Single File: Walking Single File
Married or not, each of us walks single file through life's landscape, because everyone has a "single" part , our unique individuality -- separate and apart from the crowd. Yet from time to time we may travel in lockstep, two by two, when someone we like comes nearby and walks with us. Drawn by love's force, this person may stay with us a lifetime -- or not.
Lifelong partnership in a world so full of temptations and random events is rare, and so most women, even in a long marriage, will again walk single file as survivor. Divorce and widowhood are practically scripted into the female DNA. And even without wifehood, she can experience loving relatedness with several partners and still have many uncoupled phases within her lifetime.
More and more women are electing to postpone or even bypass the marriage decision, not as a choice made early in life but more and more the result of circumstances that simply occur -- and evolve into lifelong singleness. New to the world of equality, we are focusing heavily on achievement, which puts us on the vanguard of a future where women are primary people from birth, creators and achievers in their own right, less and less dependent on a husband for status.
Relating to men in friendship is enabling us to realize that a true friend would not ask us to surrender selfhood in the name of love. A man who truly regards us as a person rather than a sex object will actually invite our individuality to bloom -- the new criterion that is beginning to replace the chemical reaction exalted for so long. Physical attraction as a guide to a soul mate has been a bitter disappointment. So now, stronger in our undependence and surer of our womanly potency, we are attuning to the enormous payoff of a love partnership based on mutual enrichment. The metamorphosis we women have engendered is, happily, bringing both sexes toward reciprocal spiritual development even as we tend to our partner's nurturance.
In your own odyssey, marriage may come (and go), or it may not appear. Whether it does is for the most part up to you, because the flexibility and compromise needed to make the choice are steadily coming under your mastery. The discoveries you make about yourself in 'Single File' (the book and the column) will help you make the choice with more assurance. But marry or not, relating to partners as friend/lover or platonic buddy will most assuredly be among your future challenges. And so you will at different times in your lifespan be asked to juggle your individuality with shared togetherness -- not an easy task. But again, incorporating 'Single File' principles into your way of living -- and making them habitual through practice -- will see you grow into your own hero.
There is abundant space in your life for a partner who will enrich you in your expanded way of life. But never become distanced from your own single core. The uniqueness that is yours alone can be a lifelong ally throughout all of life's seasons. A life lived true to that selfhood will be constantly unfolding and expanding. And while you are moving into that larger self, challenge yourself to remain eager about living and firmly connected to your spirituality. Lived that way, life will have few boundaries; work and relationships will be natural outgrowths of a daily communion with your inner and outer worlds. That integration will better you and every person you meet along your journey, whether you are traveling as part of a couple or single file. I wish it for all of us.
Who has not found the heavens below
Will fail of it above.
God's residence is next to mine,
His furniture is love.
-- Emily Dickinson
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