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The Question

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During a speaking engagement wither it be to a professional group or to some civic organization. A school (Primary, or Secondary) or to a College or University. Or sometimes to an impromptu gathering. that someone has arranged; one central question surfaces, although it is expressed indirectly in many different ways. All roads somehow lead to "Love, Marriage and the Family". This is partly due to the nature of this trek around the World. And the years involved in its' completion. Which often brings forth the questions; "What does your wife or family think about this long odyssey?" Are you lonely, do you miss your family? Are you happy, are you at peace with yourself?"

Plus; those times when I am responding to someone who has heard by word of mouth, or read it in a Newspaper article, that I have been married a number of times, four to set the record straight. I am always slightly amused by the fact that both the News and the TV reporters in their interviewing are so fascinated with this same line of questioning. That the journey almost becomes secondary. Seldom do they miss mentioning the marriages in the article or on the air. This same fascination holds true in gatherings; if there is prior knowledge of my trips to the altar. The person who ends up asking the question can hardly wait until the "question and answer" period arrives. So they can pop the sixty-four thousand dollar question. I usually side-step the question, for the simple reason; I have limited time. If the gathering is small and time is not a factor. Then I answer.

Let us first deal with two of the lead up questions, before dealing with the central issue. As sort of a run-up to, a prelude if you like.

Question: "Are you happy and at peace with yourself?"

Well, I can say that I am no longer beset upon by all the anxieties and fears that cause a numbing of the mind and spirit. That so quickly can rob one of life and its' abundance. Am I happy? Personally, yes! Collectively, most of the time. But what I see and hear as I walk in and around this big beautiful World of ours, does pull and tug at the hearts strings, now and then, causing me both pain and sorrow. For we the citizens of this World can sink down into the most abysmal levels of degradation. And then, there are those moments when we go and play among the stars. There is no doubt that we become our own worst enemy at times. Are we not a "puzzlement?"

I am always aware, in the presence of suffering. But if the suffering is self-inflicted; brought on by the persons' own decision and effort. In doing those things which are unnecessary as opposed to doing those things which are necessary. Which in more cases than not, one knows the difference. Here my compassion level dips.
 
Our tendency to help in these circumstances, hinders more than it helps. Self-esteem, self-respect and self-reliance is a personal matter. You cannot give these things to anyone. These things are given by oneself to oneself. In to many instances our helping ends up in developing a co-dependency relationship. The caretakers of the world have a hard time in balancing this dilemma. If we can help someone to the point that they will no longer need our help in the future, so they are self-sustaining: standing on their own feet, so to speak. The task is completed.

Please excuse the detour. Back to the question: Am I happy?

Why wouldn't I be happy and at peace with myself. I speak to the wind, touch the stars and play hide-seek with the sun. And when I am thirsty; I drink the healing waters of life. When I am hungry; I have the food of the "Spirit of Truth", that satisfies my hunger. I am in the truest sense a child of "All and Everything". A Citizen of the World. As a whole; I am a gentle warrior but can become a fierce warrior when the situation warrants it.

So let's get on as we work towards the "sixty-four thousand dollar question". It is said that "Love and Marriage" go together like a horse and carriage. 'Tis,true, so true! "You can 't have one without the other." Well, in reality you can, for to many do. For that which is taken for love flees the scene; when marriage walks in the front door, hand and hand with the World and Mr. Reality. The stars that fell, start returning back to the sky. And "Our Love Song" often becomes "What song"?

But for a moment let's stay with the analogy. That love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. If there is a horse and carriage, usually their is the coachman, the driver. That person which looks after both the horse and the carriage. He sees that the horse is properly nourished and groomed. And that the carriage is functioning and running smoothly. If he is a good coachman, he knows how to handle both the carriage and the horse, expertly in all situations.

In the above illustration, it is the coachman [i.e.,man and woman]. that brings together two differing entities (the horse and the carriage) to work in tandem, in balance and harmony. Each doing what each does best, so that a particular destination might be reached. Could we not speak in a similar fashion, about 'love and marriage'. In that these two entities {Love and marriage} can also be brought together, under the care, skill and expertise of the wife and the husband so that each of their destinations both individually and collectively can be reached.

A quick insert before we move into the rest of the story.

Love is not a word, it is an action. Not a re-action but a pro-action. To love; in Reality means...

That the person who is doing the loving is "Love." He or she becomes love, they are in the image of "Love". They can only love. Any other action that is a contradiction to this, is not love. May I repeat; love at its' deepest, most sincere level, "becomes Love, is Love. In this transformation, one becomes and is, "Love" personified. Any thought, feeling or emotion that is not of this "Love". Is counter-productive to this "Love-Reality".

