I sleep tonight in my Grandpa’s house. I try to stay here when I’m in town because I don’t like the idea of him in a big empty house alone. Though, he would never consider himself entirely alone here – and neither do I.
When I stay with him, we share dinner and tea, and more tea, until the evening begins to slip away into reminiscing about years past, and the harder things in life – loss of your partner after decades of life together. Inevitably there are some heart wrenching discussions, often tears, and for me an ever-present reminder of what it really means to share a life together – to commit to each other until parted by death. I know it’s pretty heavy. But, life is heavy sometimes. For my Grandpa, life is heavy a lot lately.
Tonight I asked him if he and my Grandma were soul mates, because I always think of them that way. But, when I asked he laughed! “What does that even mean?” he exclaimed!
It seemed an odd reaction. I guess I just assumed that after 64 years together and a spiritual connection that continues today, that he would not shy away from the term. But, he laughed at me! And, I had to take a bit of a step back and laugh too. I can’t tell you what I mean when I ask if they were soul mates. What are soul mates anyway?
So, I googled this question – as you do. I came across a host of conflicting and confusing answers. And, I guess that makes sense. We are all just dumb humans trying to share pieces of our unique experiences as general wisdom. And, so it’s logical that there isn’t a clear definition of a soul mate available on the world wide web. But, it never hurts to at least have a look.
So to add to the general wisdom or lack thereof here’s my take:
There’s a part of me that will always believe in the concept of a soul mate as a visceral connection between two people – something that can’t be described in words and which can’t be replicated. When you’re with a soul mate, the rest of the world falls away. It’s a powerful and life-altering level of connection with another human being. I might even go as far as saying that it’s as if two souls are walking the same path and share a deep, unspoken empathy for the personal challenges and desires of the other because they are the same.
But that said, the above description only goes so far to describe partnerships for life like what my grandparents shared. Deeply connected or not, when two people commit to accepting and working with each other to make a life together there is an intrinsic level of soul connection. There exists, perhaps, in these partnerships, a stronger arc of compassion for the differences that exist between two people and a more broad acceptance of variations in personal nature and outlook. The relationship is more about acceptance and love than pure visceral connection. Perhaps these are the more sustainable versions of soul mates over the long term.
I don’t think one is better than the other, and I think they both truly are soul mates.
Despite his laughing off my question, I think what my Grandpa and Grandma shared surely achieves the definition of the latter, if not also the former. Perhaps they didn’t feel each day of their lives spiritually connected and drawn to each other (or maybe they did), but the reality is that they stuck it out and worked with each other’s flaws and imperfections day to day, to make the best they could of life as a partnership.
This is a concept that I have considered often over the last several years, and I so wonder at other people’s interpretations of it. Why, as a concept, do soul mates even exist? Why do we feel the necessity of defining particular connections as uniquely important? What purpose does this serve?
Me and my love are headed to Colombia for a month starting tomorrow. I will write more on soul mates there, with Marquez guiding my thoughts on the subject.