Came across a Leonard Cohen quote/life philosophy this morning that resonated deeply with me.
This is part of a conversation he was having with a friend.
He is well known for his many romantic entanglements as well as a complete inability to commit. So the following could be rationalization on his part.
Or it could be truth.
"Look, here's what I know: marriage is the hardest spiritual practice in the world. People wonder how anybody can sit on Mt. Baldy (Editor's note - a severe and strict Buddhist retreat where Cohen spent five years of his life at the height of his fame) for hours on end, weeks, months even, but it's nothing compared to marriage. If you're really there, really present for marriage, it's self-reflection twenty four/seven. In other words who you are is reflected back to you in the mirror of your marriage partner, daily, minute by minute, hour by hour. Who can take that?"
I see truth.
When you spend your life with another human being there is a mutual responsibility to function at your highest, to do the best you can possibly do, to achieve the end result of a harmonious and fulfilling life.
Life is a precious gift. Marriage partners need to work together to make the most of this gift, to elevate it and celebrate it at the highest possible level.
This is next to impossible. In fact I believe that one of the reasons that love dies is through the failure of one or both partners to achieve at the level of their potential. Bitterness sets in, resentment sets in, petty human reactions take over and there is bickering, anger, broken hearts and suffocated souls.
The mirror can also act in a positive way when one partner is busy underachieving.
In pure honesty I can tell you that I feel like a disappointment to Carol minute by minute, hour by hour. I see myself as a failure (up to now - I am not done yet) so therefore I see and feel that failure reflected in our life together.
Carol does not express that to me, she does not even do it through body language or attitude, but I believe it is there.
She could not possibly have said to herself when she committed to me: "Wow, I hope when I am sixty one we are struggling together financially and that Joe is floundering around trying to figure out what the hell to do with and about his life."
I hypothesize at times what I would do with my life right now if I was not married. I think I would find the cheapest apartment around, live as simply as I could to remove all financial pressure, so I could devote all my time and energy to writing and self-analysis.
That would never happen.
If I was on my own my intentions would be as I described them, but I know the reality is that I would end up floating down whiskey river and good time alley, bar stool by bar stool in every blues joint and broken down bar until I had succeeded in pissing my life away.
I am committed to this marriage and I love Carol.
I do not want to let her down any more than I already have. I still believe that I will make something out of myself even at this late hour, and other than to satisfy my own ego the major motivating factor is to make Carol feel proud of me.
This is the positive side to the marriage mirror.
We have a life together. Whether it is true of not I believe I have not kept up my side of the bargain.
Because of that our life is less than it could be.
I refuse to give up and the biggest reason for that is that I have Carol by my side.
The reflection from that mirror hurts me but it also motivates me.
That is not a bad balance.