post written by: Marc Chernoff

What We Have Been Searching For
All Along


Searching For All Along

Far From Perfect

About a year ago on his 30th birthday, after spending his entire adult life loosely dating different women, he suddenly decided he was ready to settle down.  He wanted to find a real mate… a lover… a life partner – someone who could show him what it meant to be in a deep, monogamous, trusting relationship.

So he searched far and wide.  There were so many women to choose from, all with great qualities, but none with everything he was looking for.  And then, finally, just when he thought that he would never find her, he found her.  And she was perfect.  She had everything he ever wanted in a woman.  And he rejoiced, for he knew how rare a find she was.  “I’ve done my research,” he told her.  “You are the one for me.”

But as the days and weeks turned into months and years, he started to realize that she was far from perfect.  She had issues with trust and self-confidence, she liked to be silly when he wanted to be serious, and she was much messier than he was.  So he started to have doubts – doubts about her, doubts about himself, doubts about everything.

And to validate these doubts, he subconsciously tested her.  He constantly looked around the apartment for things that weren’t clean just to prove that she was messy.  He decided to go out alone to parties with his single guy friends just to prove that she had trust issues.  He set her up and waited for her to do something silly just to prove that she couldn’t be serious.  It went on like this for awhile.

As the tests continued – and as she, clearly shaken and confused, failed more and more often – he became more and more convinced that she was not a perfect fit for him after all.  Because he had dated women in the past who were more mature, more confident, and more willing to have serious conversations.

Inevitably, he found himself at a crossroads.  Should he continue to be in a relationship with a woman who he once thought was perfect, but now realizes is lacking the qualities that he already found in the other women that came before her?  Or should he return to the lifestyle he had come from, drifting from one empty relationship to the next?

Every Light Casts A Shadow

When he showed up at my door this evening looking for answers, this is what I told him:

One of the greatest lessons we get to learn in life is that we are often attracted to a bright light in another person.  Initially, this light is all we see.  It’s so bright and beautiful.  But after awhile, as our eyes adjust, we notice that this light is accompanied by a shadow – and usually a fairly large one.

When we see this shadow, we have two choices: We can either shine our own light on the shadow or we can run from it and continue searching for a shadowless light.

If we decide to run from the shadow, we must also run from the light that created it.  And we soon find out that our light is the only light illuminating the space around us.  Then, at some point, as we look closer at our own light, we notice something out of the ordinary.  Our light is casting a shadow too.  And our shadow is a bigger and darker than some of the other shadows we’ve seen.

If, on the other hand, instead of running from the shadow, we decide to walk towards it, something amazing happens.  We inadvertently cast our own light on the shadow, and likewise, the light that created this shadow casts its light on ours.  Suddenly, both shadows begin to disappear.  Not completely, of course, but every part of the two shadows that are touched by the other person’s light illuminate and disappear.

And as a result, we each find more of that bright beautiful light in the other person – which is precisely what we have been searching for all along.

Photo by: Antony Chammond

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40 Comments

  • Every time I read one of these stories on this site, I have a kind of ‘moment’. It makes me more aware of, not only my own issues, insecurities and experiences, but also those of people that I love and care about. I have to thank you for expanding my mind and creating more of an awareness within myself. Cheesey as it may sound to others, you help me so much in the monotony of day-to-day life. Thank you :)

  • What a lovely story…

  • This post made me cry. It is so wise.

    It’s so easy to produce a list of characteristics and criteria that a prospective partner must have.

    But what about the ones that don’t appear on our list? The boxes we don’t think to include?

    I love the concept of the ‘lights’ that become one.

    Every couple should read and ponder deeply on this article so that they don’t expect perfection. Are THEY perfect? Is anyone? Of course not but sometimes it’s easy to imagine we are…

  • Awesome article. Thank you!

  • Excellent article. My wife and I have been able to do a very good job at focusing on each other’s “light” side and not spending much time dwelling in the shadow.

    Of course, every relationship experiences turbulence and it is in those moments where you decide where to focus your attention.

    I think too many people become consumed with the shadow and miss out on the real gift in the person they have. Thanks for sharing this as it is a great reminder of where to focus in a relationship (spouse or otherwise).

  • Wow. Thank you!

  • wow. This is so simple and beautiful. True for all relationships and friendships. To shine our light on all we can. A wise friend told me, thats why we’re here , in the first place. Unconditional compassion , she called it. A lovely article . Thank u for sharing.

  • Simply beautiful advice Marc.

    “One of the greatest lessons we get to learn in life is that we are often attracted to a bright light in another person. Initially, this light is all we see. It’s so bright and beautiful. But after awhile, as our eyes adjust, we notice that this light is accompanied by a shadow – and usually a fairly large one.”

    Stumbled.

  • It can get so frustrating for many people who are searching for the perfect Mr. or Ms. Right and believe that they are out there - that there is only one person who is your ’soul mate’ or whatever. The reality is that no one is perfect and that we all have flaws. We all grow, too, so the person you thought was perfect last year is, surprise, surprise, a different person this year. You have to accept that reality and deal with your loved one as they currently are. Not live in the past or the future. Accept them for who they are and hope that they accept you for who you are.

    Best of luck.

    Karen

  • This is so wise, it made me cry.

    I love the part about the two lights joining together to dispel the shadows.

    It’s all very well having boxes to tick when searching for a partner but what about the boxes that get missed off the list?

