A Balanced Life: The Grownup's 4-H Club

A Balanced Life: The Grownup’s 4-H Club by Isadora Alman

“You can’t go out looking for love; it’s got to find you”.

“When you’re really ready, it will happen.”

“If you want it too much, you won’t get it.”

All these, and more like them, have been moaned by people wanting a Relationship, with a capital R, and by well-meaning friends offering comfort to solitary sufferers. You might use these same phrases yourself to justify staying home Saturday night leafing through supermarket flyers or watching Love Boat re-runs rather than facing yet another singles’ mixer. If you say them like a mantra, loud enough and often enough, you might drown out that insistent little voice murmuring “But if I never go out, the only people I’ll meet staying home are religious canvassers and underage cookie sellers.”

God – and by logical deduction to pagans, Cupid – does help those who help themselves. There are things to be done to increase chances of meeting Someone Special and having a Relationship other than staying at home plucking superfluous hairs or rushing anywhere there’s noise and action. Between the pages of every woman’s mag these days, among the articles on how to avoid fat knees and ten interesting things to do to your toe nails, you’ll read more and more about shaping up the inner person, toning psychic flab, strengthening moral muscle – far worthier subjects, I think, than the cultivation of skinny knees. (I don’t know why these self improvement articles seem to be directed exclusively to wards women. There are certainly many lonely, unhappy men around. Don’t believe Playboy’s assumption that their readers have it all together, and in quadraphonic sound.)

If you’re not interested in assembling a superior stereo system or in having fascinating toe nails, are you going to sit and wait for love to bestow itself upon you like some cosmic birthday present? Will you frantically beat the bushes for it as if a significant relationship were some vanishing species of game bird?

One thing most happy couples have in common is that they are comprised of two happy individuals. Did I hear you mutter, “Yeah, well, if I were part of a couple I’d be happy too.” The point I’m making is that a significant relationship needs to be the frosting on the cupcake of an already sweet life, not its main ingredient. Why would someone waltz into your life to cheerily take up the role of sole custodian of your happiness? That’s fairy tale stuff. Lovers nowadays only vow that in extremis, and they usually fail at the task.

We are all members of what I call the Grownups’ 4-H Club. The four H’s which make up a full and satisfying life are the areas of:

Home – where you kick off your shoes and say “ahhhh” . Rented, owned, shared, it’s where your favorite snack resides on the shelf and your favorite pillow on your bed.

Hire – what you do for money, your job or career

Heart – the people in your life who matter, a mate being only one of many possible roles to fill

Health – self explanatory

If you set yourself up so that all of these important areas are dependent on a significant relationship (“Once I have a lover then I can…advance in my career, eat well-balanced meals, move to a nicer place, please my mother…”) then there you’ll jolly well sit – stuck. If there is no one special in your life right now, take this opportunity to put all that pent-up energy to constructive use elsewhere.

Home: Does it reflect who you are? If life were a T.V. sitcom and the new neighbor who rings your doorbell to borrow some kitty litter turns out to be a stunner, would you block the view of your apartment’s interior rather than inviting her or him inside? Do something about it. Spruce it up. Have a talk with those who share your home, if such there be, so that all can run smoother. If you rent, think about buying. If you own, think about long-delayed remodeling. Where you live is your much vaunted “private space”. Do what you can to make it welcoming, to you and to others.

Hire: With no one special to rush home to, now is the time you can spend extra hours at work earning brownie points, if not overtime dollars. Check out professional organizations to expand your business contacts. Take a class in something helpful to your work. Explore and take on additional projects now, while you can concentrate.

Heart: One’s Main Squeeze should never be one’s only source of hugs. If you’re feeling disaffected from the human race because you can’t board Noah’s ark at present, why not phone old what’s-his-name and re-establish contact? Look up branches on your family tree. Try to get to know better that seemingly nice person you know only casually. Seek new friends and make old ones dearer. Connect! Should you meet a potential lover, you won’t appear (or BE) so needy if there’s warmth and affection already in your life.

Health: Wean yourself from candy or Kents while you are alone. You wouldn’t want to inflict the beast you become during withdrawal on someone you love. Sign up with a sport’s partner-finding service if you want to do something (else) physical that requires other bodies. Look into classes or support groups if you don’t like solitary sweating.

While you’re not sitting around waiting for love to happen, getting your life together instead, you might not be too busy to notice that you are coming into contact with new people. That real estate agent, business consultant, classmate, opposite corner in the square dance, might be someone special or be able to introduce you to someone who is. And if not, you now have a nicer place to live, work which is progressing, friends to go out with. If the potential Big R looks like it might develop from all this activity, now you have the nifty new problem of fitting it into the busy, happy life you have created.