They say “sex sells,” but I disagree.
If I want to peddle something, it makes little sense to go the skimpy bikini route. Instead, I find myself a wholesome couple – conventionally attractive, yet relatable and normal. I then throw them into an impossible situation and wedge my product/service in there somehow. The scientific formula for the ad would be:
Quagmire + my product/service = violins playing as the couple walks off into the sunset, fingers, and hearts entwined. Ah, they’re soulmates!
Sex sells, but the idea of true love sells more. Because over years and decades, we have hyped love up to be this pristine trophy — glittering, elusive, and only attainable by a few. The harder it is to find a soulmate, the more wondrous we deem it. Wars are fought over wronged love, entire countries burned down, and generations of poets make bank writing about the sadness of it all. In the world of today, scores of books and courses exist. All designed to find us that special someone — the Romeo to our Juliet, the Katniss to our Peeta.
And every one of them says: “You can only have one soulmate! Just the one! Ideally, your spouse/romantic partner will have to be everything. They must be an excellent listener, a devoted companion, and a loyal friend. If they can whip up a delicious meal while anticipating your every need, all the better. After all, they’re your only soulmate – basically, the sun, the moon, and stars of your existence! Dems the rules and don’t make us repeat, you sad, lonely loser! Loosen the wallet, call us and find your one true love! All for the low, low price of your sanity and $$$ (tax not included).”
So yeah, sex sells, and love sells. But dreamy-soulmate-made-in-heaven-just-for-you sells even more! And not going to lie, it’s hard to resist the siren song. I mean, who wants to be alone at 40 and eat TV dinners, right?
Well, I disagree with the entire concept. I disagree very much. Because love is common. It comes, it goes, and it touches every one of us. And when it touches us, it leaves us with a soulmate. Children are the best example of this.
My daughter frequently falls in love. She whispers, “I love you,” to me, her dad, and a gaggle of educators and friends. Sure, she loves some of us more than others, but she loves us all with the same sincerity. Last week, one of her favorite friends moved. This friend and my daughter bonded over a lot of similar interests, and so on Friday, Reya made her an ecard with a voice note attached. “Goodbye Hazel,” the message sang with the faintest hint of a tremor. “You were the best friend ever, and we had so much fun together! I love you so much, and I will miss you!!” Now, Reya wasn’t faking her feelings or being dramatic — at that moment, on that day, her adoration was very vast and honest. It was as authentic as any love can be, and I’m sure, when Hazel opened her ecard, she felt it too. They were in each other’s lives for a brief spell, but for that short stint, they were soulmates.
Now, who doesn’t enjoy an excellent novel or song? We all love authors whose books strike a chord in us. Poets who write glorious verses, musicians whose songs make us weep, artists who draw with God in their hands — we cherish them all with every ounce of our being. In that little chunk of time, they give us exactly what we need and just the way we need it. And so, for that chunk of time, they become our soulmates.
Sounds kooky? Well, of course, it must. To love openly is alien to us, as a species, isn’t it? Over centuries, our bodies and psyches have evolved to protect us from every sort of hurt or sadness. We fall head over heels so often. But we’re conditioned to dole out our love in small doses. Or not at all. We’d rather be lonely and safe than go out there into the unknown. We’d rather believe in the “one true love” schtick than accept that no one person can fulfill our every need.
So yes, my spouse is my soulmate.
But so is my sister.
And so are my best friends.
I look into my dog’s large brown eyes, and the love I see there makes my knees buckle. How is she not my soul mate?
When my daughter belly-laughs with her best friend, their little brown heads bent over a comic book. They’re each others’ soulmates. My husband and son spend the day poring over subway maps and talking animatedly in their special shorthand. Soulmates.
These kindred spirits come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Some appeal to our inner child, reminding us of simpler times. Of shiny rocks and scraped knees, cotton candy, and summer air. Others share our passion and will gladly talk to us for days about motorcycles or music or obscure English literature. A few we fall in love with and marry. For better and for worse, in sickness and in health. And some soulmates don’t speak at all. Instead, they walk in the shadows we cast, thawing our sorrows with the warmth in their eyes.
We are complex beings who evolve with time. Our partner/spouse may find it exhausting to be everything, all the time, for us. Wouldn’t it be a relief if we allowed them to be human and honest, limited and flawed?
It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. I just wish we extended the same courtesy to adults.
(I dedicate this post to my many soulmates: my husband, my sister, my mom, my best friends, and countless others. You beautiful people make me the woman I am today. and will be tomorrow.)