For some, the search for a ready-made soul mate is a lifelong, usually unfulfilled journey. When we think of a soul mate, we tend to envision a person who enters our life, rids it of flaws, perfects us indirectly, gives us everything we need, and sets our future into fantastical motion. Sounds egotistical, doesn’t it? To labor under the delusion that there is one being in the entire universe who will complete us … that until we unite with this one person, we will remain incomplete and miserable. That nothing we do in our lives matters until we meet, mark, and marry our soul mate. Is life not completely saturated with pressure as it is? Now the pressure is on to single-handedly find one person—a nameless, faceless stranger—on this massive planet out of billions upon billions upon billions. Our life, happiness, and success depend on it. Now, that’s pressure. And to think … we get stressed trying to meet deadlines, pay bills, and prevent our kids from “looking” at each other. A global search for a nonexistent fairy tale should be a piece of cake … shouldn’t it? Why do we feel that we’re incomplete in the first place? And why does the fear of remaining incomplete scare us into hoping our other half is roaming the world in search of us as well? Will our need to feel grossly over-important ever cease? Will our quest for something bigger and better never end? Maybe the term “soul mate” needs further examining. Perhaps a “mateover.”
The term “soul mates” has been defined many ways. The dictionary defines it as “two people who share a deep affinity with one another … such as a husband, wife, lover … two people who are compatible with each other in disposition, point of view, or sensitivity.” Webster seems lacking, does it not? As long as two people are similar and in love, they can be soul mates? Uh…no. How exactly does “soul” factor into that equation? It doesn’t. Webster is simply describing a suitable mate … but soul mate? No.
Soul mate tends to suggest a more mythical background. At least this is the idea movies, romance literature, and legends have bestowed upon us. Greek philosopher Plato’s definition seems a more excitingly tasty pill to swallow than Webster’s, but one of gargantuan size nonetheless … at least for me. Plato theorized that our soul must split in two before birth in order to indulge in the earthly experience … a male and female soul … that we represent only half of our soul and spend our lifetime searching for our other half. Once we find that half, we become whole and find peace and happiness. But until we find that missing half, we’re an empty shell … void of …well, life. This definition definitely brings “soul” into the equation, but abandons all sense of practicality. Imagine if this were true … that our other half is roaming the earth somewhere and we must find him/her to achieve true love and happiness. We spend our days toiling away at our half-souled existence while our twin soul could be proposing to someone else in a quaint corner of a small bistro in Paris. He could be struggling to survive life in the crime-ridden streets of some forgotten country. He could be training a child in the ways of holding a gun and mindlessly murdering a stranger in Africa. He could be reading a paper on a subway in Japan. He could be scooping elephant poop in an Indian circus. Or, he could be in the restroom of your local McDonald’s as you order a cheeseburger, but you just miss him because you’re stuffing your face and not patrolling the john. You get my point. The odds are stacked so high against us finding one person on such an expansive planet … it’s a ridiculous notion. Take those odds and head to the casino … you’re much more likely to hit the jackpot.
If we spend our whole lives with binoculars glued to our face looking for something or someone who doesn’t exist, we may miss the one person who’s been under our nose the whole time … the one who would love us and accept us, flaws and all … the one we could be happy with if we’d stop waiting for the clouds to part, the birds to sing, and the world to suddenly make sense with every prospective spouse we meet. Reality and life are waiting. Some hopeless romantics out there choose to ignore reality and wait patiently for their soul mate to find them. But they’ll be waiting for quite a while. Their soul mate (if defined as one’s long lost twin soul who will be perfect in every way and make life a virtual utopia) owns a timeshare in a magical faraway place with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Who knows when he’ll be back this way.
Maybe we need to redefine the term soul mate and understand that we aren’t limited to only one in our lifetime. Maybe a soul mate is a person we’re lucky enough to find in our corner of the earth who is willing to love, respect, and put up with our ever-changing faces through life’s many minefields. Maybe a soul mate isn’t magically found, but created. Once we find a person who meets these criteria, we work on a building relationship … and work it WILL be. As we grow closer, we share more, we become more connected mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Our souls respect the other, love the other, and appreciate the other. With this connection, or soul mate, we’re equipped to face the world, however ugly it may get, regardless of the land mines we must dodge, overcome adversity together, and come out as twin victors, rather than twin souls. As two individual souls who’ve chosen to compliment the other and venture through this amazing journey of life; not as two souls merging into one, but as two souls dancing alongside each other and each picking up the other when he trips over his two left feet.
Our accepted version of a soul mate is one that is centuries old, unrealistic, and damaging to our expectations … as are some of our most treasured very old, very idealistic, and very romantic movies, or classics. Sooner or later, most classics will face a remake, be rethought, and reinvented as a newer version of the same story. The fairy tale of soul mates is a story as old as time. So, maybe it’s time we end the troll for that mated soul and recreate our perfect mate.