You know the thing where people ask……well is it THIS or is it THAT?
Well I think that question is limiting, for, although there is, indeed, a THIS and a THAT, there are miles of wasteland in between just waiting to be claimed.
I don’t mean that when asked, Would you like tea or coffee, you can step into this wasteland. I know people who do it, mostly women, and it drives me bonkers. I want to yell at them to make up their minds before the kettle water settles and begins to cool, and, by the way, I didn’t invite you for a week. I have dithered the same way myself, and the reason I believe it is mostly a woman thing, is because we have not allowed ourselves to be decisive. Decisive is for our men and we have no place being so outrageously forward.
I can hear the young women murmuring dissent. And hallelujah to that! But, I speak from my 60 yr old mind, one born in a time when those of us who decided to be ‘different’ from our fellow females, gained labels.
In a primary relationship – oh for goodness sake, let’s forget trendy counselling lingo and say it like it is – in a marriage (or equivalent) there is plenty of waste ground, and it is often wasted. All ground is waste ground until somebody develops it. When two strangers decide to hook up and stick, with almost no knowledge of what it will be like to live together, the initial period of time is often pregnant with gifts of demonstrated love. Tenderness and compassion, unselfish acts of generosity, use of the communal car, allowance for mistakes, dinner dates and thoughtful gifts may allow each one to think they had stepped on board the glory train headed for heaven. This is it. My soul mate. No effort required. Just magic.
And then real life, having been kept outside the door with the wellies and the dogs, sneaks back in and pulls up a chair. And thank goodness it does, because now we begin the work of learning how to share our own selfish life with another who, by the way, doesn’t agree with a whole lot of things we thought were without a single flaw, and therefore, the right way to be.
If this makes us unhappy, we now face the waste ground and, as I said before, it is not dangerously peppered with mines, as we may have been led to believe, but empty and fertile and longing to be claimed.
Tempting thought it might be to scurry back indoors, to allow the other to make the rules and therefore to define us by exerting a stronger desire to lead, we are doing the relationship no favours by folding like so much material. This, again, is more of a woman thing in my experience and it is not through lack of character that we fold, but because our natural longing is for peace. We think that, by becoming part of the wallpaper, we are achieving what our men want.
We are wrong. But how to change things?
Well, we don’t. Change things. We change ourselves.
One day we do something different, with gentle grace, no teeth, no claws, no accusations, no bitterness. We just quietly take action. I can’t tell anyone the what or the how, but I can promise it works, in time, albeit with many false starts and plenty of self-doubt.
I remember when I decided to go to art school. It was thoroughly inconvenient, not least because my interview was on Monday and the first class was on Wednesday. I had no spare cash, no car to drive the distance to college, and no pencil case. I spoke to a friend who knew of someone selling a little car, saw it and had just enough to buy it. By Wednesday morning I was ready. No, I wasn’t, I was terrified of everything. I drove the whole way in third gear and almost along the grass verge. But, as I claimed my own bit of wasteland, day by day, things changed. Resistance mellowed, confidence grew from its tiny seed, colour and movement, texture and composition, a new ritzy rhythm beat in my scared heart. And the wasteland is wasteland no more.