I also wrote a poem about this kind of love called US. It is hard to believe that it has been 2½ years since I wrote that poem. Here it is again:
Life exists within each of us as a form of the Divine.
A tangible essence of who we are.
Love is when our essence became entwined.
Each an equal half of the other.
"I love you" simply awakens the US in you and me.
© August 23, 2012 Samuel A Simon, The Actual Dance
All rights reserved
It was during the process of working with the students on what became “Our Story” that the reflection on the other side of love originated. We had three terrific students: Allie Gardner, Geet Jeswani and Chantel Romero Hernandez and their work product is really beautiful. A funny thing happened during the production. The students became fascinated by Susan and my relationship, and especially in how we were expressing our “love” toward each other. As the filming was finishing up and the lights were being turned off, they finally asked. “What’ the secret to your love and relationship.” “How has it lasted so long in a world where most people get divorced or don’t even marry any longer?”
What came to mind then and what comes to mind today in the juxtaposition of “bad luck” and “valentine’s day” is that it take lots of hard work and a bit of good luck. And that is why I call it “the other side” of love. On Valentine’s Day, at least, love becomes a facile word that connotes delight and ease and airiness. Cupid with wings and a bow with arrows of love that stand for erotic attraction and affection.
Our answers I think surprised our young friends. We said that there are two parts to love that becomes a life together. The first is a promise and the second is a decision to keep that promise. Our first date – which by the way is dramatically presented in a scene in The Actual Dance – occurred sometime in the fall of 1964 or early winter 1965. So let’s just declare it 50 years ago! We were just 19 years old.
There is I am sure research about the different phases of marraiges. There were many times when it might have been easier to end it than continue it. Two human beings can get tired, or irritated or disappointed. It probably helped that we both came from families where there were no divorce. We didn’t know what that would look like, so maybe that helped. It did seem “unthinkable” for us, even at times when one of us might have thought it was a good idea.
It is in the clarity of retrospect though that I believe that the “secret sauce” is that we did promise to spend the rest of our lives with each other; and along the way despite temptations to do otherwise, we decided to keep that promise.
That decision became a strategic plan. Our business was to stay married and find happiness and fulfillment in that relationship. With that goal, every decision needed to be measured against how it would facilitate achieving our objective. A business fame work for those who need it. Yet it works, for even in business there are always road blocks, bad luck, temptations that can distract or take you down wrong paths. Good companies like “good couples” keep their eye on the strategic goal and purpose of the organization.
As we glide now through life at the speed that age brings (time is perceived as passing faster the older you get), we have begun to regale in the beauty of that decision and the road we traveled. While there were hard times we don’t focus on them. We see and remember only the good times and the lessons learned from the hard or “bad’ times.
We now spend more time with each other As our external lives wind down, no longer lured by fame and fortune of career, what is still here is our relationship Each other. It gets better every day and with every new discovery of life in our “senior” years. Don’t mistake that with sitting around home doing nothing. I am now a playwright and actor and Susan is about to transition from her full time job as a director of marketing and admissions at Tall Oaks at Reston. Our kids and grandkids delight us and offer us ample opportunity to spend time and energy with them.
Despite how “good” everything is, we never forget our promise to each other. What The Actual Dance has done for us as a couple is that it allowed us to have the most difficult of all conversations – how will we fulfill the last part of the promise? To be there so long as we shall live. The grace of The Actual Dance is to examine that existential transitional moment and allow us to know that perhaps it is the most important part of the promise. To be with each other at that moment.