Trail Blazer Ministries
Base Camp for Life: A Spiritual Journey...

A Michelangelo in Embryo

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.

There is a scenario in Socrates life that speaks directly to me. What if....

Xantippe and Socrates had settled down and lived in a cottage with a vine growing over the portico, and two rows of hollyhocks leading from the front gate to the door; a pathway of coal-ashes lined off with broken crockery, and inside the house all sweet, clean and tidy; Socrates earning six drachmas a day carving marble, with double pay for overtime, and he handing the pay-envelope over to her each Saturday night, keeping out just enough for tobacco, and she putting a tidy sum in the Ægean Savings-Bank every month—why, what then?

Well, that would have been an end of Socrates. [1]

I'm not claiming to be the next Socrates or Michelangelo by any stretch of the imagination. But I lay down at night and full symphonies nurse me to sleep, (all original) I paint pictures with my cello as I navigate through chord progressions, it's within me. My fear in marriage is that I am "tamed." I am not longer a great artist in embryo, but a respectable man and future father.

You see, I just resigned my membership at my current church. I have to take a break. I can no longer feel right about taking communion, proclaiming vows of prayer, reciting creeds and all feels boxed in. I will miss playing music in the church, I will miss the community; but will not miss the "closed hand" issues we all recite.

My wife and I just met our pastor for counseling, I respect him and his way of handling people. The only bone I had to pick with him was a certain statement. "Would you give up cello playing for your wife?" Okay...hold on!! Take a paintbrush away from the painter, a pen away from the poet, an instrument away from the musician and it's akin to taking the voice away from an effective communicator, the legs from an athlete, or the sense of taste and smell from a cook. I play music for a living, I know I'm not world-class; but I have aspirations. If you rip out my dreams, I am just a dried, shriveled-up shell of what I am or hope to become.

Success Magazine put out a great article. [2]
In the excerpt below, the author lists 10 question that must be answered yes too.

Are You Ready to Put Your Dream to the Test?
OK, you may be saying to yourself, I’ve got a dream. I think it’s worth pursuing. Now what? How can I know that my odds are good for achieving it? That brings us to these questions:

  1. The Ownership Question: Is my dream really my dream?
  2. The Clarity Question: Do I clearly see my dream?
  3. The Reality Question: Am I depending on factors within my control to achieve my dream?
  4. The Passion Question: Does my dream compel me to follow it?
  5. The Pathway Question: Do I have a strategy to reach my dream?
  6. The People Question: Have I included the people I need to realize my dream?
  7. The Cost Question: Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?
  8. The Tenacity Question: Am I moving closer to my dream?
  9. The Fulfillment Question: Does working toward my dream bring satisfaction?
  10. The Significance Question: Does my dream benefit others?
This is the struggle for an artist: we may hurt people along the way, the ones close to us. We pay the price to achieve our goals and are willing to fail.

Now, this is where I need help. I told someone recently I am a "ship tossed in the ocean." I love my wife dearly, and she admitted to me after the counseling session she is willing to explore other philosophies, change aspects of her life so we can find this "emotional connection" that has long been absent. I appreciate that, and we our best friends; I find her easy to talk to, great to do activities with, but often I find music to be my way of communication feelings of love, joy and internal struggle. In fact, I'm a terrible communicator through the medium of speech; if I could just play a musical soundtrack of my day I'd be much happier. My wife could ask, "how was your day," and I could sit down and play some rhythmic tracks exploring my underlying emotions then live-loop some melodic motifs describing conversations I had during the day then finally adding some harmony to fill in some of the complexity I experienced. Maybe I should do that one day and put it on my youtube channel. Now I have to meet my pastor later this week and "decide" to give my wife 100% or...I should divorce. I could write another post on how divorce effects the community in the negative and how I may end up. Like Socrates, I married for "discipline." It's so I could control my sex drive, it's so I could "settle down" and create art within that marriage, it's because I love her...

