The Poised Warrior’s Valentine Gift

by Gary on February 13, 2013 in

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The Poised Warrior’s Valentine Gift

What to give Mary for Valentine’s Day tomorrow? She already has everything she wants, so “Don’t get me anything,” she always tells me. But I can’t skip this assignment because—I know from the 17 Valentine gifts I’ve received from her in our marriage so far—I will receive tomorrow a beautifully designed card with an intimate hand written note that says how special and loved I am, how lucky she is to have me, or how she hopes we will travel the universe together for infinity. There might also be a gift, something I am addicted to and normally banned from the house like chocolates or maybe something else that will be imaginative, thoughtful, and loving, a gift that only someone who knows you intimately and who wants to give you delight would find for you. In other words, Mary’s Valentine gift will be impeccable.

Looking for Gift Ideas
As usual, I don’t have a card or a gift with only a day to go. Looking for inspiration, I reread Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous essay “On Gifts.” His suggestions:

v Flowers, “…because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world.”
v Fruit, because “they are the flower of commodities.”
v What someone needs or wants: Even if “it be a fantastic desire, it is better to leave to others the office of punishing him”—so just give it.
v Something closely associated with the person in thought. (Mary’s love is music, but she already has five guitars, an electric piano, a fiddle, amps, recorders, and—oh—a ukulele.)

Then Emerson riffs on how most gifts, like rings and other jewels, are not gifts but “apologies for gifts.” We feel diminished by most gifts we receive, he suggests, intuitively knowing that they inadequately represent our true value.

We can’t quite forgive the giver, he says, unless the gift comes from love.

I Have It!
Emerson says, finally, “The only gift is a portion of thyself.”

What is the most dramatic, generous, surprising and delightful gift of myself I can give for Valentine’s Day? What gift would we all welcome from our lover? What portion of thyself (can I change that to myself?)—what portion of myself can I give to Mary tomorrow?

Imagine my Valentine card, with a beautiful design on the front page.

We turn to the inside of the card to find this:

MARY,
MY LOVER, FRIEND, PARTNER, LEARNING PARTNER,
WARRIOR TRAVELING COMPANION,

My Valentine gift to you this year: Tell me what you want me to change about myself and I will change. Today. Now. Permanently. Your choice.
To give you some ideas, here are some desired changes you have noted in the past, some of them many times. Would you like me to

v Embrace our dog, Jack, as my dog, quit telling the boring story about how you picked him out and brought him home from the Jack Russell rescue place over my objections, breaking your promise that we would only get a dog we both liked, stop talking about how three other families had already kicked him out and repeating over and over to friends the unfunny cliché that “three strikes and any dog is out,” quit mentioning to our visiting friends that we are all awash in dog hair in our house, start giving him affection, and treat him like the loving baby he is. Or

v Quit telling stories about your back-seat driving to friends over dinner when I think the conversation will be enhanced by making fun of you. And quit making other jokes in social situations about how older married people have merged, even looking alike, and how your hair is now as short as mine, proving that older women become more and more yang with their hapless aging husbands. Or, how about

v Stop acting like flatulence is the funniest human act, grow up, and start using the discretion that I would accept in the living room at Downton Abbey.

Or, maybe the change you want me to make is even deeper and more difficult.

I’m poised for change. I’m ready. Name it here:
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Your loving husband who loves to see you happy, Gary

by Gary on February 13, 2013 in

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  1. Oh, Oh, Oh!!! You really are real!!! I have been struggling to be” Poised” and to find my place in the “got it together grooves” and I find the real Gary!!!! He was/is the kid around the corner— my neighborhood playmate —the one who climbed trees, rode bikes, threw rocks in the creek and essenced those early years of childhood that were safe and secure.

    This Valentine for Mary is the best yet!! It is marriage and life —Relationships and love —and hopefully honest to goodness changes. But we love, cause we are trying.

    Clark and I just discussed our time for meeting at Walgreen’s tomorrow, where we will choose cards for each other – reading them there, out loud, -replacing them back in the rack, then go home together for a nice, quiet night without on more piece of paper in the “What shall we do with this?” file.

