This letter may be a little different from others that you get, since I already know what I'm going to do. Instead, I'm trying to figure out what the things I've done mean. I was fairly surprised by your advice to Torn Apart -- not that you suggested she follow her heart, so much as your condoning her hiding it from her current spouse.
I found myself in a similar situation (on the other side). I had been married for seven years, to a woman who is beautiful and crazy about me. However, with a fear of emotional intimacy on my part, and a fear of physical intimacy on hers, we never quite clicked and had been on a rocky course for the last seven years. When I met my soul mate, she was happily married to a man with a stay-at-home job, a beautiful daughter, and literally the day before she met me, had thought to herself that her life could not be better.
We met at a professional convention. We coincidentally had the same flight home, and became so engrossed in our conversation that we almost missed our connection. It's scary how well we understand each other. She says it's our past life connection. We followed the outline of your advice and began a discreet emotional affair. In the end, due to considerations of her daughter's welfare and her husband's health we decided that we weren't meant to be together in this lifetime. I confessed to my wife and after much crying and counseling, we've made a lot of progress toward addressing the issues that have kept us apart.
What does it mean that I love my wife and she loves her husband and we agree that we're best off where we are, but that we have this connection that touches us to our very souls? You've mentioned Plato's Symposium, about how true love consists of finding our other half. Well, we found our other halves, but it seems our true calling in life is working things through with other people. Are we just settling, or are we doing the true and right thing?
Wandering in the Desert
Dear Wandering in the Desert,
What does it mean? Perhaps it means that for the ideal and the real to influence each other, each must be manifest in a form the other recognizes. Your notion of the ideal mate, for instance, had no concrete meaning for you until it manifested as a woman with lungs and a heart. Likewise, your real problems with your actual mate remained inexpressible and abstract until you were able to act out your dissatisfaction with a real, live woman.
Thus gods and men bump each other in the night.
Thus "The intellect of man is forced to choose perfection of the life or of the work, and if it take the second must refuse a heavenly mansion raging in the dark."
It would have been easier, of course, if you had said not "What does it mean?" but "What do I do?" But you knew that. The realm of "What does it mean?" is the realm of Plato and Yeats, not Tennis. So I humbly direct you to the room down the hall where the poets and philosophers sit in straight-backed chairs, idly whittling and grousing about the lousy living conditions.
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