1. "Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Philosophers" by Elbert Hubbard

2. "What is your Dream" by John C. Maxwell - Success Magazine


I don't feel I know you well enough to offer too much of a comment. I would just advise you to explore things with your wife and take it slowly. It sounds as if you both want to work on the marriage and that is the most important thing when it comes to making a marriage work.

My thoughts are with you.

Marriage is an identity marker, and to be sure it can serve as a kind of a hedge in our construction of self. The stark choice described by the pastor is so such, however, if it's a choice your wife is presenting to you. If she wants you to be more emotionally available, and agrees that the only way to secure that is for you to sacrifice some of your dreams, then yes, you have a choice. Otherwise, there's a lot of wiggle room.

Marriage is not rocket science, and it's not magic. It's just work -- very rewarding work, to be sure. If you or your wife think it should be a emotionally stimulating a romantic comedy, you need to lay off the drugs. (Now, of course you'll tell yourself, and tell me, that this is not the case -- but I'm suggesting you probe some of your unspoken expectations to see if maybe, just maybe, they've been colonized by pop culture. If you're not turned off by adult language, read the first essay in Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.)

I'd suggest the same take-no-prisoners approach to your "dream." You're a musician. Great (me too -- my master's is in composition). You have some talent. Awesome. You're actually getting paid. Double awesome. You'd like it to go somewhere. Definitely. This is all very reasonable.

So let me be blunt. Stop getting the telos of your life from Success magazine and don't listen to people who use the word "Irrefutable" in their book titles.

Work hard. Practice. Explore those symphonies in your head. Be present and available to the opportunities that come your way. At the same time, be present an available to your wife. Make her an ally in your aspirations to be a better musician.

Is it possible those things could come into conflict? Of course. But don't narrate them that way unless you have a good reason to do so, and especially be wary of using that as a way of avoiding the fact that there's tension in your marriage because sometimes you're an asshole. I'm guessing, of course. But I'm not wrong. :)

Ah...I just around to publishing your comments. They are much appreciated. Brian, your advice is great; but it's really complicated. It's been about a month since I wrote this post; and of course I love my wife; but somehow I've lost any attraction toward her. This concerns me; this (non) feeling. It's been this way for awhile, but recently a lot less.
Ted, I am honored to have you as a friend; at least online for now. Yeah, I used to be a sucker for "Motivational Speakers." Success is just really igniting passion and turning it into motivation, no matter what the obstacle. And yes, I am an asshole. I will seek secular counseling because my marriage is on the brink, I'm afraid of hurting people. But that's inevitable, because I exist.

Thanks, Jesse. It's true that we inevitably hurt people (even when we're trying not to; sometimes, tragically, our very efforts to not hurt people end up hurting them). What I'm trying to suggest is that this is pretty normal, and if there's tension it need not be some sign from the gods.

As for your response to Brian, it may that your "loss of attraction" is also normal, and nothing more than the initial infatuation -- which, from an evolutionary perspective, need last only as long as it takes to make babies, which isn't that long -- has finally run its course.

I am not googly-eyed over my wife. I like my wife, and I love my wife, and we've still got it in terms of sexual chemistry (but see above; this is biology, baby). But I'm not "head over heels" like I once was, some twenty years ago. :)

For awhile I thought this was a problem. And when I met other women with whom there was a bit of a spark, I wondered if maybe I'd made the wrong choice. After I actually had an affair with one of them, it began to dawn on me: I'm chasing a specter. Sure, the next piece of ass down the line might give me a charge that I think I'm missing. And that will fade. So I'll look for the next one, and so on, until I become my dad, who is estranged from his fifth wife (my therapist, who does not mince words, said "well at least he had the decency to marry his love interests").

Anyway, the affair, and the aftermath, and the recognition that my wife was willing to fight for our marriage when I was willing to give up and chase skirts, helped to demystify the whole thing to me.

Recent Comments