacity to see the 'bigger picture' and as Nelson Mandela says, "to play for the long run." Maybe Maria Shriver is thinking about her life in terms of the 'long run'... I know when Hilary Clinton chose her love for her man over her beyond wounded pride, chose the hard road of forgiveness over being right but alone, chose the work it would take over the sometimes easier choice of walking away, chose her love over the opinions of others, I smiled to myself as I pictured the possibility of them loving each other into old age, playing in the garden with their grandchild, and facing, together, the hard things that inevitably come our way as human beings that include hospitals and loss and more tough decisions.
I am not naive enough to think that walking away from a truly horrendous, horrible person is not the doggone best, healthiest decision there is to make. Surely it is. I'm just saying that when it comes to our love for each other, our devotion, our reasoning in those areas we hold most dear, only we ourselves know the nuances and complexities involved that no one else will ever know, and maybe sometimes it is less black and white and more like that famous Blaise Pascal quote, "The heart has reasons which reason knows nothing of."