Question: You have been married four times. Why? Are you still in favor of marriage? And what do your children and grandchildren think about this walking expedition you are on. Do you miss them?

Which one would you like for me to answer first? Better still let me choose. "Am I in favor of marriage. In a way all the above questions are interrelated. Yes!, I am in favor of marriage. But I would quickly add, getting married for all the right reasons, Which is easily said, but rather difficult to do, especially when the hormones are operating at Mach speed. To many I am afraid, get married to just get out of the house. Some, to leave de-humanizing and abusive conditions. Others to just gain their freedom. Some get married for security reasons; to have someone to take care of them. Others to have children, to perpetuate the lineage. Others because of pressure from families, peers, society, or the clock is ticking. Some out of boredom, or loneliness. These are but a few of the reasons. For the influences are not always so cut and dried, they overlap at times.

Hey!. What about love? "What has love got to do with it"? I guess I would ask what kind of love are we talking about? Puppy-love, infatuation, "he loves me , he loves me not", or the moon, croon and June, type of love. What about sex? What has sex got to do with it? Well, one might say, if we were to be candidly honest about it. That the prime motivating factor at the onset of a relationship; is to a greater degree sexually based. Now, I am not a died in the wool Freudian student; who believes that all of life centers around the genitalia. But realistically speaking sex is one of the most powerful influences that touches every bit of human space. If a census could be taken and each gender would be perfectly honest with themselves. They would probably agree; that most relationships and marriages. Are consummated by decisions made below the belt line, in varying degrees. Sexual attraction; psychological arousal and a desire for a closeness, an intimacy with another. All seem to be the gravitational pull towards the opposite sex. I am convinced that our need to be loved, accepted and to belong to something, or someone coupled with the sexual nuances are the main elements. The over-riding factors or forces that come to play in all or in most all gender relationships. Be they of a casual nature or one of a more committed mature relationship that reaches beyond the immediate physical fulfillment and gratification. Too, a more integrated and complete "wholeness", a "communion" with another.

One of the great illusions that we have created through the media hype. Is the myth, that "love conquers all". We want so badly to believe this. We like the words " and they lived happily ever after". We want the Hollywood script endings in life, where the two lovers walk hand and hand into the sunset. We feel cheated if the ending turns out any different. Most of us are incurable romantics, well maybe not most of us but a good many. But in the daylight of reality, we learn that the meaning of love is deeper by far than any ocean. It is an "inherent gift" and it is the best of us. And if we choose to accept love it demands the very best of us. To paraphrase or to add a different spin to a phrase use by John F. K. "It is not what love can do for us, but rather what we can do for love and with love."

I have said it elsewhere but I will say it again as I am prone to do; " I ,me, mine and my are four pronouns that would best be left at the doorsteps of a relationship. For in doing so it would help us to realize a much needed quality for our relationships with our loved ones, friends, associates and yes, even the stranger.
 
A quality which speaks to; that which is the more excellent for our loved ones, friends, associates and all those we come in contact with. To make this a reality involves a commitment, a responsibility and a passionate intent towards this end. If this posturing and "Willed Intent" is to be achieved.

Is there an answer to the question:" What is love all about?" Yes! Love is all about ones' giving; a giving out of oneself. The giving of "who and what" we are, the giving of that which is the best, the more excellent of ourselves to our loved ones. A giving out of concern and compassion for the well-being of all. A love that carrys a commitment to give of those things that are the most conducive for the growth and evolution of those we love. If this is not a vital part of our love giving, love is of little value. Love gives, because love cannot help but give. It is its' nature. The giving of the more excellent of ones' self. So that the loved one might have a life that is abundant. A life that is alive and aware, that is the "color of joy and the sound of music". There is no greater gift that one can give than the giving of who and what one is. That is why it is so important for each of us to hear and understand: " Know thyself. "

As we have said elsewhere. It is difficult to give water to the thirsty, if the well is dry. Or food to the hungry, if the pantry is bare. One needs to asks; " where are those treasures of the self "? We are reminded of those words. "Silver and gold I have not, but what I do have I will give you."  Love must bring something to the table. And that something must be more than the desert. Regardless of how delectable it might be. The love, we have been speaking of has little to do with the giving of the silver and gold, or the "Cherries Jubilee", we so feverishly seek after. It has to do with ones' heart. Where ones' heart resides is where ones' treasures are.

I am convinced that when "right-ness" becomes written in the mind, heart and spirit. And we become and be right with "all and everything. We will have no need for mandates and laws. We will be these things. Just as if, and when we can come to our senses and love with all our mind, heart, soul and strength. The need for marriages and divorces will cease to be. And all our relationships will be in and of love. An unconditional love. Which we will discuss at another time.

