The elephant seals make it look simple. Squawking on the a strip of beach north of San Simeon in central California they herd their young while looking a lot like healthy couples. Here's a father haruumphing and flopping over the sand to get next to his partner who, it just so happened, was hanging out with another male seal. The guest left hurriedly as father/mate approached. He lustily bit his partner on the back of the neck and she squawked with enthusiasm - "yes I'm yours."
They have no problem claiming their love, keeping it current or laying in the sun happily while the kids nurse and flop around themselves.
My daughter and her eleven year old friend watched this social event with glee. We had just arrived having decided to take a quick three day trip up the coast while mama vacationed with friends in Vegas. I was aware of my complicated way of thinking, of my always wanting to understand, of my sometimes need to put my own relationship under too fine a focus.
I was reminded of the first lines of a beautiful poem by David Whyte .. "And we know when Moses was told,
in the way he was told,
'take off your shoes!' He grew pale from that simple
reminder of fire in the dusty earth.
He never recovered
his complicated way of loving again
and was free to love in the same way
he felt the fire licking at his heels loved him... Fire in The Earth, David Whyte
After a bit we left the amazing elephant seals and as we did my daughter pointed and said "look Papa, triplets."
Tolstoy once said this "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." We were reminded of one simple truth as we watched the families of elephant seals. Uncomplicated loving is a pathway to happiness, lowers your stress, and may, occassionally, get you a sweet bite on the neck.