Sooner or later
I have learned in my life the tragic, but immutable
truth that love is more than passion and conquest and beauty
M. T. Maan
January 21, 2005
As I get older, I am amazed at how some people get
so lost in the trivialities of life that they forget what is really
I guess that this shouldn't surprise me, as I too was once
one who couldn't see the forest for all the trees around
me. I hope that I am not like this anymore.
Wisdom and self-assuredness
is surely the child of maturity and experience. Now as I look back
on the first two-thirds of my life, I realize that the saddest
part of getting old is not getting old, but rather it's
the inability to go back and correct the mistakes of my youth,
or the inability to go back and correct those mistakes without
hurting innocent people. Many young people will not be able to
relate to what I am going to write about, but I pray that there
may be one or two young souls out there that will at least think
about what I have to say.
I want to tell you a story. It is a story of great hope and sad
hindsight. It is a story of supreme ignorance and glorious
enlightenment. It is a story deep sorrow and overwhelming joy.
It is a story of regret and rebirth. It is a story that has
been told thousands of times in thousands of places throughout
the history of man. It is a story of love. It is a story
of love both too late and just in time.
Some people will upon reading this call me a sentimental old fool
while others will condemn me bitterly as emotionally unfaithful.
Both are fine with me. I am writing this not for personal accolades
or acceptance by anyone, but in the sincere hope that by sharing
it that those who read it and are still young enough to avoid the
mistakes I have made, will be able to find real and lasting love
with that one special person who God made for them. Believe me
when I say, that person is out there. All you have to do to find
them is to never stop believing that you will. Just as you are
searching for them, they too are searching for you.
I am well into the last third of my life now. I spent most of my
life never really believing in love and never really knowing what
it felt like to really, completely and absolutely love another
human being. I have been married for many years to a woman that
I have never really loved, although at one time in my youth I thought
I did. Her feelings about me are no different. We have children...
some who are grown and some who are almost grown. We have
never cheated on one another. We have been loyal companions through
years who unfortunately have no common interests, no common dreams,
but two hearts full of regret.
How is it possible we got to this point in our lives? I can't
say for sure, except that we didn't really take a hard look
at one another when we were young. We only saw what we wanted to
see in the other person and we, like so many young people often
do, only looked skin deep.
No one told us when we were young, that those powerful emotions
which electrify the hearts, minds and bodies of youth deceive the
inexperienced in life into believing that love is present when
in fact it is not. Those emotions and feeling are, so often, every
bit as much a mirage as is the illusion of water in a desert. Perhaps,
only with maturity comes the ability to recognize love in it truest
and purest form, but I hope that is not the case. I hope
that there is a chance for young people to find their soul mate
before the complexities of life cause them to prematurely stop
I have learned in my life the tragic, but immutable truth that
love is more than passion and conquest and beauty. This truth is
something that many older men wish they could go back and tell
their younger selves. Love is more than just hopes and dreams and
desires for a secure and fairytale life. There are so many
lovely and beautiful ladies who've lived
lives of inner despair because they didn't know this before
it was too late. Love is something that is so rare and pure that
if one is lucky enough to find it, it is only recognized after
much searching both introspectively and outwardly.
I could be wrong, I often am about many things, but I truly
believe that love only comes around once, or perhaps, in
the case of the luckiest of the lucky, twice in a person's
life. The problem for many people like me is that we never waited
long enough to find that which we all so desperately long for in
life... that one special person whom when we find him or her,
we know absolutely that our days of searching have come to an end.
Before any young person can possibly know who and what they are
searching for, they must first know themselves. How is it possible
for any young man or young woman to recognize that special person
when they come across him or her unless they know who they are
on the inside first? How can they possibly look into the heart
of another until they have looked deeply into their own heart?
I am no expert in such matters, but a lifetime of regret and
keeping a stiff upper lip has forged in me the conviction that
possibly know another until we really know ourselves. There are
many in life, like my dear wife and I, who have lived lives
of unspoken regret and slept on tear soaked pillows night
after night, year after year because we didn't take the
time to know ourselves in youth before thinking we were wise enough
to know another person.
I have always been a very emotional man. I am not ashamed to admit
that. I could fill an ocean with the tears I have shed in my lifetime
both in joy and sadness. Qualities of kindness, tenderness, generosity,
devotion, sacrifice, humor as well as physical and emotional intimacy
are and have always been essential to my well being. As a young
man I fell into what I thought was love with a strikingly beautiful
and charming girl. I was sure that we would always be compatible.
In truth I tell you that we are not now and we never have been
compatible. I have no one to blame for this, but myself. I did
not look inside myself and assess those qualities in me that I
needed from a life's partner, before I jumped into
marriage with her. She has never had those qualities that I have
always needed in a companion. It isn't her fault though.