Now for that sixty-four thousand dollar question. That raises the eyebrows and starts the chattering; "Did you know? Have you heard? And he was a 'man of the cloth', did you ever, how was that possible?

Why four trips down the 'rose-petalled' lane? Would you settle for, "I am a slow learner". No, I didn't think you really would. I said earlier that many, to many decisions to get married. Have to do with attraction, physical arousal and a decision made below the belt line. And I guess we could throw in, which would be true for some. A "collective romanticism" that exists via poem, song, movies and centuries of story telling. You know ; "the little white cottage with the white picket fence and communal bliss". Am I a cynic, far from it? Do I believe in marriage, again yes!. But only when each after marriage [purposely) live apart, in separate apartments or houses and date each other as lovers and friends. (Just having a thought, a fantasy) If the truth was known; there are to many couples who are living apart while staying married. For all sorts of crazy reasons; they think differently, act differently, and want different things. Happiness for them, is when the spouse leaves town for a day or two or more. Misery is when he or she returns. They are like two people riding on a train together, looking out of two different windows. How many have accepted this; calling this "love and marriage? When in truth they are just toleranting each other.

Well back to the question.

In the first marriage, Alana was eighteen , I was twenty-six; eight years is a lot of difference when the young lady in question knows the World in part, only by looking out through her parents' eyes, or the windows of the old homestead. And the young man is a veteran of WW II, street wise and traveled. The physiological and psychological arousal and attraction, were the main factors that initiated the relationship. We had three dates and steamed up all the windows. I left for Las Vegas, wrote love letters that toasted the paper. Finally asking Alana to fly to Las Vegas to get married. I had never met her parents who were living in Atlanta, Georgia. I had only met an aunt, who Alana was visiting in Houston at the time. I was living next door. But, I am fairly sure that Alana would agree, we were lovers, not companions. We were as different as "night and day". If you are interested in any further history. Check the "Macro-Bio".

The second and fourth were also relationships fanned by the winds of passion that consumed anything and everything in its' path. All sensibilities and caution ceased functioning. My "Achilles" heel surfaced again, laying to waste all logic and rationality. Once again my weakness for love, for loves' sake came front and center. And I walked into the fire; cogent of the possible impending consequences. But as usual with a naive hope and a belief that this was the one relationship that would move beyond the threshold of the fury of passion. And that we could find a mutuality of priorities and beliefs that would supplement and enhance our passions. But alas, time dashed this fanasty.

In all relationships but one, the age difference became one of the major factors. Winter/Spring relationships seldom weather the day by day realities of life. Are there exceptions, of course. That is why I was always optimistic that each one could or might be the exception. But in reality the odds are stacked against it. The experiential gap is to great. When you put one, two or three decades of differences between a man and a woman. Along with just the day by day adjusting to each others' idiosyncrasies. You are asking an awful lot of each party to be able to communicate and understand where each is coming from. Especially for the one who is trying to catch up in the uncharted territory. It is easier for the one who has been there but not that easy for someone who is yet to experience. You can walk to the door with them, but you cannot open it for them. This,they must do on their own. But as all married couples come to know. ""No one is a prophet in his own country".

In tow of the relationships there were step-children involved. This in itself can be a "can of worms". And a bigger one, if the children are entering their adolescence and the real father is in the picture. Again, the odds of non-adjustment increases. Someone once invited me to adjust and become part of the "chaos" at the time; the inmates were running the asylum. I declined for reasons of sanity and survival. Now if we add to this equation, the age difference and the experience factor. Plus a hands off approach to child raising as opposed to some order and sanity. We will find waiting in the wings, the makings of a dysfunctional family. And in this type of situation or any situation, it is not a matter as to who is right or wrong. Or a matter of who is winning and who is losing. It is a question of stability, consistency, priorities and direction. And we can throw in balance, peace and harmony. If these things are not on the horizon. Are not in the game plan. Where is the relationship, or relationships?

Surely it is more than jumping in and out of bed. Believing this, will solve all the problems. Sure sex is wonderful and exciting and all the superlatives we might add. But it is only a fraction of the wealth in a healthy relationship. Nor, will problems be solved by having more children, or a better job, or more money or any thing we might fantasize about. None of these will give us a love relationship with a capital "L". Nor a wholeness, or a fulfilled meaningful life. Without the core, the foundation; the giving of ones-Self to another. 

