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Letting go

Can we ever really just be ourselves?

I love those little unexpected moments that hit from time to time.  There I was sitting alone in front of a ridiculously large salt beef on rye (with horseradish and a gherkin obviously!) and a glass of Pimm’s. I had spent the afternoon in the West End and was having a well earned break from the bustle and the heat. To my right three very cute young men, late twenties, sat down with their coffees and began a conversation. I want to clarify that I was minding my own business.

The conversation they had was about girls…. I didn’t hear everything but got the gist. It was, in essence, very similar to the conversation some women have about men:

What do they want?

Why is it all so difficult?

Why the game playing? And sex, well… Blah, blah.

At first I smiled, with my mouth full, and then tried, with no effect, to conceal my amusement. And yes, I was sussed!!

“Did you just overhear all of that?”

“Yes, I did, but couldn’t really help it to be fair!”

“But you’re laughing – what do women want then?”

A sharp elbow into his side was delivered by his friend which clearly said ‘what are you doing, she’s a complete stranger and probably mad.’

“I’m probably not the best woman to ask as my take on this may not be typical! I think it’s important that you want the same thing out of it but that has to be communicated. I want connection, intelligence and stamina.”

“All the girls I meet want the material things. It’s about what car you drive, what job you do.”

“That doesn’t interest me, I don’t want to live with a man, and I don’t want his things.”

“What about games? My girlfriend is always testing my loyalty and it just pushes me away.”

“That is about her insecurities and her end-game which I’m guessing is marriage and children. I don’t have an end-game so there is no need for game playing.”

“I’m a dealer, my job is 100 miles an hour. I have to be a certain way at work and I have to be a certain way with my girlfriend. I’m never myself. My mother is Italian and has always been domineering. I’m just not good with women.”

Maybe in that last paragraph lies everybody’s answer. It is the wish to be ourselves, unencumbered  and undiluted that we long for. To have a relationship with another that is nurturing to our being and provides the same for our partner. It sounds so simple, maybe too simple. Instead of questioning what we get out of something, perhaps contentment should be gleaned from what we put in and how we feel about ourselves for doing a good job of that. Success, however, is only achievable with someone who has the same ethos. Looking around, it would seem people are more proficient at causing damage rather than providing enhancement to one another.

I worry about the effects of materialism and celebrity on the expectations of particularly young women. The art of being a woman will be lost and its vacuous replacement will lead to unhappiness for all.

The lovely young man in front of me seemed weighed down with disillusionment. As they got up to leave, he shook my hand and said:

“It’s been really good to meet you,”

“You too” I said “Good luck…”

Beneath the eyes that screamed ‘help me’, he smiled and then disappeared into the crowd. I returned to my sandwich aware that the inhabitants of the three tables close by, who had observed the exchange, were looking on with a sense of curiosity. I felt privileged that a stranger had been able to share with me such intimate concerns and however fleeting a connection may be, it matters.
By Three Wishes

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