3 years, 8 months, and 5 days. Don’t judge (others). Do judge (yourself).

https://blauearth.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/eat-pray-love.jpg?w=611&h=464

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“Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert reveals she is in love with her terminally ill best friend,” http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/celebrity/celebrity-news/eat-pray-love-author-elizabeth-gilbert-reveals-she-is-in-love-with-her-terminallyill-best-friend-20160908-grbkkt.html.

“Opposites attract,” http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/opposites-attract-20150209-13a0c8.html.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I hope you are enjoying your first week of school, and making friends.  Shosh, making friends always came easy for you.  I love that about you, and I hope that hadn’t changed.  Being easy going and knowing how to put people at ease are gifts, Shosh.  Nurture those gifts.  They will serve you well.

Jaialai, you were always slower and more cautious about getting close to people.  There is nothing wrong with that.  You have fewer relationships, but more meaningful ones.  That is a beautiful thing.  But, what I love best about you is that you have an unshakable sense of self.  I recall how in pre-school, you told friends you watched My Little Pony, and kids joshed you about watching a “girl” show.  Without missing a beat, you explained that the show has cool zombie ponies and other ponies that are cool, and that it didn’t matter what the kids say.  Next thing you know, many of the boys started watching My Little Pony as well.  Good of you to stand your ground!

I was up into the wee hours of the morning reading and thinking about the above stories.  Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favorite authors.  She’s thoughtful, insightful, and well-read.  And, her writing is simply beautiful.  I love her phrasing.  She writes with clarity and certainty about her beliefs.  I don’t always agree, but I respect an like the way she expresses herself.

That said, she can be a bit self-indulgent.  Some of her haters on Facebook complained about her gallivanting around the world to find herself while they struggled with life, illness, lack of finance, etc.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  In fact, the ones who expressed those thoughts conveyed more about their lack of creativity and passion than anything else.  For example, a Japanese man once embarked on a 10 year bike trip around the world with $2 in his pocket.  http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/2011/09/08/update-man-bikes-around-the-world-with-2-in-pocket/.  Yes, where there is a will, there is a way.

What I mean is that, in my opinion, there is more to life then the endless pursuit of one’s personal happiness.  There is commitment to your spouse.  She once promised Michael Cooper (1994 – 2002) and Jose Nunes (2007 – 2016) to “have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.”  Then, to the extent she has any relationship with Jose’s children by his first wife (Elizabeth Lowrie, 1982 – 1996), there is that commitment to her step-children.  http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/eat-pray-loves-elizabeth-gilbert-rebuked-by-exwife-turned-author-elizabeth-lowrie-20150327-1m7vt9.html.

Let me be clear.  I am a divorcee and am in no position to judge Ms. Gilbert.  For the sake of you children, I was willing to withstand the shame of having my “wife”, who I supported fully (both her and specific members of her extended family) during the bountiful years I worked as a lawyer and/or consultant, treated me like dirt and relegated me to a second class citizen in my own home when I lost my job as a whistle-blower, telling me nothing in the house was mine because she worked and paid for everything (during that period) while I was unemployed (and unemployable as a whistle-blower).  However, that changed the moment the arguments between your mother and I turned nasty and mean.  I would not allow you boys to witness and grow up thinking that is a normal relationship between a man and a woman.  No, I needed you to bear witness to loving relationships so that one day you can find your own such relationship.  Relationships are hard enough as they are without going into them handicapped.

My point here is not to judge Ms. Gilbert.  If anything, I think she has chosen a more difficult path for herself.  Liver cancer is a painful and certain death.  That she chose to publicly announced her romantic love for a same-sex best friend dying of cancer is a testament to her strength and her conviction.  I wish her and her friend only the best.

That said, for purposes of my life lessons to you boys, while I value strength and standing by your conviction, I want you to temper that with the need to stand by your commitment even — no, especially — when you do not feel like it.  Our desires and emotions change with the wind.  One day, chocolate and udon are your besties.  The next, it’s guava jam and crusty bread.  If we allow our lives to be dictated by our whims, we would be no better than beasts of burden.

Be better.  Hold yourself to a higher standard.  Once you have given your word and commitment, stick with it … until a greater and higher level interest intervene and require a different path.  For me, my commitment to my spouse (your mother) was over-ridden by the need for you boys to bear witness to a warm and loving relationship between a man and his wife, not the poison that was our marriage after I lost my high-paying job.

Don’t judge others.  But, judge yourself.  Be the best you.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., I like this article about the stability and low divorce rates of arranged marriages, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-behind-behavior/201511/why-are-so-many-indian-arranged-marriages-successful.  No, I’m not saying get into an arranged marriage.  I am saying try to find someone of similar family background and value — someone who loves you deeply and who is willing to put your happiness before hers (and you do likewise) — and stand by your commitment to her despite all the temptations life throws at you.

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