The Rapidian’s current story mapping feature is on relationships, and the part of it that I was intrigued by, the enigma of the dynamics involved that make relationships succeed or fail. What does it take to make a relationship endure? Obviously there is not a simple solution to this question. In our current day and age divorce has become a commonality. While growing up, it was almost like I was just about the only kid in my group of friends whose parents were actually still together. It seems it is all too easy to give up the fight to hold it together for many couples in our society. I myself am on my 2nd marriage.
The one thing I have learned about successful relationships, mostly through observing other couples in strongly united relationships, is that you really have to share common passions together. When I was still an unruly teenager at the precipice of a potential career in delinquency, I was lucky enough to meet Glen and Vicki Schultz. The parents of one of my high school friends, They were also seriously accomplished musicians. Glen was also a machinist for GM, and spent a lot of his time using 30 years of technical know-how in his basement workshop to create these exquisite Irish penny whistles and flutes under the name Thin Weasel, which sold for a hefty price world wide. Glen could play everything except brass instrumnents, and Vicki wasn’t far behind in her talents either. They each played in traditional folk style bands, and in raucous makeshift jam sessions at family parties. They instilled a great respect for music in their children, some of whom inherited their musical talents from Mom and Dad. This couple (and by extension this family) ate, slept, and breathed music. Music was the binding passion in Glen and Vicki’s life together. I know that they had some hard times, and even seperated for a few years in the late 90’s. But ultimately, throughout the good and the bad, what held them together for over 30 years of marriage and raising a family was the common passion for creativity. Music was their salvation.
In my own life I have been lucky to find a beautiful soul of a human being, my wife Jewly, who shares many of the same passions that I have in this life. Art, music, writing, teaching, even trying to find that balance of living a greener life in our modern society of convenience are some of the passions that we hold in common. But I would say that the main passion, the greatest binding element in our relationship would have to be food. And not just in the food itself, but in all of the facets of food. Supporting local agriculture by filming a documentary together consumed us for the whole summer of 2008. Buying organic or chemical free foods at our local farmer’s market has become our favorite weekly summer ritual. Creating new recipes using only food bought at the farmer’s market is our weekly challenge to consume the verdant treasures we score on our little expeditions. This also conveniently creates the “need” to make another trip to the farmer’s market to replenish the arsenal of produce. Discovering a new health food store, or an ethnic market like Spices of India on 28th St, for us is almost like a prospector finding “gold in them thar hills!”. Jewly’s Ethiopian dinners have been our favorite excuse to gather a bunch of friends together for an evening of fun. My love of all things Japanese has evolved into a few frenzied “Sushi Nights” where I completely trash the kitchen in my relentless pursuit of creating my signature sushi roll. So far, it is a tie between my inverted “Caterpillar” roll, and my “Sea Turtle” which utilizes the Shikai Maki technique of creating “squared” rolls that I top with my legendary Ika salad. I even add little cucumber “flippers” to make the turtle complete! Jewly always teases me about the way I devastate the kitchen, and suggests new ideas to add a little twist to my ideas.
I wish that I could say that our relationship was always this good. That my romantic view of the topic always matched the reality. It doesn’t. We have had some bad times over the course of our 3 years together. I can’t count the times that one or the other has resolved to leave. The fights, the tears, the hurtful things we have said to each other. I even spent a weekend in the county jail. One year ago today, actually. In the aftermath of all of the things that have transpired in our relationship, and in the long journey towards healing together, I have to keep my eyes on the things that bring us together. The passions we share in our lives are what brought us together. They are what keep us together, and what gives us hope for the future. Even today, whenever we have an argument over something trivial and one of us stomps off to simmer down for a few minutes, the things that make the healing a smoother transition are the shared passions we hold. One of us has to remind the other of the fun things we have together. Usually it is something silly that we did together, like Jewly making a movie of me doing something stupid and potentially embarrassing. Or how I caught the stove on fire making fried rice. Or how I failed miserably at making pancakes for her the first time I tried surprising her with breakfast in bed in the early days of our relationship.
Simply put, my advice for anyone trying to make his or her relationship work: Find your passion. Cling to it for all that you’re worth. Share it together at every single opportunity. Create opportunities to share it together, and with the rest of the world too. And maybe that way, you’ll have something to keep you afloat when the seas turn rough.