To My Dearest Future Husband,
Let's just be honest here -- I always thought that if I hadn't found you by now, I'd be totally bummed out and depressed. I thought I'd be a nervous, incomplete wreck, writing this letter as I sat on my cat-infested front porch crying salty tears into a liter of cheap wine.
After all, I mean, hello, I'm almost 30!
Which of course, to my 22-year-old self, was a dinosaur-like age at which I thought I'd have a diamond rock on my left hand, two charming young Ralph Lauren model-looking kids, and would be living in the suburbs with a golden retriever and an SUV.
No doubt about it, the 22-year-old version of me would have been baffled by the weird life I'm living now -- by the fact that I've somehow become a nomad-like, hippie-food-eating, yogini entrepreneur sort of person who's learned to hold tight to everything but apparent security.
My 22-year-old-self would wonder, with a confused half-frown on her face and a cocktail in her hand, why it seems as if I've been focusing on everything but finding love and a house in the suburbs.
After all, I used to have All The Things I was "supposed" to have, and yet I gave them all up.
That house I bought in 2009? I rented it out to travel indefinitely.
That corporate finance job I used to trek to every day? I quit.
That TV and couch and Keurig coffeemaker I used to own? I threw them all in storage, and I honestly can't say when (or if) they'll be resurfacing. (Anyone want to buy a 47″ flatscreen?!)
And the man? I gave him up years ago to a more well-suited woman.
I gave it all up.*
*Ok, so maybe I kept the Keurig, but can you really blame me?
But the truth is, I'm happier now than I ever was before.
I drastically downsized, began living off my savings, and poured all my heart and energy and focus into two things: First, living; and second, building and growing my own labor of love -- my blog.
I launched my first product and made my first dollar... then my first thousand dollars... then my firsthundred thousand dollars. (Just kidding; the first hundred thousand dollars hasn't come yet ;).)
And in the process of doing All The Things, I gave up the search to find love.
Now, dear future husband, don't take this the wrong way -- it's not that I've given up on finding you.
But see, if my 22-year-old self were to ask me why in the hell I gave up the search, I'd sit her down and I'd tell her this:
"Therese, there's something you must know about love, and it's much different than what you've been taught: Real love -- real fulfillment -- isn't the way it looks in the movies, where you're destined to be desperately incomplete and unhappy until the One Perfect Person comes into your life and magically makes your life whole.
See, love, salvation, wholeness, completeness, happiness -- these things don't come to you solely through one magical person or through securing the life you're 'supposed' to live.
In fact, Real Love cannot come to you at all, because it is already right here and right now,ready to be experienced in everything and everyone around you.
It is not just contained in some romantic version of flowers and wine -- to really love is to love the mountain fresh air as you breathe in and breathe out. It is to love and appreciate the dexterity of your fingers on the keyboard and the sharpness of your mind as you build a complex Excel spreadsheet. (Yes, I just used "love" and "Excel" in the same sentence. What can I say; it's the accountant in me.) To love is to see -- to really see and to really greet -- each person you meet. To love is all this and more.
To fully live, I think, is to fully love.
And the truth is, in the process of learning to really live -- to experience each moment deeply, fully, completely -- I may not have found the right man yet, but that's not to say that I haven't found love.
In fact, I've fallen deeply in love -- not with one man, but with life. With myself. With chopping the vegetables and washing the dishes and smiling at strangers. I've found love and contentment in the smallest, simplest things.
So, yes, you could say I've fallen madly in love.
Actually, scratch that. I've not fallen in love; I've learned to practice love. Because the truth is, real love isn't something passive that you "fall" into; rather, it is something that is active. Love is a practice; it's something that you do every day, not something that you sit around and wait to show up on your doorstep in the form of one human being.
Real Love lies in the act of loving, not solely in the object of the beloved.
It lies in the act of loving thyself, of loving thy neighbor, and of loving this beautiful, awe-inspiring life you've been given. (I've always wanted to write 'thy' in one of my blog posts. Mission: accomplished!)
To experience love, I've found, is to practice love, and you don't have to be in a romantic relationship to practice love in its various forms. Real love extends beyond the act of simply loving one person romantically and into the realm of -- yes, I'm about to get all woo-woo on you here -- Universal Love.
It's not just about finding the guy who will sweep you off your feet and bring you to your knees; it's also about loving life, appreciating each moment, and learning to give without any expectation of reward beyond the joy of the act itself.
"If I truly love one person I love all persons, I love the world, I love life. Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one 'object' of love."
- Erich Fromm
And dare I say that until you've experienced real love -- "big L," Universal Love, you cannot truly experience the realest kind of romantic love with that fabul-awesome guy who will one day -- when the time is just right -- step into your life."
To The Man Who Will One Day Become My Soul-Mate in Crime,
I am no longer looking for love. I am not looking for love in the mall, at the club or in Brad Pitt's Malibu mansion. I am no longer looking for love because I already am love. I already have love. I am already practicing love.
Yes; I've already found love in my life, and it is right here and right now.
Now all I'm waiting on -- patiently, deliberately, and full of faith -- is you.
I cannot wait -- as in, I'm, like, Tom Cruise jumping on the couch excited -- to meet you. And I'm just gonna go ahead and put this out there: Whenever the time is right for our paths to cross -- should it be in 5 days, 5 years, or 5 lifetimes -- I think I'm finally ready.
Bring it on.