There Can Be Only One – Soulmates, Dragons And Unicorn Sandwiches
The Internet. It’s not all amusing cats, sex and Facebook. Well, okay, it’s about 96 percent those things but there’s other stuff on there too. Motivational memes are pretty popular. Happiness is a subject that crops up a great deal. Lots of unhappy people on the internet, apparently. As anyone who has spent more than five minutes interacting on Twitter can tell you.
“Don’t rely on other people for your happiness, make it yourself” appears to be the advice. It’s good advice, but it is a little simplistic. The truth is, you can’t just make your own happiness.
Not that I’m saying you have no control over how happy you are going to be. You absolutely do, and the first step is to just decide that you are going to be happy. That’s pretty obvious if you think about it, but sometimes the obvious can be the most difficult thing to spot in life.
You can be the architect of your own happiness, and you can build the vast majority of it personally, but you can’t build all of it. It’s too big a job. The emotional equivalent of moving house. Theoretically, you could do it on your own but it’d take far too long and there would be way too much heavy lifting. You need help. Help from your friends. Help from your family (the ones you can stand to be in the same room as, anyway). And, should you be fortunate enough to have one, help from that special person in your life. Your significant other. Your partner. Y’know, The One.
I can’t pretend to speak for the female of the species on this subject, but I think I can offer some thoughts from the male perspective. So here goes.
You often hear men say “I am so lucky, because my wife is also my best friend”. These men are idiots. You already have a best friend, so stop pretending that job now belongs to your wife, because it doesn’t. Or maybe you didn’t have many friends to begin with and you just proposed to the first woman who would fuck you more than twice. Probably a more likely scenario.
The last thing your wife should be is your best friend. She should be something far more important than that. She should be your worthy adversary. Yes, she should love you and take care of you and you should do the same for her. We’ll take all that as read. But she should also challenge you and stretch you and constantly help you grow as a man. Above all she should make you think. And when she isn’t there, you should miss her like Sherlock Holmes misses Moriarty. Holmes relies on his best friend, Dr Watson, but it’s Moriarty that sets his soul aflame and stokes the fire in his belly.
So, your wife should not be your friend. But should she be your soulmate? Of course she should. But there are soulmates and there are soulmates. There’s the kind of soulmate that shares your love of poetry and music. They’ll hold your hand as you walk through a forest or stroll next to a river and will be capable of enjoying a comfortable silence with you. When you’re together you will both be in an intense, magical little bubble that makes the rest of the world melt away into irrelevance.
Then there’s the other kind of soulmate.
They’ll do all of this stuff too, naturally. Who wouldn’t? It’s fun. But they won’t stop at stroking the warm, fuzzy surface of your soul. They’ll go much further. They won’t be afraid to get their hands wet with the blood and the gore that’s a part of every beautiful soul. To plunge their arms in up to the elbow and rummage around in the guts and the gristle that’s a part of what really makes you tick. They’ll only do this when you are ready to let them, of course. And they’ll only go so far, because everybody needs a part of them that is exclusively theirs. Anyone who tries before you want them to and won’t accept that they can never know all of you is not your soulmate. They’re Hannibal Lecter. You are not a meal to be consumed with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
That’s the sort of soulmate you want. The patient, accepting one, that is. Not the Hannibal Lecter one.
There’s a lot on the internet about soulmates. “Are There Different Kinds Of Soulmate?”, “Do Soulmates Really Exist?” etc etc. And most of what has been written on the subject views finding a soulmate though a very misty, doe-eyed filter. Like it’s all a sunny picnic where you make daisy chains out of rainbows and eat unicorn sandwiches. And a lot of it will feel like that. Quite a lot of it, in fact.
Sometimes though, there’ll be dragons at the picnic. They won’t be the friendly “Puff The Magic Dragon” sort of dragon either. The kind that lets you ride on his back and only attacks pirates. These will be the unfriendly “teeth like park railings” sort of dragon, and they’ll be coming after you. But that’s okay, because you can stand side by side and fight them together and in some ways that is the best and most beautiful bit.
One of the questions frequently posed on the internet is : “How Do I Know If I’ve Found My Soulmate?” Oh, you’ll fucking know alright. It’ll be the single most bewildering experience of your entire life and it definitely won’t be all rainbows and unicorn sandwiches. The modern concept of a romantic soulmate was invented by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and he wrote “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”.
You don’t need to find your soulmate to be happy though. But just like there’s soulmates and there’s soulmates, there’s happiness and there’s happiness. Buddhists believe that happiness and contentment are our natural ground states and that the only thing preventing us from experiencing them is ourselves. They believe the human capacity for happiness is infinite.
As any mathematician will tell you, some infinities are bigger than others. They’ll bang on about Georg Cantor. They’ll talk animatedly about Hilbert’s Hotel and fitting infinite coach loads of guests into an infinite number of already occupied rooms and they’ll probably lose you after about thirty seconds.
So, just like there are soulmates and soulmates and some infinities are bigger than others, there are types of happiness that are just…well…. happier than the others.
The sad fact is that if soulmates do exist, the chances of finding “The One” are absurdly remote. There are seven billion people on the planet. For all I know my “One” is currently tending a paddy field in Vietnam and doesn’t speak a word of English.
Our personal worlds are not very big. They are like little spheres, spinning and orbiting around one another like the planets and moons in the solar system. What are the chances that that there will be some sort of conjunction that will allow the axes of two of these wandering spheres to align enough to create some sort of powerful resonance? There would have to be a very bizarre set of coincidences, like some sort of human Jupiter Effect. Having said that, we live in a big, weird world and bizarre sets of coincidences happen suspiciously frequently. Sometimes worlds don’t just align, they collide. When they do, there’s a lot of fire and it all gets a bit seismic. The worlds get smashed to bits, but there’s a good chance the two worlds will then coalesce into a new world. A bigger, better world.
And who’s to say that there has to be only one soulmate for you? If you subscribe to the theory that a soulmate is a soul you have met in a previous life, you could have had hundreds of previous lives. Or thousands even. So there could be hundreds or thousands of soulmates out there for you.
That still doesn’t mean you will meet any of them, of course. Maybe you don’t have to. Maybe you can just make your own soulmate. Just find someone who is kind and nice and shares your values. Someone patient and understanding who you happen to fancy the arse off of. Perhaps that’s all that relationships are : building your own soulmate. Or at least building a world together that’s more than the sum of the parts of the individual worlds you inhabited before.
Whether you meet your soulmate or make your own out of emotional Lego, your life will be better. As I’ve said, it won’t all be rainbows and unicorn sandwiches, but it will be better. The quantity of amusing cats involved will be up to the consciences of the individuals concerned, but there will definitely be sex. And you’ll spend a lot less time on Facebook.
Copyright Michael Grimes 2017