Yesterday I had the most marvelous visit with a college friend I met 50 years ago! She ended up in Maine, me in San Francisco and what with being at opposite ends of the country, we probably saw each other on the average of once every five or ten years, with no correspondence or phone calls in-between. Yet as happens with some people that you have a deep soul connection with, two minutes into our next visit felt like simply the next moment after the last visit, whether two or ten years earlier. Why is that?
We spent some four hours together this afternoon, along with her wife who I had met maybe three or four times and all three of us were in some zone together, with the conversation flowing effortlessly and as refreshing as a cool spring in the mountains. Whether it was sharing funny stories from college days, catching up on news (“So, what have you been doing these last ten years?”) or just returning to the kind of humorous banter and profound observations that we’ve always had, I was buoyant with the sense of being wholly known, that ebullient freedom of being wholly yourself, no need to impress, no need to explain.
Truth be told, I’ve felt some of the same these past two weeks with my granddaughter Zadie, that sense of me just being happy in her presence and her being happy in mine. That is, until Demon Zadie rises up explosively and unexpectedly and I have to be the stern adult and she gets to be the tantrum-throwing child. Not easy for me to not take it personally and feel betrayed (“But we were having so much fun! What are you doing?!"), but a good spiritual exercise for me, helped by the mantra “She’s 10. She’s 10. She’s 10. I’m 70.”
Our culture is obsessed with finding one’s true love, one’s soul mate, all of it condensed into one romantic relationship, but the fact of the matter is that these soul connections can be made anywhere with anyone when the chemistry is right. No jealousy or exclusivity, doesn't matter if it's two or twenty people. A chemistry that is wholly mysterious, inexplicable, unattainable by reading books about relationships, something that simply is or is not. And if you have the good fortune to cross paths with these people who just make you feel wholly yourself and happy just be being in their physical presence, regardless of circumstance or what is said or what you’re doing, well, isn’t that a blessing?
They may live halfway across the world (as many of my “soulmates” do) or come from decades ago and re-appear only occasionally, if at all, but when the two of you meet in the realm of soul, time and place don’t exist in their normal states. You don’t “work on the relationship” or get better over time, you simply are in a state of grace whenever you have the good fortune to meet.
Soul chemistry is real, is a rare gift, not to be clung to, but certainly to be savored. The opposite is also real, those people who make you feel small or unseen or unhappy just by being within your orbit. Stay away from one, find ways to keep crossing paths with the other and do what you can with all the other relationships in-between, with their gradations of connections and disconnections that require attention and work.
Maine is a long way off, but I’m determined to find my way there to keep the engine running. It helps remind me who I like to be. And who are those people in your life?