Trying to Take My Own Advice

Dearest Rachel –

I’m sure by now that you’ve noticed a lot of my letters to you seem a little bit disjointed and disorganized. They do tend to bounce around from thought to thought within the alleged confines of the topic I’ve decided to cover in the letter (and even then sometimes it’s hard to stay on topic). Part of that is because I’m dictating, and I find myself having to say whatever comes into my head as it does, or else it’ll disappear.

Other times it’s because I start a topic, but then something comes up in my life that’s more time-sensitive. You know, something that would start off with “yesterday/the day before/last week thus and such happened. And I feel that I have to get those stories out to while they’re fresh, while it’s still yesterday/last week/last whatever. Then, when it’s a ‘slow news day’ for me, I can return to my less time-sensitive and more philosophical topics at my relative leisure. But this means that part of the letter is written on one day, another part is written on another day, and there may be more additions made later over time. So I wind up with a mental state that’s not necessarily consistent throughout the entire course of the writing, and it probably shows.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, this is one of those more philosophical rather than newsworthy letters. So you’ll have to forgive me for its meandering tone.

Back in the days when I was still thinking of creating a YouTube channel, one of the ideas I had was an advice channel for teens and twenty somethings. Not that I would claim to have all the answers, but I could at least share the fact that “Hey, I got this far and survived – and you can, too! Here’s how I did it!”

The trouble is, I’d left my teenage in twenty something problems so far behind, that I had forgotten what they were like. I had forgotten how big those problems seemed to be when they made up your entire life. And I’d especially forgotten how impatient we as humans are; we want our solutions, and we want them right now.

And when I say ‘we,’ I mean ‘I.’ So, now that I’m stuck having to take the advice that I was about to dish out to the younger generation, I’m realizing just how difficult it would’ve been for them to accept it – because it’s so hard for me to follow my own advice.

As a specific (and fairly obvious) example, there’s the question of looking for a girlfriend. The thing is, I remember classmates and dorm mates who would pursue girls in general – and sometimes a girl in particular – when it was clear to everybody (except him) that he was not getting any traction. Desperation is not a good look for anyone seeking romance. The true secret for finding love is to to come to terms with the possibility that you won’t, and be okay with that. Go ahead and be friends with members of the opposite sex, sure – but don’t expect anything more from them. Ever.

Obviously, this sounds counterintuitive. But of course, it worked on you. Part of the reason why is that you felt safe around me. And that was because I didn’t try anything with you; because I had no expectations that anything would ever come of our friendship beyond just that – friendship. I’ll admit it sounds defeatist and fatalistic – but I could personally vouch for its effectiveness.

One of the things that made it easier back then, however, was the fact that I wasn’t aware of what exactly I was missing. There are certain things in life that we never get to taste (One can only do so much in the limited time we have on this earth; we can’t get everywhere, do everything, eat everything) and so we don’t necessarily feel like we’ve missed out on anything, because we have no idea what it might’ve been like. But now, things are different. I’ve been there. I’ve tasted what it was like, and like Oliver Twist, I find myself pleading “please, may I have some more?”

And it’s not just the obvious parts of such a relationship. Sleeping with someone sometimes means just that: the fact that, when I wake up, you were there. Even if you were asleep, and would remain so for the next couple of hours yet. The fact that you were there – in the mornings, and the evenings – was a comforting and reassuring thing, a constant in my life that desperately needed such constants.

And now, without that constant, I find myself adrift. I am in need of a rock to anchor to. And while some might tell me I should anchor myself to God or Jesus instead, and not be concerned with trying to find a human partner yet again (as though I was seeking to win the lottery a second time), it is always so much more easily said than done. Yes, I can talk to Him at any time. Yes, He have written His responses to me as well – assuming I know what to look for, and where. But it’s still not the same as walking alongside another person, a peer, a flesh and blood human who you can care for, and cares for you back. Someone you can introduce to the things you enjoy, and who can introduce you in turn to their own likes and desires. Someone to keep you accountable in your daily life, and who you can keep accountable in theirs. Eve was taken from Adam’s rib, so that they would walk side-by-side. It’s a different dynamic than that between God and man. And it’s one I want to experience again.

I find my own advice now trite and condescending – and any young man who had turned to me and said something along the lines of “you don’t know what you’re talking about, old man” would be well justified in his ire.

I probably have made things worse, too, I making it a goal to find this theoretical girl, and giving her a name – however improbable a name it may be. Any female I befriend is colored with the looming question in the back of my mind, “Could she be…?” thus running the risk of ruining both that possibility and the potential friendship. By reaching inappropriately for what I might consider the greater prize, I would lose out on both the relationship and the friendship.

All of which brings me back to the wisdom of resigning myself to a single man’s fate. Assuming that nothing will ever happen, and accepting that as a possibility. If nothing else, it would ruin my own credibility if I refused to take my own advice, now, wouldn’t it?

But to the young man who would follow it, you have my respect and admiration, because I realize just how difficult it is. Good luck to you.

Wish me luck, as well, honey.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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