I decided to take this week off from podcasting (back next week, fear not) so that I could put together a silly little video for my true love (and wife) Catherine. The video is for a song I wrote for her and recorded almost twenty years ago, when she was at a different, also-difficult point in her life.
It can be very hard to watch someone you love, struggle with their response to new challenges. We can easily be tempted to try to use emotional pressure to make them do whatever we think (hope?) will best solve their dilemma.
But no matter how much you love someone, you cannot ever be the captain for their central life-quest – it has to come from them, in order to really work. (there’s more about this idea, in my book Structural Happiness)
Thing is, even if we can’t actually steer, and shouldn’t press (adding stress) – what we spouses really can do when our loved ones are facing a daunting challenge, is support, encourage, nourish, affirm, hug, kiss, challenge, stimulate, assist and cooperate.
Faithful sidekick is a good, practical and honourable role – and one which challenges and enables our partner to rise to their best, and also relieves us of the emotional burden of solving a thing which we, by definition, cannot.
It’s not easy, but it is complete and robust in a way that reservations and secrets do not allow. We’ve always been that way – all-in – each doing our best to be a steady and reliable Sancho Panza for the other’s Quixote – no matter what sort of challenges have presented, by the hour, the year or the decade.
Still can’t imagine any other way to do it – or any other, I could do it with.
I’m also still very pleased about the basic message of the song:
Yes, it’s a bit of a tough patch – but we’re in it together, so it’s the best tough-patch in the world.
A small note about the images for the video. I have been taking much sharper photographs recently, but each of the images in this video is of a place which meant a lot to us. Sometimes a grand adventure, sometimes just a really great day. Plenty of memorable animal friends, too.
I wasn’t sure whether the images would have any resonance for others, until I realized that these snippets of warmth are exactly the common elements of every long-arc relationship – and that their specificity itself had a universality to it. In potentia, at any rate – I’ll let you judge the results yourself.
Cheers my friends – sincerely hope you enjoy it
PS – my sincere apologies to guitar players everywhere, (I just didn’t happen to have one of you handy).
PPS – I wrote this tune soon after taking up the bass (this is a P-Bass copy), and Bass is a truly wonderful instrumental perspective to write songs from. Unfortunately, there are physical demands and adaptations required, also – and as so often in the past, my enthusiasm FAR outstripped my acclimation. On this recording, every finger had a band-aid protecting a friction blister. Calluses began soon after.