Friday, September 19, 2008

On Love

One of the most difficult things that I have had to face since I started this journey has been the realization that, at least for the foreseeable future, I cannot be in love. I just can’t. I'm in a place in my life where being in love would be selfish, impractical, and, dare I say, decidedly confusing.

You see, my dear reader, I, like you, long for the security of comfortable silences. I yearn to feel the familiar warmth of someone's body next to my pillow. Most of all, I crave a certain indescribable connection of body, mind and spirit with someone who instinctively understands me. Ultimately, I want to be able to tell myself: "Jack, this woman was made for you. And you were made for her. Now live your life together simply, justly, and happily."




As much as I may want love I have no choice but to push it aside. There are just too many things in the way.

AM I GOOD ENOUGH?

The hard truth is that I've been so independent for so long that I just don't think I even remember how to be a good partner. There have been way too many late nights at bars, too many parties, too many women to count. Temptation, of all stripes, has been my friend for so long that, at times, it feels as if it is the only thing I know.

Only recently have I started to work my way out of this maze. And there is the rub. I just don’t know how long it will take me to get out. About the only thing I know is that I will occasionally stumble along the way. And that is not a good foundation for love.


LOGISTICS SUCK

The reality is that I just don’t know where I will end up next year. I have a couple of ideas floating around in my head, biding their time until the practicalities of the Plan are resolved. But I just don’t see how I can get close to anyone when I don’t even know where this journey will be taking me.

THE AWKWARDNESS OF VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY

Embracing simplicity can fundamentally rearrange the contours of the dating world. At least for me. I can just picture my Match.com profile:

“Hi, my name is Jack. I’m an ivy-league educated lawyer working at a big time law firm here in DC. I earn a great salary and live in a fantastic townhouse. I enjoy traveling, wine, and gourmet food. In fact, I’ve been to most of the best restaurants in DC and NYC. And let’s not forget that I’ve traveled extensively in Europe, North Africa, North and South America. Believe me, if you take me home to meet your parents they are going to LOVE me. They are going to take one look at me and they will see a multimillion dollar house in the suburbs, 2.3 grandkids, a couple of Mercedes, several trust funds, etc…

But just so you know, over the next year or so I plan on (1) getting rid of my possessions; (2) getting rid of my townhouse; (3) quitting my very lucrative job; and (4) embracing a simple life. I hope to hear from you soon.”


IN THE END
My journey thus far has been an exhilarating, at times painful, mostly joyful experience. In the end, I just hope that this process can add meaning to my life and that it brings me the clarity and the certainty to love someone simply and completely. We shall see.

35 comments:

Jennifer F. said...

It sounds like you're on the right track to find peace within yourself before you jump into dating life. They say that you can't love someone else unconditionally until you can love yourself unconditionally, and I believe that's true.

Also, for what it's worth, I think your plan will probably end up leading you to your soul mate. I instantly developed a huge crush on my husband when he told me that he left Prestigious Manhattan Law Firm after finally getting into the M&A group -- walking away from a *huge* salary that had potential to double over the next few years -- because he wanted to actually live life instead of being a slave to the corporate world. I think there are a lot of women out there who would be incredibly impressed with your plan.

-jd said...

Jack,

I was at once very much like you...minus the lucrative job. However, I walked a very similar path...I decided I wanted simple, I started to want to hang out by myself, spend quiet nights with friends instead of bar-hopping in pursuit of booze and women. I didn't want love, I didn't want commitment, even after I settled down...I wasn't ready

Don't worry about being a good partner, when you love someone, you want to do things for them, things to make their life easier, things so you can spend more time together. It comes naturally (I get Dana's brush every damn night!!!)

And, then a friend from my life came to the forefront and we became inseperable and we now travel a journey of making our lives more simple together.

You'll find love when you are ready. It just comes to you...stop worrying about it and you'll find it.

Don't worry, with a simple life you'll find it. Acutally, it will find you.

Shirley - Choosing Voluntary Simplicity said...

Jack, try to remember that the major changes you're making are going to take time. Right now I think you're seeing your situation as all or nothing. It's true that you won't have the high-paying job... probably not as fancy a house, as many possessions, or as much money... by the time you reach your goal. But you will have a comfortable home, the material things you need, and more importantly, you will have lost that aching emptiness and sense of desperation you describe. Anyone who would be attracted to you only because of all the external pluses you have now wouldn't make you happy long-term. But as you achieve the kind of life you're working toward, you will discover that the changes you are making will automatically attract people who think and feel the same way you do. You WILL find that someone... just let yourself be who you really are, keep working toward your ideal, and everything else will fall into place.

P.S.: Thanks for being such a regular commenter on my blog!

Heather's Moving Castle said...

Thanks for making me appreciate my simple life with my husband and kids. It is not always perfect but it is not lonely. Enjoy the silence. I have a feeling you will find your soul mate and have a few little pals one day! Speed up that retirement, will ya? I can't wait to see what great adventures you will have!

~Heather

Carolyn said...

