Much that I sought I could not find. So begins a four-line poem, a favorite of mine, penned by Lee Wilson Dodd. It was one of 100 quotations beautifully written out by hand, given to me by a girl, Bonnie, who loved me more than I loved her, each quotation to be read a day at a time during my last 100 days in the Army. That little book she generously filled has been lost, but the words were not forgotten, nor has she been forgotten by me.
Truly, much that we seek, we do not find. Sometimes that leaves us better off than we realize. Usually we are left disappointed. “That’s life,” we say. We move on, move forward.
Much that I found I could not bind. We fall in love, but that person wants someone else. We get a certain job, but it does not work out. Children, if we have them, leave, as they should, and we miss them. Fame, if we have it, is fleeting, sic transit gloria mundi. Wealth may not last, riches to rags being almost as common as rags to riches. Death brings this life to an end.
Much that I bound I could not free. Friends, lovers, children must not be held too close, too tightly, for their good and for ours. They need “room to breathe,” opportunities to grow and change without our interference. If your and your partner’s mutual interests change, you must not insist on continuing to do them together. Marrying someone not quite right for you does neither of you a favor.
Much that I freed returned to me. Having had the courage to let go, we may experience the joy of re-uniting. My love of fifty years, wife of our past twenty-nine, Tina Su, married me twenty years after Tina and I had parted, in hopes that each would find a loving union that lacked the complications of an interracial marriage. Together at last, we know that finding what was lost is almost as wonderful as never having lost it.
Four other long-remembered lines of poetry [by Khalil Gibran, in The Prophet] were among those in sweet Bonnie’s hand-written gift to me. These words consoled me back then frequently, and, I hope, consoled Bonnie, too:
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
Dr. Cooper is a retired scientist, now a writer, author and writing coach. His first book, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, was published by Outskirts Press in 2011 and is available from Outskirts Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, in paperback and ebook formats, as are his co-authored memoirs The Shield of Gold and Ava Gardner‘s Daughter? His writer-coaching web site is http://writeyourbookwithme.com.