Sometimes these goals will be financial ones, and partners will organize their lives around career and material concerns. Or, the idea of family might be the binding principle, and couples in this case will pour their energies into caring for and raising their children.
These kinds of arrangements tend to work well for a while. At least the relationship will look harmonious on the surface. But what happens when people finally achieve the goals that they've been working towards for so long? They may build their dream house and find that life suddenly feels stifling and dull. Sometimes when children grow up and leave home their parents begin to drift through their days aimlessly, without purpose or reason to stay together any longer.
Our relationships can thrive only so long as the ideals that we've built them upon can last - unless we're able to find a new vision to help us to redefine where we're heading. Our lives and our world both exist in a state of constant change. A partnership that's intended for life but also based upon priorities that are temporary can face a real struggle over the long haul.
In a forever-changing world, the only real constant is our own processes of growth; so the one priority that partners can really rely on to carry them through the years is a commitment to support each other in growing. When lovers are bound by a common goal like this, their relationship can remain strong and steady in the face of life's twists and turns, even if they move in separate circles from time to time or develop differing interests.
This helps people pull away from a cycle of possessive loving and into a kind of love that is much more unconditional.
There's a scene in What Casts the Shadow? where the bond between narrator Brandon Chane and his girlfriend, Janie McCabe, is cemented. This occurs partially because of Brandon's recognition (hard won, throughout the course of his journey thus far) that there is no "final resting place" in existence.
“I guess it’s a feeling of anticlimax,” I told her. “I mean, you pour so much of yourself into your songs, and then you bring those songs to the people… I guess I’d assumed that somewhere along the line I’d feel like I’d arrived, like I’d done it. But really, it’s just that people are entertained for a while and then they get on with the rest of life.”
“But you don’t know what they’re taking away from it,” Janie argued. “Some things really do change our lives, you know. Songs, books, poems – even a conversation you have with someone; it can turn you in a different direction.”
“Yeah, I know,” I conceded. Then I laughed as the inspiration hit me. “It’s like the lottery! Hah! Is that not the definitive invention of modern civilization?”
Janie flashed me the impish smile that I’d grown to know and adore. “Oh, do go on, Mister Chane!”
“So many things revolve around that goddamn notion: Heaven, celebrity worship, nirvana; winning on a scratch-off ticket. You wonder why people hustle about looking distracted all the time? They’re chasing the illusory moment that these cultural stories promise us, the moment when we’ve made it. All questions are settled and all growth is accomplished. It’s the myth of perfection. It would mean death, really, if one could ever attain such a thing. And yet people keep chasing it.”
Janie looked into my eyes for a long moment, as if she was trying to catch a glimpse of something before it scampered away.“Then just keep playing for your love of it – and don’t worry about making it,” she said. “If perfection is a myth, like you say, then we’ve already arrived.”