A girlfriend told me earlier this week that her kids remarked that “Auntie L must be rich, cos she drives a bright red Mercedes.” That was somewhat flattering… I think. I don’t think they meant anything by it though personally, I think wealth, or the perception thereof, is relative. To someone who would and could splash out on a Ferrari, I would probably be the unprivileged who only drives a Mercedes. So I try not to overanalyse anything when I’m made aware of such notions. Human beings will always form opinions of others – sometimes good, sometimes bad, most times changing with the seasons and reasons, all the time inconsequential cos life is lived by the one who has it, not by the people who pass judgement on it.
But it did get me thinking about things. I bought my car cos I wanted to. I can give you a thousand reasons why I needed / deserved one – I was trained from a young age to justify my existence, thanks to my draconian mother and her over-exacting standards, but the truth is, my car, and many other things in my life, I have or made happen, simply because I wanted it. They’ve not always been good, or smart decisions, or even beneficial, but they were always of my choosing. My life of recent years has always been about me, myself and I. I do what I want, when I want, if I want. Some call it narcissism, some call it self-absorption, some others call it self-assurance. I think I’m all of the above, all of the time, it just depends on the viewer’s perspective. But as I’ve said earlier, I pay little heed to (or at least try) what others think, so it’s inconsequential what others choose to call me. What I struggle with, though, is the fact that soon, I will have to care. At least about one person’s opinion of me.
As October 22 draws ever closer, I find myself getting increasingly angsty about making space for another person. Not physical space – that’s a walk in the park compared to the emotional and spiritual angst I’m feeling. In many ways, I think marriage is an invasion of self. If one subscribes to the philosophy of the authentic existentialist, isn’t the union of two distinct personalities the very definition of madness? If it is that authenticity, the ability to be true to oneself in spite of external pressures, is a central tenet to the existentialist’s philosophy, how can marriage, the union of two separate personalities, be conducive to the quest for self? How can one be truly free to be oneself and true to their own realities and personalities when they have to live in close and constant proximity with another with different and often competing needs?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not unhappy or unwilling to be married. I have accepted the reality that in coming together with someone else, there will be parts of myself that I will have to keep tucked away, bits of myself that will have to adapt. The part that stresses me out is how I am going to exist and develop as a person without compromising what’s unique to me, nor creating a rift in the relationship with the person I have chosen to grow old with. Two conflicting intentions that must co-exist.
Constant mindfulness, I think, is a given. Compromising out of love and respect for the other is inevitable, but awareness is needed so one always remembers that while your chosen one is unimpressed with one facet of your personality, its existence and authenticity cannot be denied. It exists, it is real, but for the sake of harmony, you choose to indulge it in lesser measure, all the while knowing exactly what you are doing.
There are many things I will have to temper when I get married. My addiction to speed-induced adrenaline is one of them, shopping at the drop of a hat is the other, leaving unwashed dishes in the sink till my part-time cleaner comes around to do them is another, so is procrastination, and spending a whole weekend of doing nothing more than reading / solving Sudoku puzzles / shopping for hours on end / sprawling in bed watching consecutive seasons of Frasier, all things I do now, and all things I love doing now.
Theoretically I know what marriage entails. But in practice, I’m cognizant it will take a lot to co-exist in a marriage, without forgetting who you are or lying to yourself about what you believe in, what you’re worth, and why you exist. It’s a balancing game I think – between solitude and harmony. A balancing game that I’ve never been good at, but that I inadvertently chose to play, by way of choosing to be married. I’m not sure it’s the smartest decision, I’m not sure it’s the right decision. But that doesn’t mean that I have doubts. It just means that life is a box of chocolates, you don’t ever know what you’re gonna get until you pop that last praline in your mouth. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, I think. You just take what comes, and hope that with the myriad of possibilities, most of them will be filled with your favourite dark chocolate ganache. If they mostly turn out to be yucky rum and raisin, well, at least be truthful to yourself about it.