Thursday, 22 February 2007

When it's time to let go and move on

The concept of bersheit or bashert, soulmates, is basic to Judaism. To find the one G-d has selected for you is the ultimate assurance of a love and compatibility. After all, G-d doesn't make mistakes.

Unfortunately, we mere mortals sometimes do. We fall in love, sometimes for reasons we can name, and sometimes without a single reason we know of. We find the partner of our dreams, and they return the feeling. And all is well with the world. We have found our true love.

But then sometimes, for reasons we may never understand, that perfect union is shattered. It may be financial hardship, a job in a distant city far from the beloved, a devastating illness, an accident, or a heartwrenching betrayal. And suddenly the entire future we expected shifts out from under us and crumbles into a dust too fine to ever be reassembled. We struggle to stay on our feet, to find something to grab onto. Clearly, it would be a good time to seek more stable ground.

The problem is, many of us don't. Or perhaps can't. We stay where we are, clinging to swaying branches and trying to regain our footing in the sand, certain that if we just find a way to stay still and look around, we'll discover a way to rebuild our lives as they once seemed to be, and all will be well.

So how to do we know when it's time to take those first hesitant steps away, and when the earthquake is only temporary? How do we separate the tests from the end? And if we move, how do we ever find the courage to let go and stand beside someone again without tethering ourselves to the nearest escape route? After the big earthquake, is it possible to love without a safety net?

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