is only possible to those who are units.
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The way to
find a soul mate is to be a person with soul.
are desperate to find a soul mate, someone who responds to their deep image of
love and intimacy. They go to great lengths to meet people, and they spend
considerable time feeling achingly deprived of the joys of intimacy they
imagine. Their attitude is summed up in the frequent lament: When am
I going to find the person who is right for me?
approach to love seems to reflect the narcissism of the times. When am I
going to get what I need for my growth and my satisfaction? An alternative
would be to give all that attention either to one's own life--developing one's
talents, educating oneself in culture, and simply becoming an interesting
person--or to a needy society. This crafting of a life is a positive way
of preparing oneself for intimacy.
Fuller's essay "Woman in the Nineteenth Century," written in 1844, is
a rare example of profound feminist reflection linked to ancient Neo-platonic
teachings about the soul. Her observations apply to men as well as women,
to society as well as individuals, and to our current situation as well as
hers. She was sharply aware of the tendency to find the soul's vitality
exclusively in relationship with another, at the cost of one's own
individuality. In the same essay she wrote, "If any individual lives
too much in relations, so that he becomes a stranger to the resources of his own
nature, he falls, after a while, into a distraction or imbecility, from which he
can only be cured by a time of isolation, which gives the renovating fountains
time to rise up."
At the same
time, Margaret Fuller was capable of intense and fruitful intimacy, as in her
sometimes stormy yet always creative connection with Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Frequently I have occasion to visit the town of Groton, Massachusetts, and each
time I think about its precious citizen Margaret Fuller and recall how in many
ways she reconciled opposites in her rich and tragic life. She devoted
herself to her own education, to involvement in world politics, and to deep
reflection on the soul. She was capable of extraordinary friendship
because she was so fervently an individual moved by her passions. She was
a woman of extreme imagination and courage.
friendships and soulful relationships is the result of living one's own life
seriously and devotedly. Fuller added a more demanding condition: to
be able to live in isolation, in celibacy. "To be fit for relations
in time, souls, whether of man or woman, must be able to do without them in the
spirit." A moment alone, the experience of being solitary, the
spirit of celibacy--these, too, can be delicious to the person seeking a vital
life, and they may be important elements in the establishing of a marriage or a
friendship. They are part of the quest for a soul mate because first
of all one must have a soul.
capacity for solitude is a prerequisite for intimacy with another.
Otherwise, it may well be that the desperate search for a partner is merely the
expression of personal emptiness, and if that is the case, any relationship will
be founded on weak grounds and will not satisfy the yearning for
connection. The expression soul mate can mean a partnership in
which the soul is engaged, in which one's own soul connects with
another's. This is no small thing, and it reaches far deeper than the
resolution of any superficial search for romance. Part of what we long for
in our wish for a soul mate is intimacy with and the expression of our own soul.
essay in Original
Self, by Thomas Moore
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