If we skip along on the surface of life. Like skipping stones across the pond. Our relationships will continue to suffer. Or they will end up in complacency, resignation, frustration and a resentment. Usually with a feeling as to "what is one to do, things are just the way they are". "woe is me"! There has to be some substance within each person. Everybody has to bring something to this table, to the relationship. That something is themselves, as to "who" and "what" they are. Of course the out lying problem is that in to many cases; we haven't the foggiest idea of "who and what we are, or where we are going"? So how can balance, peace and harmony become part of our relationships? Our mind, heart and spirit is not in the relationship. Our mind, heart and spirit is submerged in a thousand and one things, causing us not to be present in the present. Awareness is nowhere to be found.

Let's not linger here anymore.

Back to an attempt to shed some light on my relationships and why? My son in the one and only meeting we had later in life. Asked why, I married women much younger than myself? I had thought on this long before he asked the question. Especially after the first two marriages. The year differences within the four marriages were eight, fifteen, seven and twenty-two. The marriages lasted; seven, eleven, five and five years respectively. One child in the first marriage, a baby daughter, we named Michelle; who was eighteen months old when the divorce took place. In the second marriage there were two children; a boy, Mark Lee and a girl named Kerry Lee. The boy was six and the girl was a year old, when the second divorce came about. No children there after.

I believe one of the reasons for my marrying women who were younger. Was the fact that I always looked younger than I was, I still do. Today at seventy-two I am taken to be forty-five to fifty years of age. If and that is a big if I were to marry again, I would marry someone in there forties or late thirties. I am still very active, aware, and alive, with a wide range of interests. And the other reasons, both the physiological and the psychological, I have already spoken about.

As I have said publicly and privately, I have but few regrets. But I have not, nor do I linger there long. The decisions that were made pertaining to the divorces were not made hastily without thought. The second and third divorce changed a career that I had chosen to be my lifes' work. But it was not to be. All four relationships were affected by the age difference; priorities, lifestyle differences and how we each saw the World, people and the things of the World. We simply wanted different things out of life. We approached life differently.

I am not an advocate that believes that two people should stay together because of the children's sake. I have lived far to long and seen the ill affects of children being raised in a home where the environment was far more detrimental and less conducive for the well-being of the children. I know there are advocates for the other side. An their arguments are persuasive but since I have first hand information, out of my own childhood experiences. I am persuaded that a dysfunctional family is no family. And certainly not the ideal place for raising children. Can children carry scars from a divorce scenario. Yes, some do. But the healing process and the scar tissue, is also affected by the nightmarish ill effects of an ill-fated marriage. Where the children unfortunately became  part of, through no fault of their own. I believe that far more children survive and recover from a divorce. Than those who live in the most chaotic conditions imaginable. Are there irreconcilable conditions in marriages? Yes! Can some be mended, Yes! But the mend is vulnerable and highly susceptible to further tears in the fabric of that marriage. Can all be mended? "No", not at this point in time.

A great majority of the people who profess the reason for sticking together is for the children's' sake. Has nothing to do with the children. They stay together because of the Church, peer and societal pressure. For security reasons, job reasons, community property and some for selfish reasons, or for reasons only they know. No child should be raised in a loveless marriage, a marriage where there is utter psychological chaos. Along with a "laissez faire", "catch-as-you-catch-can" method of nurturing the child.

Much is publicized about the divorce rate, the broken homes, the single parent homes. As opposed to the merit of the many children who live in families, where there is both a mother and a father. Which is great! If both the mother and father are "Parents" in the truest sense of the word. Many are parents who are not parents 

Many are absentee parents.

Where both, or one, are seldom there in mind, heart and spirit. How many children live in families where there is a drunk for a father or a mother? How many children live in families where there is sexual and psychological abuse? How many children live in families where there are physical and verbal beatings on a daily or monthly basis? How many children are raised in families where they are but indentured slaves? How many children live in families where one or both of the parents are repeatedly unfaithful, or in the fathers' case, has a mistress.? How many children live in families where drugs are as common as sliced bread? How many children live in families where the parents could care less about the who, where, what and why of the child's life? How many children live in a family where there is no love loss between the parents? How many children live in families where there is little or no nurturing process taking place? How many children live in families where they learn nothing about self-esteem, self-respect and self-reliance? Talk to me, about how a loveless marriage, a dysfunctional, a chaotic marriage should stay together for the children's' sake.

Being part of a family does not necessary mean nor guarantee that children will have the most conducive conditions for their nourishment, for the growth and evolution of their body, mind and spirit. Parents need to evaluate and ask; is the present family structure a viable vehicle for the care and nurturing of their child? And the answer needs to be, "Yes!"

