Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Have A Man Who Looks Up . . .

Or How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways.

View as we hiked at Point Lobos in December 2011

Today I was reminded big time just how fortunate I am to be with the man I married 22 years ago. Yes, we just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary in and around Carmel, CA. And today, as we were walking along the many varied trails of Point Lobos State Park, my dear husband, looking up, spotted this beautiful tree and commented on the striking formation of the branches, “almost looking like a bird resting on top of pelican.” This was only one of many visuals that caught his eye as we hiked and which he shared with me.

Looking up and spotting a bird . . .

. . . only to find it was a fantastic, dead branch formation.

But after this particular “pointing out” I thought to myself, “I have a man who looks up” and couldn’t help but smile and then feel a little sad.

Let me explain.

I have a dear friend about my age who has been married to her husband for much less time than I. But as she tells it, he is completely smitten by her, is consistently attentive, loving, affectionate, adoring, takes very good care of her and allows her to do pretty much anything she wants when she wants to do it . . . as long as he isn’t pressed into doing it with her.

You see, they really are polar opposites. She is the ultimate social animal, thriving on being with people she enjoys, and doing things, mostly physical -things like biking, tai chi, qi gong, hiking, etc. And traveling. She loves to travel. She considers herself the ultimate adventurer. You get the picture.

Her husband, on the other hand, is a thinker and a writer and is happiest when he’s home just writing or thinking or being. He’s the ultimate introvert, happiest not going anywhere or doing anything out of the ordinary.

Oh, they do have things they share and do together – reading, cooking (and eating), watching a good movie. But she is always trying to find something they can do together which will pull him out of the house and his cocoon and into the wide, wonderful world which inspires her. So far she hasn’t been too successful in that regard.

We were having a conversation just recently and she told me, “You know, he never looks up.”  What? “No, really. When he’s walking, he always looks down. So even when we went to Yosemite, (a trip that wasn’t what she had hoped it would be for the two of them) he really didn’t. . . really couldn’t take in the grandeur of the place because he’s always looking down. We joke about it sometimes because he prides himself on finding a lot of loose change that way. Once I offered him a twenty if he’d stop looking down for a week. He didn’t take it.”

I have to tell you, this conversation really saddened me. These are two good people. I love them both. And I know they love each other deeply. I just wish they could find a way to be with each other that would satisfy each of their primal ways of being. It’s what Harville Hendrix called “stretching” in his book, “Getting the Love You Want”. In order to get the love we want from our partner, we, more often than not, will have to stretch beyond our own comfort level to meet the other, and vise versa.

It wasn’t only today, standing in front of that tree when my husband looked up and had me see the tree through his eyes which made me feel blessed to be with this man, but it’s when I think about our 22 years together – the travels we’ve made to Fiji, Africa, Italy, France, Poland, Germany, England, Mexico, Belize, the Galapagos and Ecuador, as well as all over the U. S.  and Vancouver, Canada, taking ferries, trains, planes, small motor boats, going hiking at Pt. Reyes, skiing in Austria, sleeping on down feather beds in a posh hotel in St. Moritz, or in sleeping bags out on a wooden deck in the wet Amazon jungle, spending a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC or an evening at an opera premiere at the Met, visiting friends in Wales, or making new ones in places we’d never been before and probably would never be again. It’s the shared sense of adventure that has so enriched our life together.

This is what I wish for my friend and her husband, but seems so out of reach as things are. This is what makes me realize just what I have in the man who walks through the world by my side.

And why I feel so very fortunate to have a man who looks up.

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