Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

On Country Music and Staying Together

I've been listening to a lot of country music lately, and missing North Carolina. Dora is gone for a couple weeks, home in Taiwan for the New Year. The calendar rolls over to February, mornings emerge pale and quiet, and the week gives me a new rhythm. It sends me reasons for happiness.

We have a tough practice on Thursday; rounds are a wreck. And yet both of us found ways to process the disappointment and turn toward finding a solution; by the time we reached the studio on Friday afternoon we were ready to work and practice was both productive and joyful. I also had the deep pleasure of sharing breakfast with Mailande, my fellow MBA-turned-artist. The struggles and triumphs Mailande described were so lovely and intelligent, I kept thinking: this is the life of a woman who is seeking genuinely to grow every piece of herself, while also loving those around her.

The goodness of the daylight hours made the evening's darkness lonely. I missed my family, and wished I were eating a New Year's feast with them, rather than sitting at my desk working while eating leftovers and sipping bad wine. I stayed up late, thinking about ambition, trust, and honesty. How things fall apart, or don't. As a ballroom dancers, we pin our success to another person. I see some people changing partners often, what they think is "trading up," driven by ambition of the self rather than ambition of the partnership.  I remember during rounds once, Vlad told us, "there's a reason you dance with the same person for a long time. It takes time to learn about each other, to know how they will react in every situation, to understand how to tackle difficult moments together." Many coaches will say that it takes at least a year for a partnership settle in before it really takes off. Some say it takes two years for people to run out of things to fight about and settle down with each other.

Two years is a long time to suffer, especially for us young people, where two years is a big percentage of our lives. And nobody can say if commitment will have been the right decision. But honor matters too. A dear friend of mine went to Boston to be with his girlfriend. Although he admitted he didn't really like Boston, I told him: You should put everything you have into loving it, and if you still hate it, then you will honestly know it wasn't meant to be.

In pre-marriage relationships, as in ballroom, there are no contracts. Life cannot always be about being bound; I much prefer the lightness of giving freely. I open my heart, demand nothing, and allow hope and respect and love to drive the time we invest in creating something worthwhile. I would hope that if things turn dark, we would talk to each other first, that our community will help us stay together rather than pull us apart, and that if we agree it isn't working, we do it together with the guidance of our mentors or coaches or friends (who, if they are true, have our best interests at heart). An older gentleman was quoted on HONY about his wife's leukemia, and he called it "our diagnosis" and "our battle." Never "her battle." It's people like him who show us, painfully, how to live a good life.

So maybe that's the reason for all the country music, the songs like Dierks Bentley's "I Hold On" about keeping his truck forever, or all the songs about treasuring what God gives you through all the ups and downs. There's much to be found in faithfulness.

...Or maybe I just love songs about moonshine and whiskey.
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