"Narrow the bed, wide the world. "
It's odd to me how loneliness works a magic in my mind. When I'm alone, as I am for a week while my husband's away, my thoughts often turn to existential questions: Why am I here? Am I happy? My thoughts make a mental exercise of wondering where I'd be if I was single and if this now narrow bed of mine was the totality of my existence.
Someone, who never married (and who at 45 was heading off on another trip to India), once told me the above quote: "Narrow the bed, wide the world." The quote then, and now, got me thinking about marriage, and how, while it offers solace and extinguishs loneliness, does narrow one's world a bit. When you're single and your bed is narrow, you're pretty much free to go wherever you please, whenever you please.
To a certain extent, marriage narrows one's world. I don't spend as much time thinking about art, science, and meaning as I once did. Now I've traded those thoughts for worries about my bank account, when we should move out of the city, and if we should have children. When I was single I dreamed about trips to exotic locations, study in marvelous, oak paneled rooms, and my generation's metaphysical longings. Nowadays my life feels like a series of re-enacted episodes to a boring sitcom.
Currently one of our single friends is living with us and I find myself often thinking about singleness vs. marriedness. I know she'd like to be married and yet I also know she wouldn't be able to travel as much if she was. She recently spent 3 weeks in South America and, while theoretically this is a trip a married couple could take, it would be fiscally irresponsible for us to do something like that now.
Yet, I don't want to shortchange being married. In spite of a perceived lack of deep philosophically considerations, I would say I have grown deeply in touch with my emotions as a result of being married. As a single person I often struggled with how to define my feelings. I walked through life never asking "how do I feel right now." And now, being married, I am much more in tune with how I feel. I think that is a result of having somebody strong to hold me when I cry. Marriage, for me, allows me to feel a little more open to being weepy at life. For me, marriage's deep, rich intimacy makes it possible to dive into those deep, piercing hurts of life, and then allow love and trust to draw them out, weep with them and then shore them up.
In the end, there isn't a clear winner or loser. Being married is just different than being single. I suppose its all just part of the journey we take in life and the milestones we touch along the way: marriage for some, a child for others, perhaps its a heart pounding trip to Machu Picchu. We're not all destined to mark all the milestones along the way, sometimes our paths skirt certain signposts and at other times we deftly reach out and touch their well-worned surface.