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People and Life

A Lesson in Love….Of the Five People I’d Want to Meet in Heaven…

…the first would be Mark Butler, who, when I was sixteen years old, was one of my earliest boyfriends. It was a short-lived, extremely innocent romance, and the reason for it ending had profoundly positive reverberations throughout my life.

Every now and again, over a beer at the Irish Pub, both Lance and I love to trawl back into the past and find the people who had the most profound influence on our thinking processes. We find this a really happy, inspiring conversation, and more importantly, it makes us grateful for the good things that we’ve experienced and the wonderful people that we’ve met in our lives. While we both realize that we all influence each other in ways that sometimes we cannot even begin to understand, we base our selection of people on the type of influence that to us is mind-blowing; it changes the way that we interact with people and it alters our view of our environment. We lifted the idea from Mitch Albom’s book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which is the story of war veteran Eddie who dies on his 83rd birthday and finds himself in the afterlife. Here, Eddie meets with five people, some strangers to him, who either influenced him, or were influenced by him. In turn, they take him through the different phases of his life, and as he travels with them and listens to what they have to tell him, he discovers that his own life, one that he had felt to be ‘uninspired’ was in actual fact, filled with meaning and purpose.

I met Mark when I was sixteen and still in Sixth Form College. He was a year older than me, had already left school and was out in the working world as a trainee electrician. He’d attended my school for many years, and I’d seen him around, but we’d never crossed paths. He was very much involved with his childhood sweetheart Julie, both of whom would often be seen canoodling on the school grounds, a couple of love-birds in their own world.

Mark and I came across each other after his best friend Chris started dating my then best friend Collette. Collette had mentioned my name at a gathering, and Mark said he remembered seeing me around when he’d been at school. He asked her to ask me if I would meet up with him. I agreed, at the same time wondering what had happened to his girlfriend Julie.

At the age of sixteen, I was filled with an inauthentic confidence that came from my new-found popularity with young men. Having lived through an abusive relationship with my parents, on the inside I was emotionally dysfunctional; I had no sense of self, little self-esteem and I felt myself to be unlovable. The events of my life had made me feel invisible; my mother always put her well-being before mine, neither of my parents ever showed me affection, and neither praised anything I did. In school, I didn’t achieve much, was unremarkable and to my own mind then, forgettable. In my early teens I was very much a loner; I suffered low-grade depression and didn’t feel I had much to offer the world.

By the time I reached sixteen, I had discovered make-up, fashion, and the power beauty has over a lot of men. I had started to go out on dates with boys my own age and attended school parties. By now, I was considered beautiful to a lot of the young men, and I liked the attention they proffered upon me. My sense of loneliness was abating as I drew considerable interest with my new-found manicured looks. Even the young women found me interesting, their curiosity based on my appearance alone. I learned that no-one expected much from a beautiful girl, and it was just as well, as I didn’t have much to offer in the intellectual sense. But I got what I’d needed for a long time. I’d never felt important before, but now, people stared at me, sought out my company, and treated me with a measure of awe that was both an enigma and a delight. As my popularity grew, so did my obsession with my looks. It was the one thing that got me attention; in school, beautiful girls had celebrity status, people talked about them, watched what they wore and were interested in their youthful banal conversation. Now that I’d achieved overnight ‘stardom’ (cosmetics are amazing, yes!) I became vigilant. I put on a daily fashion show. I walked the grounds of the school with my head held high. I was never seen with a hair out of place or a face clean of make-up.

Enter Mark. By our third date we knew we liked each other a lot; he subsequently declared that he would tell his girlfriend Julie that their relationship was over if he and I were to be exclusive. I was only too happy about this since he constantly talked about my beauty, admired my great clothes and always bragged about being with a girl that everybody stared at. I needed to hear this daily, three times an hour; it was medication for my inner dysfunction, and he provided massive doses of it. Julie was history; I felt superior to her, because he had dumped her for me. Besides, she was overweight, had stringy hair and wore ugly silver braces on her teeth. I couldn’t understand what he had seen in her. Why someone who looked the way she did had been his childhood sweetheart was a mystery as deep as the universe to me.

