You know the old philosophical question, "If a tree falls down in a forest and there is nobody to hear it, will it still make a sound?" I have been thinking about a form of that question as it pertains to my life and divorce.
One of things I miss about my marriage is having a witness for my life. It was comforting in some way to to have someone who is there to share what I have done, where I have been.
I know I have to be careful not to romanticize this too much, because the last few years I'm not sure how much of my life my ex-husband actually paid attention to; and if I'm to be very honest, how much I want remembered as I'm sure some events were not some of my proudest moments.
But there is something to be said about sharing your life with that one special person. Sometimes that in itself is the catapult for starting a relationship and sometimes it becomes the the glue for keeping it together. This is wonderful and great when its healthy. But sometimes I think people start relationships with the wrong person to fill that emptiness in their lives, to have a witness because need validation. Sometimes, too, people continue with relationships that otherwise aren't worth continuing because of how much they have shared in the past and a continued need to have somebody by their side as they slug it out in the present and future. How many marriages and friendships continue because of a shared history or for the need to someone there to share the present and future even if it comes without support or encouragement?
Is this "need" to have an "other" by your side something hard-wired into human beings, or something we learned along the way? Is this the basic human need for companionship or something we are told makes our life valuable? Is a life more valuable if it's not shared with others? Does it make a noise on its own?
I say yes, it does. Sort of. It depends on your definition of sharing. We share our lives in a variety of ways, we share our wisdom, we share our journey. When we humans do that, it does make life -- ours and others -- more valuable than keeping everything locked up tight.
Where it gets itchy is when we start to think our lives are less worthy because there isn't someone there every step of the way as a witness. In other words, we are led to believe our lives haven't made a noise if we do not have a life companion, If we are not part of a couple. To have someone, other than yourself say, yes that happened to you, this happened. To believe that the magical number two changes us from invisible to valuable without the realization we just added one more of the same number.
Without a doubt, having someone to stand witness to your life can make the journey sweeter and richer. I've experienced that and it is to be celebrated. Today, I have a son whom I share my a lot of my life with right now, and yes, that enhances my life. But I am acutely aware that there is an expiration date on sharing my life with my son. While I hope we remain close as he grows older, he will go out into the world and it would be unhealthy and inappropriate to expect him to share my everyday life as he does now when he's little.
So I don't have that life companion that married couples have. Does that mean my life doesn't make a sound? That is somehow is innately less valuable? Value is just the power you place on something or someone. What's important for me to realize that my life, made of precious and mundane moments, is only as valuable I make it. No one else can cherish my life more than I. And no one take take the power away from its value either without my permission.
That is my goal and challenge for the new year. To share my life with others, to be sure. But more importantly, to hear my own noise and feel it is enough that I, and I alone, hear it and bear witness to it.