How appropriate that my first post for this blog be on a day that honor's passionate love. Besides my lovely wife, Cathie, reading & storytelling are my other passionate loves.
This being St. Valentine's Day of 2013, let me tell you about my best friend, my girlfriend, wife, and lover. I am most fortunate and twice-blessed of all men to have found and married my dream girl.
I met her a few years back when she was 19 and I was 23. She was pregnant and engaged to one of my best friends who practically grew up in our house. I was stricken by her beauty and fell for her instantly. I made it a point to say nothing to anyone about this as I thought she was in love with my friend. As it turned out, she felt trapped in her situation and her family had pressured her to get married to the father of her baby. Understandable for 1977. (Later on I found out that she was attracted to me because I was so kind. But, said nothing because I gave no indication that I was interested in her as more than a friend.)
I was raised to be honorable and to respect everyone, especially family and friends. Even though her soon to be husband and I had fallen out of intimate friendship years earlier, I still thought of him as a brother. We both entered into marriages that were doomed from the start, which ended in divorce at about the same time. It took us another few years to find each other. It was like a fairy tale story, some say. All that matters to me is that we did... and still do.
I mentioned in my profile that one of my favorite movies right now is the classic Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." I did so because late last year, right after Christmas, I was reading a wonderful book for writers by Lisa Cron (@LisaCron on Twitter), WIRED FOR STORY - (Writer or not, please check it out if you want to understand why people are so enamored with stories, no matter which media or means brings them our way. I promise you, you won't be disappointed.) - and it changed my life. I am being serious here. I get no compensation from her book and she does not know I even exist... but, her insight led me to an epiphany for which I will be forever grateful.
Let me explain: Ms. Cron used George Bailey, the primary protagonist (hero) of this movie as an example for discovering your characters inner motivation as opposed to their outer motivation. As she explained the difference between these motivations for George Bailey, I saw a correlation to my own life.
All his life, George Bailey wanted to leave his small town and go out into the world and build grand buildings, making a name for himself. But, things just kept happening that blocked him from leaving, and he remained tied to the town working in his family business feeling like a loser, like he was losing out and his life was being drained away. He felt this way so strongly that he wished he had never been born... and, for you who know, this is the basis for the story. In the end, in the midst of a very dark moment, he had a revelation, his pivotal moment. He discovered that what he thought he wanted in life was not what he needed, and that what he had was what he had internally wanted and needed all of his life... to be unconditionally loved and respected.
I started out as a portrait painter and cartoonist. I wanted to move from Gary, Indiana where I was born and for the most part raised and make my self a name in Chicago or New York City. I wanted to be a famous artist. As things turned out, I had to help our family because of tough financial times by working in a local steel mill. I thought it was only going to be for a summer. Then, I would attend the art schools I had gotten scholarship offers from. An invitation letter from Uncle Sam via President Richard M. Nixon supplanted my plans for a few years. When I returned from the service, I found myself back in the steel mill... but, for just a summer. That summer lasted 30 years. All during that time I resented my situation. Like George, I held it within myself, most of the time. After I retired I worked as a mule in a local lumber yard until it shut down because of a greater financial downturn in the home building business in the area. I have been unable to find suitable work in the last 5 plus years. Frustrated artist that I was, I took up my second love, painting pictures in people's mind via words. This led me to Lisa's wonderful book. That allowed me to see that like George Bailey, what I thought I wanted was not what I craved inwardly in my true self. I wanted to be unconditionally loved and respected.
I have all that and more in my lovely wife, Cathie. God bless her... she loves me in spite of myself. Knowing this I can now pass from this earth a complete human being. Should I never publish another story, or get acclaim for another work of visual art or any other accolade in this life, I lack for nothing. Her love has made me whole. I tell her and everyone else proudly that next to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Cathie is the greatest blessing in my life.
I know this is a long post... and, I thank you for reading it this far.
Happy Valentine's Day everyone, and I pray you all find what I have found in my best friend, lover, and mate.