I like the ad......it is always better to be truthfull.Who knows you may find a girl that is craving the simple life and you can complete your journey together.

Carolyn
http://thebarberbunch.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Cheer up, lad. Soon we're all going to be living the simple life. The selection pool will widen untold...

Just make sure you go fishing in the deep end, i.e. among the lasses who are facing adversity with wit and grace.

cheers
Otepoti

Miles To Go Before I Sleep...... said...

Hmmm....

I agree with the other comments... it'll find you if you stop looking for it. Just do what you intend on doing with life....

And John didnt mention this in his comment but I had to laugh at the Match.com ad....

Being as it's where WE met! (He says it was a coffe shop... because we actually "met" for the first time at one... but we came to know each other via match.com)

Neither one of us were looking for anything more then 1 thing: we wanted someone to hang out with.... a friend... someone to ponder life with.... and I'll be damned... it kind of jumped up and bit both of us in the ass! :-)

So.... have fun being simple but if someone comes along that makes you want to be a better person, always remember, there's no reason to rush anything... friends are great for that and when the time comes for more... you'll know...

Hugs,
Dana

Fifty-One-Fifty said...

Jack,

Believe it or not, I'm a cynical bitch, but I believe in the power of love.

So, I think your blog entry is all wrong, as much as I love to disagree with you :-)

Your partner will survive the changes in your life, or she isn't right for you. She will be accepting of your past history, or she isn't right for you.

Now, I'm going back to read the rest of the entry.

Jack, love doesn't wait. Please remember that.

Fifty-One-Fifty said...

Okay, read the rest of the entry.

And I still have a crush on you.

:::sigh:::

Life is so rough for me.

Jerry Critter said...

Beware, Jack. Life cannot always be controlled. Love may jump up and bit you in the ass when you least expect it! It often happens when you are not looking.

Jade of the Jungle said...

Crikey mate, saddest post yet! I think you're thinking too much - matters of the heart just are what they are. It doesn't actually get more simple than that, that's the beauty of it.

(One day when you're blogging away about being loved up, remind me to say I told you so....)

J

Sharon J said...

I'm with the others. Love just jumps up and smacks you in the face when you least expect it. If you feel it happening, why not just let it? I'm pretty sure fate brings us together with the people we're supposed to meet at each stage of our lives.

Jack said...

Jennifer,

I think what you said is so true. You have to figure things out internally before you are able to take care of anyone else.

And, hey, if it worked for you spread the word with your girlfriends! :)

JD,

ditto. Yeah, I sort of get that. It's definitely a common theme with these comments: love just happens and its hard to plan it and when I'm ready it will just happen. Let's see how true that is!

Shirley,

Thanks for the comment. Again, i tend to think your blog is the best resource for vol simpl out there. Not to mention all the yummy stuff you have.

Jack said...

Heather,

Thanks for the comment. And yes, enjoying the silence for now. It's all good.

Carolyn,

Thanks! Nothing like tongue in cheek stuff to brighten up a post! If I ever get on match.com I will post my real profile for sure!

Anonymous,

Appreciate your comment. Will do, though I will need to get to the pool first. Will let you know.

Jack said...

Miles to go,

That is hilarious! But, yes, that is how things start, with just hanging out with a friend.

Fifty,

And I have a crush on your writing...

Jerry,

Yeah, I think instinctively know that. But right now would not be a good time. But you are right, you can never control that.

Jack said...

Jade,

Is this post really 'sad'? Seriously, maybe i'm in a funk without even knowing. Bottom line is that its probably not a good time to get serious with anyone. Specially you! :)

Sharon,

Yeah, I know. But, again, its not as if the possibility of love hasn't presented itself lately. It's just that I would be terrible at it at the moment. Better to wait a bit.

donna said...

god jack after writing such an honest heartfelt post you'll have women tripping over themselves to be with you.
the right person will come along at the right time for you both i'm certain, so although you want to concentrate on sorting out yourself and your life right now remain open to the possibility of finding the right woman, you need to be giving off the right vibes. don't say i can't be with someone until i've done x/ y z, you might miss a wonderful opportunity.

Amanda said...

When you do decide you are ready to be open to love, and if that decision involves internet dating, you're probably more likely to find someone compatible with your new life path on greensingles.com than you are on the other sites. :)

Katrina said...

Hey,

How are you? I am just catching up with your blog now because I have been sick the last two weeks. The crazy weather changes got to me.

I can see why you need to be alone.It does help you face yourself and get you out of the comfort zone. Keep strong. I know it is hard especially when you don't have alot of people in your life who understand, but you have all your online support friends. Also, it is often when we are alone when we reach life's true meanings. I think that is why philosophers think alone and people meditate.

721sandwiches said...

Jack!
Boo... hoo?
Are you kidding me?
C'mon man.

Jill said...

Hi Jack ...