She is the way she is and she has never changed.
What is sad for me is that I, also, have not lived up to what she
needed in life. She has a cold, serious, and stern nature. She
has always wanted a man whose emotions were steely cold. She needed
a man who was serious in all matters. She wanted a
man who was not concerned with emotional intimacy and as little
physical intimacy as required to sustain a marriage.
Her character is quiet and reserved and cool. I have always been
the exact opposite.
She has always needed someone that I could never be. I regret the
fact that she has lived a life of silent despair because she, like
me, failed to look deeply within her own heart before she chained
herself to mine. Over the years, we have grown further and further
apart. We live in the same house, we speak to one another daily,
we smile for our children and we will live out our lives together
in emotional estrangement and incompatibility. We have become familiar
strangers over the years and this familiarity has given us both
a certain degree of comfort.
Why have we stayed together, you wonder? Those of you who come
after us in making the mistakes we have made will discover how
incredibly difficult and disquieting it is to untangle oneself
from the web of responsibilities and associations that tie one
down in a settled life. Moreover, for many people of my generation
happiness and fulfillment must always be sacrificed for honor,
loyalty and commitment.
Without the slightest doubt in my mind, I can tell you that my
wife does not love me and for my part I do not love her. With the
years we've spent together we have grown content in being
strangers. She has never been unfaithful to me, nor I to her. She
sacrificed her youth and beauty in years of emotional emptiness
with me. She did this because she felt that it was what was expected
of her. She did not complain and she never will, but that does
not mean that I have ever been the man she needed and deserved
to find before it was too late.
I will not divorce my wife unless
she herself asks for one. There is no honor in a man who through
his own youthful ignorance marries a girl he can never make happy
and then after she has given her beauty and her youth discards
her like a piece of rubbish. I cannot and will not do this. She
is after all the mother of my children and a good mother at that.
If nothing more, she has earned the right to my respect for this
reason alone. Dignity demands that I see this through to the end
and that is what I shall do.
For most of my life I believed that love did not exist. I
did not believe that a person could find his or her soul mate.
I thought that this was a bunch of overblown romantic rubbish that
had little to do with reality. I was wrong.
I rejoice in the fact
that before God took me from this world that he let me see exactly
what it was to fall in love... .real love with another person.
I also regret that while I now know that love is real, powerful,
sweet, and enduring, I am in no position to change my life for
the sake of personal happiness. For me happiness can never be
purchased at the price of dishonor. Furthermore, the person upon
whose heels came this life altering revelation, that love is alive
has her own life which I would never dream of invading.
how I came to find love... or rather how it came to find me.
It is so unbelievable in how it happened to me that I often smile
when I think of how odd it is for a man my age to find love in
such a non-traditional way.
A couple of years ago, after visiting Iran, I wrote a short article
for a travel magazine. The article was picked up and reprinted
in a couple of online travel magazines. I received a flood of email
from Iranians thanking me for taking the time to write a warm and
humorous article about Iran and the many wonderful people
I met while I was there. I soon deleted most of the emails.
There were just too many of them to respond to and they all said
basically the same thing... "thank you!"
was one email though... one that stood out amongst the others...
and now I can't explain why I was drawn to it because it was
no different than all the others I'd received, but there
was something quite magnetic about it. I wrote the person
who sent it. I could not have possibly known that by writing its
author that I was about to embark on the greatest and most revealing
odyssey of inner discovery that I had ever experienced up until
that time or that I, most likely, ever will.
Over the course of time, I would
learn just how special and precious this Iranian lady would come
to mean to me. In addition to
my wife of nearly thirty years and the hundreds of women I have
known through work and met as the wives of colleagues, I can say
without any hesitation that this one special Iranian lady, who
I have come to know so dearly, has far more grace, compassion,
tenderness and love in her small body than all of the other women
I have ever known put together.
I have grown to love this woman
more than I love life itself. If there were anyway to sacrifice
my honor to fulfill my longing for happiness I would do so, but
for me there is only one course in life and intentional dishonor
is not the path I have chosen or ever will. I am married, for better
or for worse, but I would be lying if I said that enlightenment
to love has not come without a price. Blissful ignorance shall
never again be a comfortable shelter to spare my heart from love's
joys or its pains.
Unlike every other woman I had ever met in my life from my earliest
childhood, I could not see this woman with my eyes when I first
came to know her through email. The beauty that I could not
see with my eyes, I soon sensed strongly in the sweetness of her
kind letters. I learned about her life and routines, her children
and her husband. She always wrote such lovely and tender letters
about her family.
