Lifelines

It’s the end of the year, the end of the decade, and the end of my time in San Francisco.

The past year hasn’t been the best, with two unanticipated and unwanted life situations hurling major personal dislocation and stricken fatherly worry: my wife’s decision to end our marriage and my youngest son’s cancer diagnosis.

The past decade, and my time in California being nearly the same—I moved to San Francisco in mid-2008– has been as Life Experience goes a significant chapter.

Charles Dickens said better than I can:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

My eyes fill up with tears, I don’t know why. These were after all, in part, the best of times.

I discovered love at first sight, shot straight in the heart by Cupid’s arrow. Never before or since—maybe only once in a lifetime. Candles don’t burn brightly forever.

I made lifelong friends. I found my best friend. He will remain so.

I married a woman I loved. That she ended our marriage doesn’t take away the loveliness of the beginning.

The world of open water swimming opened up to me.

I joined the South End Rowing Club and found a new community. They, too, will remain if distantly.

My Cow Hollow men’s group has been a foundation and source of much joy. I will return.

I loved a sweet little dog. He’s gone from me, but held dear.

I created a new career in teaching, taking me to a future that hadn’t existed before.

Lifelines.

It seems remarkable that all of this happened in one decade long lifespan. Many people never experience all of this in their entire lives.

One time, to know that it’s real.
One time, to know how it feels.
That’s all.

It was an epoch of belief, it was an epoch of incredulity. I believed in love. It was real. I knew how it felt. Two different romantic loves. One might have lasted, one should have lasted. Neither did.

What if it hurts, what then?
What do we do, what do you say?
Don’t throw your lifeline away

Do I still believe in love?

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Samuel Johnson in his Dictionary of the English Language, defines love five ways:

  1. To regard with passionate affection, as that of one sex to the other.
  2. To regard with the affection of a friend.
  3. To regard with parental tenderness.
  4. To be pleased with.
  5. To regard with reverent unwillingness to offend.

I love my sons with deep parental tenderness. I have a few friends I hold close in loving affection. I love to read, to swim, to paint, to impart to my students what I’ve learned in my life. There are many I am unwilling to offend.

Do I dare risk passionate affection again? Loving commitment?

Is heartbreak too steep a price to pay? Does love always have to end, for me?

Don’t throw your lifeline away

One time, just once in my life.
Yeah one time, to know it can’t happen twice.
One shot on a clear blue sky.
One look, I see the reasons why you cared.

One chance to get back to the point where everything starts.
One chance to keep it together,
Things fall apart.

There’s a future that doesn’t yet exist for me. I can’t pull the past into that future.

So, yes, the risk is OK.

Let what life brings come.

What if we do, what now?
What do you say, how do I know?
Don’t let your lifeline go.

Don’t let your lifeline go.

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