Monday, January 29, 2007

Why I don't do 'windows'

One reason why I wrote The Thrill of the Chaste was to give single women a break from stories like this tabloid tale of missed "Relationship Windows."

It paints a Bosch-like hell of women in their 30s in "mounting despair" who "can't hide [their] screaming ovaries." If they miss their window for marriage, their next chance is when they're in their mid-40s, fretting because they're "competing with much younger, fresher women."

The reporter attempts to end on a note of hope, quoting a matchmaker who — though she charges nearly $12,000 for her services — insists that meeting one's mate isn't the be-all and end-all: "To be happy, you have to fulfill yourself."

If what the matchmaker is saying is that one's happiness should not depend upon outward circumstances or personal relationships, I can accept that. But she seems to go further than that by using the language of "fulfillment." In the context of her Cassandra-like pronouncements of middle-aged "singletons"' impending doom, the obvious question to me is, how can such a woman become "fulfilled"? Certainly not by reading newspaper articles painting unmarried life as a never-ending meat market where all the carrion stinks at the end of the day.

At any rate, how, pray tell, does one fulfill oneself? There's not a blessed thing I can do to fulfill myself; I'm lucky if I can manage to dress myself. I can, however, make a sincere attempt to help those around me enjoy more fulfilling lives, by trying with all my heart to say and do the most loving thing at every moment.

If I succeed even a small part of the time, I'm that much closer to being fulfilled. But I wouldn't call it fulfilling myself, because that would ignore the economy of grace — which magnifies every good thing I give into something far beyond what my own resources could provide.

According to the article, a "Relationship Window" opens only twice in one's life. Thankfully, the heart is capable of opening much more often. But one has to listen in order to hear it over the din of those screaming ovaries or what have you.