The End of Rose Colored Glasses (in work and romance)
No more rose colored glasses.
I can’t. It’s not that it’s what’s best and I refuse. I literally can’t. Fish can’t breath air. Humans can’t breath water.
But I can be romantic. I feel and care for others a lot, but I cannot put on the rose colored glasses so many women want, to elevate them to “the one,” to the “soul mate.” There’s a heart and hormone kind of junkie behavior I indulged in most my life. It got me married and gave me a wonderful daughter, but was also part and parcel of my divorce.
When my former business partner and I parted ways, many good friends pushed me to stick with what I knew, to find a new gig in the art world where I could expect more security, more compensation and would benefit from almost two decades of experience.
All of that sounded appealing, but I couldn’t. I had passed far beyond “burnout” to jaundice, or maybe clarity. The art world was not my place, but I had stayed there and in some ways succeeded greatly from a pure foundation of tenacity, a refusal to give up, a love for creativity and the endless energy to persevere when all odds try to crush you underfoot. Maybe sometimes that’s not the best way to go, but I wouldn’t have listened in the thick of our efforts. We had a global vision and started with solidarity.
Now I see that there are a lot of people from those years I do not miss. And there are a few I do, but they tended to be the cultural outliers, sometimes also asking themselves, “why do I put up with these people year in and year out?” My friends from the art world were the kind and considerate people. I could not re-immerse myself in the culture overall.
Through all of this one friend who has been the right balance of concerned, supportive, wise and blunt – he told me, “go back to that industry and you will stay there for the rest of your life.” I am glad I listened and struck out on the hard road of personal reinvention. And I’m lucky to have many other friends encourage me in this and to live in the SF Bay Area, possibly the most forgiving and supportive place on earth for charting a new direction. If America celebrates personal reinvention, the Bay Area transforms such stories of failure and rebirth into hagiographies, the lives of saints. Someone should start writing songs about them.
In some ways it now feels the same in romance. When I meet a woman, no matter how kind, brilliant or attractive, I immediately see a fallible and imperfect human being, just like me and everyone else I know. I cannot elevate her. I may feel strong attraction, the first sparks of emotion and I may want very much to be close and know one another better, but I cannot muster the sweeping off the feet behavior which was my habit in my 20’s. I want still the emotional vulnerability and elegant dance of reciprocal support that only couples can know, but not if it first requires rose colored glasses. Seeing another and starting a foundation in even the most joyful delusion seems a great recipe for disaster, for inevitable estrangement, for the stripping away of all filters and glasses and the diminishment it brings.
Better to start right where we are, the unadorned here and now, in the absence of grand fantasies, grocery lists or nightmares or fears. How does it feel to spend time together, just the two of us? Feels good? Perfect. Let’s do it some more and see where thi