Soulmates: True Story or Total B.S.

Soulmates: True Story or Total B.S.

Before you answer that, you need to listen to this episode of The Moth. (And after that, you need to listen to ALL the episodes. It's incredible.)

For every bitter divorce, painful break up and gut-wrenching chapter closed, there are stories like Jenna Levin's. The type that has such perfect beauty that you would think it was art rather than life. The details wrapping together like neat little presents.

This reminded me of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, where Milan Kundera wrote:

"Early in the novel [Anna Karenina], Anna meets Vronsky in curious circumstances: they are at the railway station when someone is run over by a train. At the end of the novel, Anna throws herself under a train. This symmetrical composition—the same motif appears at the beginning and the end—may seem quite “novelistic” to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as “fictive,” “fabricated,” and “untrue to life” into the word “novelistic.” Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion. They are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence (Beethoven’s music, death under a train) into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual’s life. Anna could have chosen another way to take her life. But the motif of death and the railway station, unforgettably bound to the birth of love, enticed her in her hour of despair with its dark beauty. Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress. It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences. … But it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty."

Love in many ways is a search to assign beauty to the mandatory drudge of our human experience. As kids, we hear stories of fantastic, heroic and handsome princes who will sweep you off your feet and whisk you away from your distressing life. As adults, we watch Love Actually and endlessly dissect the ups and downs of that dream man who's name you don't yet know. He's out there somewhere, right? In Chinese culture, they say that you are born connected by a red thread that gets shorter and shorter until you finally are bound together with your other half. This is the only person in the world who is meant for you.

Does this symbolism really exist in our lives? When you meet "the one" will there be signs: he shares a birthday with your mom, your childhood dogs had the same name and you both mispronounce the same word? And if there are, do they really mean anything? Or is it just a coincidence on which you should base nothing?

Personally, I go through stages of being optimistic that this "love" thing really does exist. You catch little glimpses of it when you peer into other people's lives, or at least the way they present them. You feel your heart jump with a slight hope when you meet someone new.

And other times (like this morning), I'm so filled with cynicism that I must just walk around like a dark cloud, raining on everyone's little love parade. Should I look for someone that makes me feel all the things I've ever believed love to be? Or should I just find someone who I know I could stand for the next 50 years of my life? He might not be a Prince Charming, but he's handsome, nice and passable. I'll believe that I love him, but I won't believe in that fabled idea of a soulmate. We'll be happy, but I won't think he is "the one"...I'll think there is no such thing as "the one." And yet, there's just something that seems a little depressing about that.

Even in Jenna's story, they had to break up. Looking back, it seems to tie together, but at the time it must've felt so flawed. The fact is that they had to step away from each other in order to grow. If they hadn't broken up, she wouldn't have moved into his old neighborhood. He wouldn't have gone back to the coffee shop. And the beauty of returning to each other along this Mobius Strip wouldn't have been able to happen. This crazy love that didn't make sense was able to find a "novelistic" completeness.

Is there such a thing as a love that is "meant to be"? No idea. Even if it is the most destined of all destinies, there are going to be times when things are tough. But, when you know, I think you really do know. Trust everything about that.

This whole idea that there is only one person out there for you seems really unlikely. There are just so many fish in the sea. If there is only one match, does that mean that some of us just don't get matches? The population can't possibly be evenly split, right?

But, here's the thing...

Even the improbable is completely possible.


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  • It's 6:30am, I'm inebriated, just got back from a charity event at the Hard Rock Hotel and the after-party at Board Room; have to go to work in an hour and half....but concerning true love, I just have to give you this quote from the film The Princess Bride:

    "Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world, except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe." -Miracle Max


  • In reply to gwill:

    Hee hee

  • "completely possible"? Is that like saying 'very unique'?

    BTW, I met my future wife while both of us were working at a bank. Is this why the motif of money keeps enticing me with its purchasing power?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I definitely think so. It's totally possible...but people seem to keep getting it wrong! What gives!

  • Here's my theory: any two people can be together, some are just more compatible than others. I bet if you met many of your current guy friends under different circumstances at different times in your life, you might be romantically involved and it might last a few weeks, months or years. i.e. Meet Kent +/- 2 years and your relationship lifespan is different.

    So instead of thinking of a Soul Mate as the one person who completes you, think of them as the subset of human* beings on the planet who are genetically, socially or magically hard wired to maximimize compatability with you.

    * so as not to offend the Martian contingent, let's just go with life forms.

  • In reply to Icarus:

    Couldn't agree more. I believe, more often than not, the difference between a relationship lasting and ending is timing. Not to add to the stress of the single-folk still out there, but it's not just about meeting the right person, it's about meeting the right person at the right time in both of your respective lives.

    A lot of people-- both "coupled" and single have that "one that got away." I think in many cases, that person may very well have been the right person who just happened to come into one's life at the wrong time for one or the other of you.

  • In reply to Perplexio:

    I think there's a post there. :)

  • In reply to AnaFernatt:

    You're right... I actually posted on this back in 2009 as an extrapolation of another blog post I'd read:

  • I don't think children's stories about princesses or Love Actually tell us anything truthful about love or soulmates. Since Gutenberg writers (both of fiction and advertisements) have taken love and warped it out of proportion to sell books and absolutely anything. So today love is nearly unrecognizable in real life. It's hard to find something if you don't know what you are looking for.

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    Here's another great quote from Kundera: “The goals we pursue are always veiled. A girl who longs for marriage longs for something she knows nothing about. The boy who hankers after fame has no idea what fame is. The thing that gives our every move its meaning is always totally unknown to us.”

  • fb_avatar

    This post made me feel less lazy ;-)

    Or should I just find someone who I know I could stand for the next 50 years of my life? He might not be a Prince Charming, but he's handsome, nice and passable. I'll believe that I love him, but I won't believe in that fabled idea of a soulmate. We'll be happy, but I won't think he is "the one"...I'll think there is no such thing as "the one."

    I believe I've met my soul mate, and our lives would be a miserable mess were we to have tried to maintain a relationship. After almost 13 years my breath catches when I think of him. I think the adult in me realizes that love doesn't conquer all. He may be my "soul" mate, but he's not my "brain" mate. I think our love would have been the stuff of movies, but not "The Notebook". Maybe Psycho...

    I'm approaching 8 years with my husband, who is my best friend in the whole world. There are moments where my love for him is overwhelming and makes me feel that my heart will burst, but the vast majority of the time what binds us is that our lives are compatible, we are committed to our marriage and we plod along in pursuit of our shared goals.

    Prince Charming he ain't, but I can't imagine my life without him. Do I think that I could find someone who makes me equally as happy, probably. Do I want to look? Hell no.

  • In reply to Nichole Heilbron:

    I never replied to this. But I love every sentence. :)

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