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Social Beings

For several years my father repeated to me, particularly during my many days of singlehood, that “we are social beings”.

Initially his words occurred as just something parents say like “pick up your socks” and “chew with your mouth closed”.

After a few more years passed it rang as some kind of poetic gesture to life, some ideal.

And then even more years later when I decided to make a go at living with another human being who was also my boyfriend I found my father’s words bouncing around in my head, “we’re social beings”. For the first time in all the years I became interested in what the hell my father meant.

I figured he meant that despite ourselves we need people, we need contact. Even at the most miserable of times, when my partner and I have argued, I drive home from work excited. When he travels I miss him.

Living with someone has taught me several things – there’s a second part to my father’s saying that he left out: we’re social beings but it’s not a walk in the park.

Being in love has sometimes  resembled like having my heart  operated on. I often think of Paul  Simon when he sings “…losing  love is like a window in your  heart. Everybody knows you’re  blown apart.”

Don’t be mistaken there’s all the  good stuff (and I do mean  really  good!) but that seems  overdone. Almost no one wants to talk about the hard parts. Are we ashamed? Is the pressure for perfection/happiness/romantic love so oppressive as to stop us from owning up to being social beings, yes, but human after all.

Ultimately I am grateful for many things. I am grateful for this strange but simple equation, the more I am with him the better I know myself. Which reminds me of another of my father’s gems, paraphrasing – happiness is transient, adventure a much more worthy prize to seek for. This time I’m paying attention.

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