We were together for almost three months, and in that time Julie had hovered somewhere in the background. In the beginning, I was confident. I had the advantage in my looks. She couldn’t even begin to get close. She sometimes showed up at pubs or clubs that we visited. Sometimes she cried when she spoke to him. I impatiently wondered about her dignity. He didn’t seem to think the same, always feeling and showing compassion towards her. Mark and I had a lot of fun together. We laughed a lot, talked a lot; in short, we really enjoyed each other’s company. By the third month of our relationship, he became pensive and quiet at times. Once, when I picked up a gift that Julie had bought him during their time together, he took it from me quickly and shoved it into a drawer. I didn’t see him quite as often by this time, though when we did see each other he was just as nice as always.

One day, in school, I received a visit from Julie who informed me that she and Mark had seen each other a few times and that she felt I ought to know. She thought that Mark was struggling to let go of our friendship and that if I finished it myself, that would solve his dilemma. He liked me a lot and wasn’t sure what to do. I was somewhat surprised by her visit and new to this sort of confrontation. I told her that I would talk to Mark about it and would probably do what she asked if there was doubt in his mind.

Mark was hugely apologetic and said that he couldn’t explain what was happening. He wanted to stay around with me, but absolutely loved Julie. He could see it would be difficult to have both. He talked about their childhood love and how he felt. He kept saying how much fun he had with me and that he didn’t understand why things had to be this way. He felt swept along by a force he didn’t understand. Strangely, I got it all in an instant. He loved her. He had a soul bond with her. He was young, and had simply wanted a fling after a long relationship that had started in childhood, and I had come along. He had been entranced by my looks and had mistaken this fascination for something deeper. He didn’t love me at all. He liked me a lot, and had formed a solid friendship with me, but it didn’t go beyond that. Now that he had experienced my company, and had seen that true love was very different from infatuation, I knew that I ought to let him move on with his soul mate. Some young men like Mark, I realized, are easily distracted by beauty and sex, and it took young women like Julie and myself to encourage them to acknowledge the meaninglessness of such superficial choices.

Something was transformed in me in that last meeting with Mark. I was sad to lose someone who had become a good friend, yet I was unbelievably happy to discover that physical appearance has nothing to do with love. I learned from Mark that we are loved for who we are, not what we look like or what we wear. Mark healed something in me when he described his love for Julie. He made me see that I didn’t have to work hard for love through my appearance, that I could let go of an idea that was beginning to enslave me. It came to me in an instant that the attention that I got was meaningless; it was an illusion of love that I had conjured up in my own mind. I saw that love came from a deeper stratum of our being, that it was indescribable, and it defied all human logic. Mark made me see that one day I would be loved for me, and that when time ravaged my body, my soul would still be there, valid in its own right, and loved by people who would see beyond the surface to something that was unspeakably exquisite.

Throughout my life I have often thought about Mark. On the days when I would stress about going to the supermarket without my make-up on, I would remember that I was lovable no matter what I did. When I put on weight and wondered if I wouldn’t find love because I was too fat, I would remember Mark’s love for Julie and feel valid again. Through Mark, I learned that I would never have to earn love, that it was my birthright. And because of him, I shifted my focus to my inner life. He made me realize that I had to work on my inner beauty if I was to live my life in a healthy manner.  Mark returned something to me that had been lost for a long time. I don’t know where he is today, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll tell him all this when I meet him in ‘Heaven’.

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About Yaz

Hi Everyone! Please check out my site. There you'll find a range of subjects on which I've expressed my world view. I always challenge myself and others to move out of their point of view and try seeing things from another perspective. Your point of view will always be there if you don't like mine! And I'd love to hear from you. Perhaps you'll shift something in me. This is the journey to the True Self and I love it. Lots of love to you all!

Discussion

21 thoughts on “A Lesson in Love….Of the Five People I’d Want to Meet in Heaven…

  1. Yes, it is mostly the people that wrong us or harm us that we should consider as our best friends. Thanks for sharing this valuable reminder of an important truth as you have experienced it. 🙂

    Posted by Shantideva | September 27, 2012, 4:16 pm
  2. thank you for a sensitive and courageous post filled with wisdom! Love Linda

    Posted by Linda Willows | September 27, 2012, 4:38 pm
  3. Oh Yaz– what a wonderful wonderful narrative. Your story was not only so well written, flowing with ease and grace (just like you) — but also filled with such valuable lessons. This should be required reading for every student entering middle school !! (I did my graduate masters work in counseling psychology for his age group)… I related so much to what you expressed here too – we share some common bonds in experience. Thank you for sharing ~ truly enjoyed and appreciated – and will make sure my 2 young daughters read too… Oh – and your ending – perfect!! xo Much Love

    Posted by Robyn Lee | September 27, 2012, 6:56 pm
  4. I feel so comfortable in learning from you. Thank you for your gentle stories and own learned lessons.

