Peaceable Man Files #31: When Life Give You Second Chances
The big news in my world of late is that after fifteen years as a single man and father, I’m getting married again.
That’s right, in case you haven’t heard, I took the plunge and recently proposed to my girlfriend of eight years—and she said yes! Rachael and I plan to tie the knot sometime over the next year.
The idea that I’d be planning my own wedding at the advanced age of sixty-three is so surreal that I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it. After all, it was thirty-three years ago this month that I walked down the aisle for what I thought would be the first and only time.
I remember that day in May 1990 as if it was yesterday: how bright blue the sky was, not a cloud in the sky, spring in full bloom. The future—our future—was an open book, full of hope and possibility.
Here I am, more than three decades later, once again a groom-to-be, and while I don’t quite have the same spring in my step that I had then, my heart feels every bit as full as it did on that day so many years ago. I know Rachael, having also been married before, feels that way as well. We don’t have all the years ahead of us that we had at the time of our first weddings, but if fortune is kind, we will have a chance to create something special with the time we do have together.
Life, I’ve found through experience, doesn’t offer us do-overs. But if we don’t allow ourselves to grow angry and cynical with all the crap life tends to throw our way, we do sometimes get second chances.
I know because I’ve been given one.
The thing about second chances is that, like miracles, they only happen if we stay open to the possibility that they could happen, and happen in ways we don’t expect. For a long time, I was not open to that possibility. I was bloodied and battered from a bitter custody battle that had relegated me to seeing my kids only every other weekend. It had been a stinging loss on top of all the others.
Marriage, and the whole legal process, had not been kind to me. Why would I want to crawl back into that confining, airless box? Peace was all I wanted at this stage of my life. Peace of mind, peace of circumstances, just plain peace, and if that meant being single for the rest of my life, then so be it.
I would date, yes, and if I was lucky, maybe I would find a companion to share my life with, someone who would accept me for all my faults, just as I would accept hers. But marriage? No way. I’d been there, done that. There was no need to do it again.
That was the story I told myself and others for fifteen years, and I told it consistently.
What happened to change my mind?
Well, a lot of things happened, all of them necessary to move me out of my self-imposed exile.
I learned things about myself that I didn’t know when I was thirty—about what I truly wanted and needed, as well as what I didn’t want and need. Learning what we don’t want is one of the best ways to figure out what we do want in life. Through experience, we come to know what doesn’t work for us and we seek the opposite.
I became more comfortable with the idea of bringing someone new into my children’s lives. My relationships with my three sons are precious to me and I didn’t want to do anything to damage those relationships.
I got tired of the dating scene. Yes, dating is exciting at first, but after a while, it becomes a merry-go-round leading to nowhere. I yearned for something deeper and more meaningful.
I opened my heart and mind to the possibility of meeting someone special. Then, and only then, did the miracle happen.
Now, let me just say that I’m a very rational person. I don’t hold much truck in astrology, seances, palm reading, miraculous healings, the occult, or anything else that isn’t grounded in evidence.
But I do believe in the power of the human spirit, never seen but always felt, to raise us from the ashes of adversity and defeat. I also believe in the Law of Attraction—the universal law that we attract into our sphere that which aligns with the thoughts and energies we put out there. Put out negative energies and we’ll get negative results. Put out positive energies and we’ll get positive results.
The Law of Attraction says that the more precise we are in stating what we want, the more likely it is that we’ll get it. So one night about nine years ago, I was lying in bed, weary of dating, wishing for a deeper connection, and I put out my wish list to the universe.
I was very specific about it: I wanted someone with dark hair, a bright smile, and a big heart; someone who was optimistic and on the spiritual path like me; someone who was fit and took good care of herself. Perhaps a yoga teacher, I remember thinking that night.
Not long after I put out that wish list, I met Rachael—at a bar, of all places! I knew Rachael was on the path when I mentioned I’d recently read A Course in Miracles and her eyes lit up. She had read it too.
She had dark brown hair. A big smile. She loved to dance, loved fitness and the outdoors. And guess what—she was a trained yoga teacher!
I quickly came to see what a big heart Rachael has, not to mention a sunny outlook on life. Despite all she’s been through—and she’s been through a lot—she has maintained her glass-half-full attitude, which has brought her back from the abyss of separation and divorce.
After that, it was a matter of getting to know each other better and finding a way to mesh our families. Bringing together two sets of kids, dogs, households, and histories is a delicate matter that, in my view, is best not rushed. Rushing things brings drama, and neither one of us wanted that.
It took eight years, in all, for this ripening process to happen. The last ingredient was for me to get over my hangups about the legal aspects of marriage. Why get married? my rational mind kept saying. Why not go on, as so many divorced people do, in a committed but unmarried relationship?
While there’s nothing wrong with that, I found, over time, that I wanted more. There is something profound and powerful in the marriage ceremony, in the sharing of rings and vows and all it symbolizes.
There was something else, too. I really wanted to be able to call this beautiful soul my wife and not just my partner.
Soon, I will be able to.
Yes, life does give us second chances. I’m going to make the most of the one that I’ve been given.