Did I ever mention how I fell in love with Paris, the City of Lights…The City of Love? Yeah it’s called all this but names are just nomenclature until they mean something to you personally. And strangely Paris meant all this and a lot more to me. The moment I stepped out of the hotel room I fell in love with the city. Sitting at a little cafe outside the hotel, sipping a hot cappuccino, all I could feel was …well not just love but joy, peace and, well, freedom! Why? I really don’t know.
That very evening, after a cruise on River Seine as we went to the Eiffel Tower, I told my BFF rather matter of factly – “I love you. I love being here with you. But someday I’d like to come here with my soul mate.” That she didn’t fling me down the Eiffel Tower is to her credit. Instead she just rolled her eyes and gave me one of her exasperated yet cocky looks- “The only soul/sole mate you have is me…like it or lump it!”
Ever since that trip almost a year ago, I’ve been wondering once again about this entire construct of a “soul mate” that we all, especially the women, yearn for. Is there anything remotely like that? If yes, is it only for a lucky, chosen few? And if there isn’t anything like a soul mate, do we in fact waste our lives hankering after a mirage?
My wise teacher, who regularly surfaces to give me a fresh perspective on life, had said long ago – Love is over rated, fidelity more so. Freshly reeling under the magic of DDLJ, she had sounded like a Prophet of Doom and the voice of cynicism rather than of sanity. Strangely it was her words that rang in my ears on that cool night on Eiffel Tower as we looked at the beautiful city of Paris spread out like a map below. It was at this uber romantic place that Tom Cruise had proposed to his lady love Katie Holmes I believe. For the rich and the famous, proposals at the Eiffel Tower are pretty much a cliché! And so are divorces – How that fairy tale ended we all know.
And that once again brings me back to my “soul mate” question. Is there really another soul out there, our other half that you are meant to be with? And while it takes you a few lifetimes to find that particular one, you blunder along the way with others…is that how it is? Or is this yet another “construct” of the human mind? Another attempt to put the onus of one’s happiness on someone else? While the desire for companionship is perfectly understandable, what I fail to understand is why we end up handing the key to our lives, as it were, to someone else. Why do we become a de facto puppet in someone else’s hands? Before this is written off as some kind of a feminist rant, my question is addressed to all the men as well who pine away for their lady love’s approval. Why do we homosapiens, the most intelligent of all species, do this to ourselves?
After being shocked by “Love and fidelity are overrated” at the age of 20, today at 40 I’m finally convinced of it. In fact I’d say everything in life is overrated…everything except self-love. Self-love not of the narcissistic, egotistical selfish kind but a love and respect for one’s own life and self. The attention we shower on another, often bordering on the stifling, what if we were to show the same love, respect and concern for ourselves? Wouldn’t we make better lovers, companions, and in fact better human beings if we could show such kindness and consideration to ourselves? Instead of being so very critical of yourselves, your bodies, your roles in family and society, your achievements and failures, how about just loving yourself as you are? No doubt you aren’t perfect, but you are YOU…and that is something no one else can be. And well, if you can’t love yourself, no one else can.
So it is, that after almost a year of my love affair with Paris, the joie de vivre I experienced there, is beginning to make sense. After a life time of fighting with myself, rejecting myself, being over critical of myself and my failures, deprecating myself, I had finally started falling in love with myself, with my life. Am I perfect? Am I sorted in the head so to speak? Far from it. But I am me. And I am my soul mate- something no one else can be. Yes the promise to go back to a magical evening on Eiffel Tower with my soul mate stays, only that the soul mate is much nearer than I could ever think and the love affair has just begun!