    Posted by Chatter Master | September 27, 2012, 10:29 pm
  5. You and Mark were remarkable teachers for one another, and you at that young age had the wisdom to see what the purity of love is like.

    Posted by sufilight | September 28, 2012, 3:50 am
  6. Love is our birthright…

    The beautiful soul who taught me this (not so long ago) would be on the top of my list of 5. It will be interesting for me to ponder who would join him (and why) if it were my choice.

    Enjoyed your post!

    Posted by Remy | September 28, 2012, 8:22 am
  7. Thank you for your wonderful post. Ever since i received the email notification of the post i had been putting off reading it as i was busying myself with other non important things. But now was the time to read it and so i did. Throughout my life, my mum told me this story and as i was young i only really understood it in a very surface way. But now i am at the age where i can understand and appreciate this story about Mark, it seems to have taken on a whole new meaning for me. I now understand fully how Mark changed the way you view beauty and how it does truly come from inside. Exterior beauty is a distant second. Thank you for writin this ,Mum. Xxx

    Posted by Anon | September 28, 2012, 1:53 pm
  8. OMG, I never got any romance when I was 16! Yaz!!! 🙂
    But apart from all that, yes, I felt.
    And I see the message from Anon just above, saying ‘Thank you for writin this, Mum’. You know, that’s freakin’ precious, Yaz. Just precious 🙂

    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | September 28, 2012, 2:45 pm
  9. And what I forgot to say – Mark is wonderful, weight or no weight with you. I felt so, so so unlovable even in my bulimic/borderline anorexic state. What, not lovable because of fat on my belly? Bizarre though, isn’t it just.

    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | September 28, 2012, 2:48 pm
  10. Toller Bericht.Wünsche dir eine glückliche gute Woche Grüsse lieb Gislinde.

    Posted by giselzitrone | October 1, 2012, 10:43 am
  11. This is great:
    “He made me realize that I had to work on my inner beauty if I was to live my life in a healthy manner.

    Posted by julienmatei | October 3, 2012, 2:05 pm
  12. My dearest Yaz…I cried and cried after reading this. Your words drew me into another time, another place – it was like I was with you, feeling the triumphs, the sorrows of a 16-year old heart. Mark must have been a very special boy. And yet, it takes an even more special 16-year old girl to see the depth of the lesson of that chapter and to become healed by seeing truth. Oh, you always, always astound me with your depth of perception! No matter what has taken place in life, somehow, you are guided by an inner wisdom which has kept you safe, kept you whole, kept you beautiful. Only you could have told this story not only with impeccable writing but with your soul. I love you, Sharon

    Posted by aleafinspringtime | October 5, 2012, 2:14 pm
  13. I finally read this a second time I really feel there is a book in here somewhere!

    Posted by coastalmom | October 6, 2012, 10:26 pm
  14. So true! Love really is about who you are. Loved narrative.

    Posted by Kristin Barton Cuthriell | October 12, 2012, 11:06 pm
  15. Wünsche ein schönes weekend lieber Gruss Gislinde.

    Posted by giselzitrone | October 13, 2012, 11:42 am
  16. Yaz, I am inviting you to the Ligo Circle of Appreciation. This is not an award per se, but a chance to highlight 2 bloggers per day for 22 days in October.

    Thank you for all the wonderful and kind comments.

    Ivon

    Posted by ivonprefontaine | October 19, 2012, 3:42 am
  17. Love is our birthright…
    Wow. Never thought of it like that. There’s a lot on wisdom jam packed into this post.

    Posted by Jennifer M Eaton | October 21, 2012, 4:28 am
  18. What a deep, honest and profoundly moving story, Yaz, which reminds me that when we live out our limited fears and clingings as a result of trauma, mere appearances rule our hearts and minds. But, these veils cannot ultimately hide the light and guidance coming from the wellsprings of our true nature. Beautiful. Touching story. Thank you for sharing.

    Posted by erranttranscendentalist | October 27, 2012, 2:42 pm
  19. Thank you for this post Yaz. It was like looking into a mirror. Hard to describe.

    Posted by journeyman1977 | November 28, 2012, 11:08 am

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