"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction." Antoine de Saint-Exupery
So that is what is the cornerstone of our successful relationship?
I like this measure! I know this is a wonderfully figuratively speaking quote, but I choose to interpret it literally.
My longtime partner and I find that our calmest moments together,the times when we communicate best, are the times in silence, that we gaze together out from the porch on the landscape that our hands and hearts have crafted together over the years. The Leucanthus blooms, circled by a ring of honeycomb limestone, were added last year after a visit from a high school friend.
Rosemary is an avid gardener in New England. I figured if she spends so much time and energy in that climate, eeking out an existence for her cactus garden and traditional English-type garden, that I should replant some of the beds that had become empty over the last several summers. We live in the sunbelt! A little water and soil amendments and it hard to go wrong. Though the list of my failed attempts at diversifying the plant population is long: lantana, Coral wreath, figvine, dogwood, lavender, crepe myrtle...my partner has success as he takes the time to check on them, water them and nurture them. My harsh attitude is- if you can survive here, "welcome, little plant!".
The landscape is tidy, rocks raked, paths cleared because of Ron. His taste tends toward formal and orderly-designed scenery. My artist's eye likes informal balance and I tend to favor a cluttered backdrop. A rusty cowbell found far afield on a caving excursion way out in the country, hangs from the gnarled live oak limb by the garden gate. At the edge of the very straight row of shrubs alongside of the porch is an angular piece of deeply colored gray basalt brought back from the panhandle of New Mexico.
Sticking out of the the raised bed where the antique roses once grew (before this summer)are hunks of fossilized wood with crystals growing and sparkling in its folds.
Everywhere- dotting the panorama from the porch, I have placed momentos from days past when I could stick a rock in my backpack and carry it out. (No National Monuments or Parks where harmed in this practice)Then I moved those darn things from house to house before I decided 24 years ago never to move again.
Having different points-of-view, especially when the view is shared together from the back porch, has led us to disagreements and compromises over the years.
I have seen frustration well-up in my partner's face, exasperated when I wanted to plant 8 new plants in two clumps of 3 and 5 plants, as opposed to lining them all up in a row on the edge of the buffalo grass.
I shrieked in disbelief when I returned home one day to see the bluebonnet meadow that was drying up and slowing turning to seed had been mowed down. What looked like weeds to him represented 15 years of husbandry to me. The field had weathered droughts and pestilence but had steadily increased its blooms each spring and summer as bluebonnets, gaillardia,coreopsis, verbena and Monarcha horsemint renewed themselves.
But once we are together side-by-side gazing outward together, there is peace. There is a tacit understanding that will never be vocalized. Our communication often goes awry when it involves speaking, listening and processing deeply.
Ron takes my words very literally. Sometimes, when he repeats back what I have just said and he interprets the meaning literally, and gives his response based on that, I giggle, then howl and begin to laugh out loud hysterically. He is right. The phrase I used might be commonly recognized as an expression, but in his eyes, I understand it sounds ridiculous.
I used to think his sense of humor was "corny". I realize now, he sees words in their literal sense and I can share the joke with him. I am beginning to be able to join him in his solitary gaze outward.