Love and Loss

A friend of mine recently reminded me of the old saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I happen to agree with this. I can’t imagine going through life never having experienced love.

My friend said this to me to encourage me to go “out there” again. But the saying doesn’t exactly apply, because I’ve been lucky enough to have already experienced love. And I’ve been unlucky enough to have experienced loss.

I do think that for someone who has experienced love and loss, it’s still worth that risk to try again. A second chance at love is probably worth the risk of another loss.

However, I also believe at some point it makes sense to stop. Loss is always painful. And it doesn’t get any easier each time. In fact, I think it gets harder. Isn’t there a limit to how much loss one must endure in their quest for lasting love? Surely so much loss must have a deleterious effect on one’s health.

If someone has been lucky enough to have already loved ten times, but has been beaten down from ten losses, I don’t think it is true that it’s better to love an eleventh time and experience yet another excruciating loss. At that point, it’s worse to lose yet another time than to try to love again.

Let us summarize what we’ve learned so far. Better to love and lose once than not at all. Better to love a second time and lose again than to give up trying. Worse to love an eleventh time and lose yet again than to quit while you are already so far behind.

It seems that there is a magic number between two and eleven, an inflection point, where the risk of loss starts to outweigh the potential benefit of another attempt at love. Let’s say that number is five. Then the saying for that infection point would be, “It is equally as painful to experience a fifth loss as it would be pleasurable to experience love for a fifth time.” And once you pass this number, stop and choose a new hobby.

In Search of Rhonda

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Since my divorce in 2005, I’ve been on a quest to find my true life partner. My soulmate. The woman I will hopefully share the rest of my life with.

It’s almost twelve years later, and so far my quest has not been successful. I’ve met some nice women, and I’ve had several relationships, but unfortunately, there was always something that made them not work out. And, as I’ve learned, with each failed relationship comes a new loss in my life.

Losses are tough to take. As we go through life, we experience more and more losses. First we lose our grandparents. We lose pets. We lose parents. Some of us are unfortunate enough to lose siblings.

When one suffers a loss, they go through emotions that are similar to clinical depression. And, of course, there are always all five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Right now, I’m still alternating between all of the first four. I’ve had brief visits to acceptance, but those have been short glimpses that lasted less than a day.

I’ve mitigated the chances for future grief a bit by making a pact with myself never to get another pet. We always outlive our pets. Pets are certain loss. In my life, I’ve lost Skippy, Elmer, Licorice, Kihei, and Kitty. And I’ve been there to see my daughter lose Tweety Bird and Peanuts. That’s enough pet loss for a lifetime.

After each relationship ends, I always restart my quest, once I’ve finally made it to the acceptance stage and can stay there. Single friends have told me that they admire my persistence, my optimism, my tenacity.

When recent relationships have ended, I’ve gone to a playlist that I made for myself a few relationships back. I listen to it in the car. It consists of six covers of the song “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”, by various artists. My favorite is the one by Elvis Costello. One of my favorite stanzas from the song is this one:

What do you get when you give your heart?
You get it all broken up and battered
That’s what you get, a heart that’s shattered
I’ll never fall in love again

But, there is a part at the end that is hopeful and optimistic:

So for at least until tomorrow
I’ll never fall in love again

It’s saying that when I say “never” I don’t really mean never never. I might change my mind tomorrow. Or the next day. And in the past, I’ve always done that and returned to my quest.

This time I haven’t made it to that point. It seems different. This loss seems to have broken my spirit. I’ve come to the realization that if I try again it’s almost certainly going to end, as every attempt in the past has, and I’ll have to go through loss and grief once again. I can prevent that by not trying anymore. I can make a “no more relationships” pact, similar to my “no more pets” pact.

One thing that makes me happy in recent times is the poki bowl, also known as the poke bowl. When I have a poki bowl, it always puts me in a good mood, always makes me smile. Especially sweet is when I find a new poki restaurant, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality of the poki.

After yoga class, I was looking for a new place to have dinner, so I took out my phone and fired up the Yelp app. I was looking for some new fast food restaurant near the yoga place, so I could have a quick dinner before going to Trader Joe’s, down the block, for some grocery shopping. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a new poki place. I searched Mission Viejo for restaurants. And guess what was the first restaurant to come up in the search, 0.3 miles away–right across the street? Yes, a new poki place! Poke Wave! It had 154 reviews. Five full stars. Yay!

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Less than a minute later I was in Poke Wave ordering my bowl. But before I ate it, as I am wont to do, I had to take a picture of my food, check in on Facebook, and post a photo. Here is the photo for you, dear reader.

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It was even better than it looked! And I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I was eating it, one of my friends replied to my Facebook post with this question:

“Are they playing the Beach Boys in the background?”

Because Poke Wave. Get it?

On the way home, I listened to my Beach Boys playlist in the car. First “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, then “California Girls”, then “Surfin’ USA”, and finally “Help Me Rhonda”. And I realized what I need. I need a Rhonda!

Help me, Rhonda
Help, help me, Rhonda
Help me, Rhonda, yeah
Get her out of my heart