“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat,” by Theodore Roosevelt.
I awoke this morning after having many crazy dreams. I was still trying to figure out what they meant when I did my morning “prayer”.
What would You have me do?
Where would You have me go?
What would you have me say? And to whom? (ACIM)
My first thought was about failure. Failure is not an event or an experience. It is a judgment. I then thought of the “failed” peanut butter cookies I made for a school fundraiser in high school. I was vain at the time and was not wearing my glasses while I read the peanut butter cookie recipe. I got all the ingredients in the bowl and started to mix them together. Problem One: the recipe called for dates and I neither had any nor did I want them in my cookies. Problem Two: the recipe didn’t call for any peanut butter in my peanut butter cookies.
Uh Oh! Wrong recipe. I now had dough with some ingredients one would use to make peanut butter cookies and some not. I doubled the recipe and tried to adjust and yes added peanut butter this time. (I came from a poor family — throwing it out wasn’t an option). I felt like a failure. I was baking these for the National Honor Society Bake Sale of which I was a member and I couldn’t even follow a basic recipe.
The next day mine were the first cookies to sell out. They received rave reviews. And I was asked for the recipe by multiple people. (Yeah. Lots of luck with that)
At home my cookies were a failure. At school my cookies were a success. In fact, these were both judgments.
The fragrance industry makes lots of money and considers itself a success. The fragrance industry has resulted in my disability and a life threatening condition and I consider it a failure. These are judgments.
I finally understand that this is how two people can be in a relationship and one is perfectly content and one is miserable. The failure/success of the relationship is based on events and experiences: He never buys me presents or she never watches the game with me. It is possible to be a couple who never speak or spend time together and are totally apathetic toward each other and still consider the marriage a success — if a marriage is defined as two people living under the same roof with a signed marriage contract. Period.
I feel that I have stayed in the gray twilight of love NOT because I was afraid of failure but I was afraid of success. Analyzing my last few romantic relationships this is now obvious to me. Both of us were afraid of succeeding at love. Whenever the relationship started to succeed and love began to grow, one of us would do something to sabotage the relationship. Both of my last relationships, I now also see the pattern that I was ready to go beyond this self-sabotage. I was “ready to dare for glorious triumphs”. But my partners still wanted to stay in the gray twilight neither feeling great joy nor risking great pain.
The one thing I learned from my marriage/divorce was that love is essential for me to have a successful marriage BUT it is not enough of a reason to get married or even stay married. I am now learning this is true for all relationships. Just because I love someone doesn’t mean the relationship is going to work out.
If my life is represented by me standing in a beautiful sun-drenched glade with flowing stream and wild flowers. And my partner is standing next to me stubbornly refusing to open their eyes and see what I see or listen to what I hear or feel the warmth of the sun … I can love them all I want, but eventually, my trying to share my experience in the light with someone who wants to stand in the gray twilight — is going to separate us. If I am exuding glorious triumph all the time and he wants gray twilight all the time — no amount of love will make this relationship a success. For one of us the differences in experiences and events will probably force the relationship to be judged a failure.
Relationships are the arena where my spiritual beliefs are tested. I can believe all I want that I “know” all about love. I won’t truly KNOW until I share this love with someone else. The important thing I learned after all of my “checkered failures” is that it is okay to hold onto the love and let the relationship go. I loved my kindergarten teacher. I had to let her go after she taught me all she could so that I could learn from new teachers with different perspectives. And so it is with love. For some reason, I have a harder time letting go of those who taught me lessons in love so that I can grow.
Today’s Intention: Turn on all the lights and dispel the gray twilight.
Have you held onto a relationship you know that your should have let go of? Or are you fortunate to have all your relationships be “glorious triumphs”?