As time went on, we wrote one another more and more and talked
about our lives, our hopes for the future, our disappointments
in life and so many, many other things. There came a point in time
after we had been writing a quite some time when I could feel inside
me a disquieting longing to meet this dear lady, but our lives
were quite different and we were far from one another.
as hard as I could to not allow myself to become too attached to
this friend from so far away, but slowly... ever so slowly... I
went from looking-forward to her emails to needing them. There
was something in the way she communicated with me that touched
a part of my heart that I never knew existed. I thought I was going
crazy feeling emotions that I had never felt before and at my age.
There was a battle raging inside me that was so alien to all my
life's experiences had equipped me to handle that I simply
bottled it up tightly inside me, never revealing to anyone that
which I knew fully, that which I knew instinctively that I had
stumbled across so late in life.
I had at a very late time in my life found that one precious person
who was able to stoke the fire of love in my heart. I am not talking
about sex or passion. Those are far more the province of young
men which I no longer am, but which I surely have always appreciated.
No, what I am talking about is a much deeper and profound feeling
of complete submission of one's senses to an emotion that
cannot be easily extinguished when it is the real thing. This lady,
so far from me and so different from me was and is the fulfillment
of all that I have ever or will ever need. We have so many common
interests and so many complimentary personality characteristics
that is amazing.
Now we are measuring our friendship in years and in the thousands
of emails whose number grows larger each and every day. We have
an unbreakable emotional bond to one another and we would do almost
anything that we could to help or comfort one another. I can honesty
say without any question in my mind that I love this woman and
if there was any way that we could avoid the disasters of personal
dishonor, I make her mine and I would worship her forever. I
would asked God to show me how to make all her days complete, satisfying
and happy and I'm sure He would because she is an angel.
She is a woman of monumental class.
I've never known anyone quite like her. I am sure that she,
too, loves me and loves me dearly. However, there is one
man that she loves more dearly than me and that is her wonderful
While over the years
I have struggled with feelings of envy and at times jealousy, I
know that she loves him absolutely. He is such a wonderful man
who I am proud to call my friend. You see, I have met her husband
and he is a richly deserving gentleman. If any man deserves this
wonderful woman more than me, it is him and him alone. He
is proud man who exudes self confidence and extends affection and
warmth to all he meets. I respect him and I respect that which
is his. I love his wife completely, but I would never think to
dishonor myself or my friendship with him to try to take what is
not mine to have. I don't know why God works the way he
does, but this wonderful man has even allowed his wife and children
to visit me at my home in London. All he ever asked of me was to
guard with my life those that he loves so dearly. I did and although
he doesn't know it... I always will if I have any ability
to do so.
I have learned many lessons in my life by attending the school
of hard-knocks. Of all of those lessons there are few which
are as important as learning to look hard before you leap in matters
of the heart. I will live out my days with a lady whom I have never
been able to make happy. I regret my shortcomings, but I simply
could never be the man she wanted me to be. She, too will live
her life with regrets. Nothing will change any of this now.
There is, however, hope for all of you who still are young and
who still have time. Love is real if you just look hard enough.
I found the one woman that I will love until God takes me from
this world. She is another man's wife. I cannot change the
way that I feel about her, but at the same time I will never compromise
my honor in seeking to fulfill my deepest desires. I will not dishonor
her and I will never dishonor her wonderful husband who trusts
me amongst all the men in the world to be close to his wife and
children. Trust and honor are two things that when thrown away
can never be recovered, so I shall hold fast to them to the end.
Perhaps, I will live long enough to see the day that I am no longer
a husband and perhaps, too my sweet angel in Iran will no longer
be a wife. If that day ever comes I will move heaven and hell to
make her mine if only in the twilight of my life. If that
day never comes then I shall always thank God for allowing me to
know that love is real and anyone can find it if they only look
hard enough. When you finally find it, accidentally stumble across
it, or if it falls from the heavens onto your head, as in my case, you
will know it. It will change the way you feel about life, about
other people and about yourself. It will be an awakening to the
deepest parts of your heart. It will be profound and you will never,
ever be the same again.
So while it is too late for me to enjoy the love
that I discovered in the autumn of life, the good and happy news
is that for all
of you who have not tied yourselves to life's obligations in
a marriage that is empty and unfulfilling, love
is out there if you will only look hard enough to find it.
Don't be in a rush. Don't confuse beauty, passion,
conquest, security, stability or hope filled dreams and fairytale
wishes with real love. None of those things can compensate
for a life of love lost because of your own poor judgment. Look
deeply into your own heart and seek out that one person who will
complete you, console you and content you for a lifetime. She or
he is out there right looking for you right now.