Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 23:29:54 -0500 (EST)
From: Maya Seligman
To: Justin Hall
Subject: the big decision
my name is maya. this entry of justin's online diary isn't written by him this time. that's unique. have you ever seen this kinda setup before?
i was sittin there reading the CS21 textbook when i saw justin standin there talkin to some computer sci swatties. i'm always happy to see him (giving me a sweet little natural high). i sit there looking at him, and my mind goes through natural associations. i think of his girlfriend, amy. i wonder if i'll ever get to meet amy. egg. i'm curious to see her.
"hey justin, will i ever get to meet amy?" i ask him.
"probabably," he says. "why do you wanna meet her?"
i tell him that she sounds interesting, and that i wanna see how she compares to my impressions of her that i've gotten from his perspective (web page portrayal). i wonder if it's all a warped slant?
hmmm. justin sits down. amy's been on his mind. he explains to me that he's suddenly been struck with a different mindset about their whole relationship. now that he's gotten to swat, their relationship returns to the long-distance type; whereas during other similar times in the past he was worried ("uh-oh, now i'm missing a piece of myself"), this time he seemed to lack the intensity of that previous thought-process. the initial (1st year) urgency of their relationship has seemed to worn off. now he's facing the reality of long-term choices: after graduation, then what? live together? share a house? have babies? how long will it last?
he asked wilson what to do. wilson had spent a couple days with her, hanging out in the group situation, getting to have some personal interactions with her. when justin asked wilson this question recently, here at swat, wilson replied that yeah sure, she's pretty and smart and interesting and nice, but that, in his opinion, she isn't quite "special" enough for justin. when justin heard that, he realized that he kinda has had that same thought about his brother's girlfriend and even about his mother's husband. so is it natural that you sacrifice a piece of your possibly-special self when you find the right person for you?
THE BIG DECISION
he sees it as a big choice staring him in the face. does he want to continue with the commmittment, or because it now feels different, does he wanna make a change? the possibility of cutting things off (to a certain degree, or at least pausing it) has crept into his mind.
"do i think? do i feel? do i allow new feelings to arise?... i've been thinking too much," he says. the mind can cause too much confusion. he questions whether or not he should really be having to make this decision at all. maybe he could just go with the flow of life and let it happen without having to make a logical choice onto one particular path.
i can relate to this dilemma. it pulls me right back to last week, when i felt like i was facing one of the most intense decisions of my life. it can feel so fucking heavy and overwhelming. i was trying to decide (at the very last minute, only 2 days before my scheduled plane trip back to swat) whether i wanted to take a leave of absence to go "tramping" around new zealand with noli and then explore that area of the world for the following month or two. the idea had suddenly popped into my mind as a real choice, and somehow i felt like fate was pulling me in that direction. bob gross and myrt westphal had given me thumbs up, waiving the $1000 fee normally charged for last minute decisions like this one. i had a fantasy of abandoning academics for a few months in order to hike through some of the most beautiful trails and beaches of the world. i could go take risks and find myself, maybe even getting a job on a sailboat. i could have adventures in bora-bora, bali, australia. it was a tough decision. i talked to everyone i could, trying to glean insights and different perspectives onto the situation. sometimes it felt like my brain was making it too messy, bringing too many variables into play (money, time, logistics, graduating, plane tickets, independence, fear, etc.). i saw two paths into my future. both looked divine. how do i know? i stopped and tried to ignore all the variables and mind-chatter; i wanted to tap into my inner guidance, find a channel to a higher place that would lead me to the real answer. it was hard. i realized that part of me felt drawn to the secure choice (swat), since the other would be much riskier. but i know that sometimes the path onto shaky ground, even if it has risks, can be the most rewarding and valuable, with the most room for growth. so i tried to ignore the pull towards comfort. i listened to my intuition, and somehow it helped me make what i'd like to think was the right choice (if there is such thing). swat suddenly popped up as the stronger path. i'm now happy to be here, full of enthusiasm for what i've been doing here, never regretting the decision i made.
that's what justin seems to be faced with. a decision. how will he decide? he wondered. he DID talk to ann landers when he went to a bulls basketball game with her; the famous advisor hypothesized that they'd continue to fool around and then amy would get pregnant. yikes. (when he told me about that, i vaguely recalled a previous time that justin had thought about what it would be like to have babies with amy. what would their little kids be like?) what were other possible ways to shed light on the choice? i ching, friends, mental variables, drinking, finding the answer within himself? i suggested he listen to his dreams, thinking about what they may reveal when he wakes up tomorrow morning.
i remember mimi telling me about how she makes big decisions: she writes each on a piece of paper and then puts them in a hat. then she tells herself that she's going to pick one and absolutely go with it. when she tunes into her instincts right before her hand draws the slip of paper, she almost always feels her gut lurch a certain way right, hoping that she'll pick one in particular, which reveals what she should really do. or, if she doesn't find herself having a reaction, she'll just pick one of the choices and go with it, trusting fate. i think it works, but unfortunately, justin's decision isn't quite as simple. it's not like he only has 2 choices in black and white. i guess there could be a number of subtle in-between things for him do.
hearing him talk about relationships made me realize how many different attitudes are out there. i told him about an article i read once in the utne reader. it was about marriage, arguing that a true marriage is made up of two people becoming one, sacrificing their individuality by making the necessary compromises. the author (who had been married for decades), said that this mindset was necessary, as a bridge of cooperation and communion to transport two people together to a higher place of awareness and understanding in their lifetimes.
then i thought about the type of marriages i had seen in italy. business
deals. the wife and husband are merely working out a deal to optimize the basics of day-to-day life: someone to work and make the money, and someone to stay at home and take care of the kids. almost 95% of italian married men have affairs. i didn't see much spiritual connections going on, although i'm sure coming from an outside limited perspective. my host parents, jacqueline and andrea, have been married 30-something years, after facing a constant stream of obstacles. yet their relationship was also pretty open -- in a deceptive way -- as he had his mistresses, and he hit on me (claiming that i'd be "leaving my body's perfume between the bed sheets when i left," as he patted me on the
butt and kissed my cheek). while it may not necessarily be true for them, i think by choosing to work with the obstacles and not give up (senza divorce or splits), the problems can act as beneficial building blocks to bring relationships to new levels. it adds a fluidity. can't relationships get too stale if they aren't allowed to change? dips and peaks. that's part of life. stick it out. yet how can anyone be committed to just one person when they're so young? even if you find your soul mate, is it best for you not to have relationships with other people? why does our culture assume that monogamy is the only way to go?
questions galore. tough call. i like justin cuz he cares about the things that are going on in his life. enough to pull himself in the right direction. i know that it'll all work out for him. this little seed of questioning was planted in his head for a reason.