What promotes and postures this; this happens when the parents become aware and realizes they have been given a gift. A new born that needs to be nurtured and cared for, so that he or she may reach their highest potentialities and possibilities. There is no greater challenge than to help, to encourage, to motivate, to enhance and to empower a child. To be all he or she was created to be.

All that we have been discussing are A-1 priorities if one is to call themselves a parent. One is not a parent simply because they are related by blood, genes and chromosomes. Or a given mandate by the Court of Law. A PARENT is that person or persons who has the best interests of the child at heart. And not necessarily the parent's interests. Unless those interests happen to be for the welfare and care for the child or children at the highest level.

Here is where the values and priorities of the parent enter the picture. It is not a matter of what a parent thinks or believes to be right and wrong, or what he or she believes to be the more excellent for their child's' nurturing. We are talking about those things that will empower the child, that will create a balance and harmony in the child's' life and lay the foundations. So the child might learn how to reach their fullest potentialities and possibilities. As he/she goes through the various developmental learning stages. As he or she moves towards, not away from a wholeness and a fulfillment in life. And of course we are not talking about the parents doing a "Pygmalion" act on their children. As we have repeated so often, it is vital for the child's' maturation that they learn what it means to have self-esteem and self-respect. Along with the art of self-discipline and self-reliance. Everyone should be aware that in having a child, does not automatically bestow, the name parent. Parent is an earned name, not blood given. And holds a far reaching responsibility that the parent does everything in their power to enhance and engender the growth and evolution of their child/children.

And you ask; What is the most excellent way?

By actions more than words

We must never forget that a child, in bodily form is a given gift, a cherished gift of vast importance. With far reaching potentialities and possibilities . All adults, regardless of their race, creeds or religions, have a moral responsibility, in helping in the enhancement of the wholeness and the fulfillment of all, an any child, if at all possible in the course of the day. It might be as simple as a small word of encouragement. Or a smile and a "hello", "What is your name?"

Surely, all of us know how important it is to show love towards a child. But to smother a child with love and affection does more harm than good. It hinders more than it helps. But even more than this; children need to be taught as well as being loved, in the way they go. And by this I do not mean a restrictive hard line discipline. The word discipline comes from the word ,"disciple". Which means a learner. And that is what a child is about, he is natural learner. Inquisitive and curious from the start and a great imitator. Which means "more is caught than taught" What the parent is or the parents are not. Is what the child picks up on. Remember the expressions; "monkey see, monkey do." and  "little pitchers have big ears". It is not so much of that which you speak. As it is, in that which you are and do. This is how the child, excuse the expression becomes programmed. And for you Dewey-ites. Don't get hyper on me. The child is down loading all the time. Especially as he watches the adults around him. What the young need today are some good role models, some honest to goodness "heroes". Where have all the heroes gone?

How I do carry on.

Let me end this didactic monologue, with the words of a song, "Love has been good to me, along the way." What a pity so many can only remember the bad times and forget those moments of joy and passion. Those warm embraces and tender times that made the grass greener, the sky bluer and the air fresher. It is differences such as these, that become the reason for people to come to the divide in the road. Separation is never sudden, usually it is an accumulation of many separations along the way that never resolve themselves. Or at the very beginning, when love becomes buried beneath the ashes of a fiery passion that consumes, any and all differences.

Can you remember, dancing after the music stopped? If only this could be true in marriages. Where the music has already stopped.

A Postscript:

I purposely did not answer the question; "Am I lonely? Do I feel lonely?" I have partially answered this in the "Question and Answers" article, elsewhere on the site. Let me repeat, there is a vast difference between loneliness and aloneness. Both loneliness and aloneness are conditioned by a particular posturing, brought about by many influences that set the stage for a particular posture to take place. If we can learn to become aware of the influences that bring on the state of "loneliness", as to how it structures itself and further perpetuates itself. Then we have a possibility to move towards a state of "aloneness". And I would quickly add that this is not a static state. Aloneness is a freedom, a flowing freedom from attachments. Those attachments that limit and bind one to that, or those subtle influences and conditioning that captures and envelops ones mind, heart and spirit.

The companion word of aloneness, is solitude. Both aloneness and solitude are not to be misconstrued as a form of isolation. On the contrary, they affirm, and allow a unity with" all and everything". The isolation of a person is self-induced, as an out growth of anxieties, fear, worry, and misgiving about oneself. The psychological imbalanced or inharmonious person isolates themselves. They build their own wall around themselves, shutting out the world, as it is. While at the same time creating their own fantasy world, in which they live. As we have said repeatedly; they create and structure their own reality. Much the same way, that people create their god, in their own image. Out of their fragmented thinking. Let's put a comma here.

Later, we will talk more about this aloneness and solitude. In connection with meditation and insight.

 

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