“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

Recently I have been given a bit of a forced epiphany regarding my views on relationships and endurance.  I hate to think I am a slow learner, but after two marriages, I realize that what I know may be a mote in the eye of what I do not.

Even after the slow dissolution of my first marriage, through neglect (mine) and indifference (his), I tried to recover what lessons I could from the ruined shambles.  I stepped down my career and made it the lesser half of my life.  I learned to be less defensive and insecure about my individuality and found solace in surrending a part of myself to “coupledom”.  I accepted that marriages were something to be cherished, a sacred trust, a life partnership that had to be between equals, with the respect given an equal.

What I did not lose, despite all experience to the contrary, was my vision of what I thought a “perfect marriage” should be.  Marriage was my bulwark against the slings and arrows of daily existance, my solace, my haven.  I was the scientist who traded in my ivory tower in academics for a new one in matrimony.  In my second marriage, I felt truly blessed to have been given a soulmate, a person with whom I was “more myself” than I could ever be alone.  My marriage was my castle inviolate with gleaming walls and inside I was safe in the garden.

But the reality remains that castles have cracks and gardens have snakes.

And when this reality confronts you with a cold slap you have two options.

You can let the fantasy around you crumble, and rebuild it again from the rubble, recreating it anew, brick by brick.  Which is a seductive thing because, in our society, imperfection offends the eye. Who has not dropped coffee on a new blouse, and replaced it because it could never again be brought back to pristine newness.  We disdain the worn, the patched and the old.  Novelty buys excitement and happiness.  We are a country that reinvents itself daily.

But that option carries its own burden.  Lives cannot be replaced as easily as blouses.  Novelty cannot replace the comforting softness of a well-worn sweater, the low gleam of light left on lovingly by the table for the return home.  It lacks the familiar smell and treads of the house we have built, the house we can navigate with our eyes closed, even though we occasionally may stumble.

So together we mix the mortar to patch our walls, drive the snakes from the garden and mend our fences.  And in the end, what is left is not a gleaming fortress, but a patchwork cottage, humble and careworn.

But not untended.

Not unloved.

Perhaps perfection is something, when applied to life and marriage, can only be judged in hindsight.  It is a painting painted equally of tears and laughter, of anger and hurt, but also of forgiveness and grace.  The end product has a beauty that can only be viewed from the inside.

Because it is our home.

And we will build it together.

July 4th, 2007 at 12:23 pm
8 Responses to “Psychomachia”
  1. 1
    jodi Says:

    Lovely post!

  2. 2

    patchwork cottages are the best kind

  3. 3
    maggie Says:

    I agree, patchwork is wonderful – in it you see the old and the new, the carefully tended, the threadbare, and the needs repair. It is ever-changing, ever old and ever new.

  4. 4
    Kazimir Says:

    I am amazed at the insight of everything I come across on this blog.

  5. 5

    Awww…words of wisdom. 🙂 As an unmarried I will take your words to heart.

  6. 6
    CinnKitty Says:

    And then still, some people are destined to not build a cottage for two. Instead, they will keep their studio or one bedroom apartment, that they have no permanent committment to, and be content with that.

    For some of us: Home is where we make it, not what it makes of us. And with this too, we are content.

    Much love to you, the Moosester and Harrypotamus!

  7. 7

    So true. Beautifully written.

  8. 8
    Tracey Says:

    Forgiveness and grace are HIGHLY underrated these days. You, my girl, have come to a beautiful conclusion. From my years of knowing you guys, I feel that your “patchwork cottage” is more perfect than any fabricated, manufactured, contrived vision of a perfect, sprawling estate.