I've read up on your journey. Intriguing and inspiring, to say the least! It's notable that you are not willing to just let things happen, but that you are doing everything you need to to make them happen as quickly and smoothly as possible. You won't be a lazy man when you are free! And I agree that it's tough not to seek out a companion to share such a major life change with you. Best not to go looking when you are making major perspective shifts within yourself, but as others have said, if you come across her in the meantime, you'll know it.

::::wifemothermaniac:::: said...

I think you will meet all kinds of different women as you embark into this other way of living and spend your time doing other things. I bet romance will find you when you least expect it, with someone unlike anyone you've ever typically been attracted to.

I also love that ad though :)

Jack said...

Donna,

I think you are right, although, in all honesty, it would not be fair to anyone that I might meet to drop off the 'right' vibes. I won't be a good partner for some time. its fine; nothing wrong with taking a break for a bit.

Amanda,

You comment made me laugh! Actually went to the site. No joke! Well, if I ever think about internet dating I will keep it in mind.

Katrina,

I was wondering what was up with you. Hope you are feeling better. Thanks for the support.

Jack said...

721,

Dude, what can I say. I'm in serious transition. It would be kind of nice to figure life out with a great partner once I'm out. Enough said.

BTW, love how the nice site is coming along.

Jill,

Thanks for the kind words. Not ashamed to say that I've been hooked on your site all week. Found it through the NPR journal on your bike race earlier this year. I'm a bike commuter all about taking it to the next level. Can't wait to hear more. You are AWESOME!

Wife,

Yeah, that's definitely a common theme throughout these comments. I think that's right. But, honestly, I will probably give out the unavailable vibe for some time to come. NO way I would be a good guy to date right about now.

Anonymous said...

you're a creepy douche

nea said...

your blog could be the ultimate in internet dating. you are laying it all out there. some woman is probably drooling over you already! (no, not me...happily hooked here, but i'm just saying...your future lifestyle appeals to some woman, like me, far more than your current lifestyle!)

Jonna (aka mom) said...

It's humorous the way you say that, the hypothetical singles ad... now if you had a streak of mischief in you (like me), you'd put it on a dating site just for the fun of it.

Daizy said...

I like your fake profile. It would set you apart from the usual sports/career/fast car profiles. I tried internet dating a short time ago and said my hobbies were paying off my mortgage so I could ditch my job and living on cactus and wild rabbit to save money. I got quite a few positive responses.

I never did understand why people got married then never saw each other because they were too busy advancing in their careers and making more money. Seems lonely to me.

Jack said...

Nea,

Well, any drooling women out there interesting in vol simpl, downshifting etc feel free to email me directly! ;P

Jonna,

No way! That would actually cost money that i could use to meet my savings goal further. I would prefer meeting women face to face anyways. But yeah, it would be super funny!

Daizy,

Thanks! I guess the next step is to put it up in some internet dating site just to see what happens.

Kerry said...

FYI... I like the idea of a man giving up everything for something that he truly believes in much more than a man who has everything and doesn't necessarilly do anything good with it. Money is not everything. Any woman who is with you for what you have is not with you for who you are.

Simplicity rules over greed anyday.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Miss Scorpio said...

Jack, I've made my way over to this post at your recommendation. I think it's wise to wait, unless that someone just happens to pop into your life as Jerry mentions. However, I would recommend proceeding with caution. Women can be fickle and will find your journey and ultimately you simply irresistible. Make sure to bend the rules only for one you can trust and believe will be there for you...the real you.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm new reading here and I found your site on the comments on Cage Free Family. I know exactly what you mean in this post. I would like to be in love, but the timing is just not wonderful. Like you I work in Corp America, but do not find it fulfilling and would like to live a much simpler life. How do you tell someone that you are talking to? It's this weird oxymoron of a transition. At least you have a plan in place which is awesome. Good Luck with your journey and I will definitely be following it online.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed with your choices at this point in your life. I, too, am a lawyer 41, in the midst of my own life crisis. I have my own firm in the SE and do well. I have two great kids, great house, great car, divorced from a lawyer who is decent dad but lives far away and pays no child support (my choice). So although I am where you are in mind, my life doesn't afford me the luxury of choice and life changes at least not for the time being. Be selfish, find yourself and just be while you still can. Good luck on your journey!

Anonymous said...

Hey. I am a female public interest attorney.(Read: public interest salary.) It is not the be all end all. Of course not. Income is helpful with pesky student loans. I try to brainstorm new income ideas all the time. But never, never from some person. Really, who did you want to attract in the old days? With your previous profile? (I know it was pretend-the life that accompanied it.) What you were was sorta creepy. What you are doing now? It's hot. I don't have a crush on you. Just want you to walk around, for a minute or two anyway, feeling that you are one hot ticket BECAUSE of what you have chosen. Wish more would make your choice.

maggie said...

It is amazing to me how many lawyers are on the path to voluntary simplicity. I've had fleeing fantasies for years, and I am finally doing it. I am moving to a new state, going to be renting a little apartment with my 4 year old son, plan on starting yoga, starting to take better care of myself, starting to pay more attention to my feelings, and I am hopeful for the future. Thank you for creating this forum.