    A glass of wine and a back rub will be the best Valentine’s Day ever!!!!!

  2. My darling—I just re-read your Valentine’s Post and was quite touched. Emerson’s suggestion: “… give a portion of yourself,” seems like the only real gift in this age where materialism reigns.

    In the traditional giving of things, all too soon the candy is gone, flowers wilted, the new trinket forgotten in the back of a drawer. Then, we are left with the same people doing the same things—stuck in the eddy.

    You bring up, as we have talked about before, the importance of giving a gift. All too often, some obligatory bauble wrapped up quickly with a note jotted on the card and “whew—that’s done,” secretly whispered by the giver. Where is the “portion of yourself” in that? Or, where is the sense that the giver knows and cares about the recipient.

    For me to give a true gift, I believe I must think about the person receiving. What would be interesting, novel for this person? I would spend some of my life energy finding that right object or experience. There would be a portion of myself in giving a gift of this sort. I have sadly both given and received “careless gifts” too often in the past not to notice the difference now.

    Your gift options to me are the best I could possibly want. You are offering the highest of yourself in areas that reflect you truly know me. I laugh as I read your choices, yet they all contribute to our continuing to live in love’s embrace—continuing to find the ways we can be closer, more joyful.

    If I were to label the options you offered as A, B or C, I would be looking for D: all the above!

    Thank you for your fine gift and your love! Mary

  3. Grandpa, I hope that Mary didn’t Choose the option number. .4 (flatulence) that is funny until the day we die and we must continue to act like it is the source of great humor that it will forever be to all mankind.
    Nate

  4. I want to believe that V’day is a made up holiday by Hallmark…probably not true but that is what I choose to believe. It makes me feel better about not participating.
    Well written post only to be topped by Mary’s reply. I hope that Mary got her Valentine’s gift. Actually I am quite sure that you both have become …to each other…the gift that gives everyday. That is the true gift of love. The willingness to learn, listen, grow and become…..together. You two are role modeling it well. Thank you for the gift!

    Ron

  5. Gary, thanks for your gifts to me in our Cafe DoBeDoBeDo conversation this afternoon.:
    After reading your “gift,” to Mary and the responses to it, I recalled that when I was 17, Shakeseare had given me the priceless “gift” that Polonius gave to his son, Laeretes:
    This above all…to thine own self be true,
    and it must follow, as the niight the day,
    thou canst not then be false to any man.
    But I’m still having a problem with my ego to accept it.

  6. Excellent. I wish I had read it before I gave my gift. As we age we realize that many gifts are a burden to both the giver who feels they must give and the receiver who feels they must appreciate – and find a place for. Such a gift as you offered can certainly not be given to just anyone – at least by most of us – only to our most beloved. Ah, but what a great gift. I look forward to read if you can truly give the gift that keeps on giving. I think of Jack gets a vote I know what he will vote for – flatulence?

    1. Thanks for all of your comments about my Valentine gift to Mary.

      Judy, I nominate your Valentine Day practice with Clark to be included with the ALL TIME BEST VALENTINE DAY GIFTS. The image of you two reading cards to each other in front of the card rack, is lovely, poignant, and light hearted.

      Ron, Thanks for the compliments about how Mary and I are doing with our marriage. We do feel blessed to have our relationship.

      Walter: Ah, yes, the ego, our false self.

      Mick, it’s not too late to give the gift: how about giving it today?

      And, Mary. OK, I will give you gifts 1 and 2, but ;not number 3. Nate is right; we can’t give that one up.

      Blessings, Gary

  7. Excellent. I wish I had read it before I gave my gift. As we age we realize that many gifts are a burden to both the giver who feels they must give and the receiver who feels they must appreciate – and find a place for. Such a gift as you offered can certainly not be given to just anyone – at least by most of us – only to our most beloved. Ah, but what a great gift. I look forward to read if you can truly give the gift that keeps on giving. I think of Jack gets a vote I know what he will vote for – flatulence?