    I think every couple should read and ponder on this post before deciding they are meant to be together.

    Who are we to think a) we’re perfect or b) that we’ll find the perfect partner.

    As I’ve read on here, perfection is a figment of all our imaginations.

  • Just happened onto this site today. Very nice post!

    Doubt and self-fulfilling prophecy can lead us to many really terrible places in life, including isolation. Learning to live with others is difficult, but it is worth the effort, possibly more than anything else that I can think of.

    Great line - “Suddenly, both shadows begin to disappear.”

    I am glad to have found you here. Have a great day!

  • Wow!! That was so beautifully said!
    & its perfect w/ what I had been going through w/ my husband.But like my husband said: “We need to remember why we fell in love w/ them in the first place”:)

  • One of the best analogies I have read on the subject.
    Thanks for sharing it.

  • Weirdfullywonderful
    July 5th, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks for posting! This is so true. I love all your blog posts! They help everyone develop their character and really get to know themselves. :)

  • Awesome. Just awesome, Marc.

  • Beautiful article! That is, the content and its delivery.

    Nobody is perfect in this life. And we should accept that fact.

    We all have light and shadows. The shadow will not exist, were it not for the light. If there is no light at all, there is darkness. A shadow is better than darkness.

    Each of us has strengths and weakness. We complement one another. The weakness of one may be another one’s strength. That is why we need one another - to make each other whole.

  • @All:

    As usual, thanks so much for the kind remarks. They truly inspire me and make me smile. I hope you all have a wonderful week.

    ;-)

  • Love the way you spin stories to share profound insights and wisdom. Keep up your excellent work!

  • A wise friend and shaman once told me that what attracts us to a person is often the thing that repels us later, and when that happens we need to turn the mirror back on ourselves to see why that specific action is such a hot button for us. The issue is totally about you, not the other person (abuse and socially unacceptable behavior do not apply to this scenario, of course).

    I’ve tried this myself many, many times and it always comes back to an issue I’m struggling with myself. It helps me work through the muck and keep the issue on me instead of in my relationship (most of the time - I’m not perfect!)

  • What a gorgeous story! I think so many people forget that nobody is perfect, but that when you fall in love with someone, you need to remember to take the good with the bad. And when choosing someone to spend your life with, you just have to see whether the good outweighs the bad and if it does, then nothing else matters.

  • i like the idea of not running from the shadows and that the only way to find satisfaction is to not become afraid of these shadows :)

  • It’s a nicely crafted story, but another one of those that seems to say to me: “Settle for whatever you can get.” This seems to come from a fear of being alone, of being in your own “shadow.” How are you supposed to tell the difference between someone who isn’t for you and someone who is for you but you simply aren’t looking at their “light” enough? This story seems to say there is no difference.

  • I loved this. It’s sometimes hard for me to remember why I fell in love with who I did, but once in awhile, I get a pure look at his light. Beautiful post.

  • Love your blog…great recent post and really good insight. I’ve added you to my blog list. :)

    Mine is a small little blog with mostly FB friends being kind enough to comment - going to recommend your site. :)

  • Great message, good delivery. I just had one little continuity problem that made it seem false. At the beginning you say “About a year ago on his 30th birthday” and go on about how he has decided to settle down. After he meets the woman and decides she is the one you go on to say “But as the days and weeks turned into months and years”. Do you see it now? If he only decided to settle down a year ago, how could he and this woman have been together for years?

    Is this nitpicking? Yes it is, but this is what I do for a living :) These kind of seemingly minor continuity details are what make a good story truly great, because it is all about plausibility.

  • ahh.. Just the answer I was needing.

  • It’s like you’re telling the story of my life. :)

  • One of the most beautiful posts I’ve ever read. Let alone the wiseness, this is just so much motivating.

    You can’t expect from the others to be perfect because you’re not neither.

    When the light ends and the shadow appears, love begins.

  • Nothing of ourself needs to be hidden but when we deny, run from or are scared of parts of who we are a shadow grows. True love is first for ourself and who we are; every single bit, emotion and feeling. A superb, gentle story that weaves a simple truth in a moving way. So very well written and enjoyed.

  • Simple stories mean a lot ,as we all known,every coin has two sides ,the one used to be bright will not enjoy the goloris all the time ,cause we -human beings,has more initiatives ,we may easily get attracted in something brand new,then we will change our focus,if things are running in such circumstance, we will be pursuing all the time ,cause nobody is perfect all the time , the thing is we should change our mind ~

  • Amazing post! Loved it so much that I shared it with my readers here: http://evolutionyou.net/carousel-07-16-10/

    Have a fabulous weekend! xo

  • Wow, what a great, eye-opening article. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Marc,

    This is one of the most beautiful, thought-provoking pieces I have read in a long time.

    I am, at this moment, hand copying it and displaying it prominently on my refrigerator so I am reminded often that everyone has their shadow-part of their existence and it is the light of love and unconditional acceptance for one another that make this hard life bearable and often beautiful in spite of their shadow half. Thank you for these powerful words that will remind me often that the light of another can pull us from our darkness and the shadows that we cast are just as vital as the light that we give off.

    - Tricia, NY

  • This is a lovely story, and so true too.
    Sort of makes me wish I hadn’t argued so much in my previous relationship…

  • Another great story Marc, and thank again for sharing it. That’s right we should share share light, but to do that, we must first find light within ourselves.

  • Wow, love this article and love this website!

  • Thank you for this wonderful article.
    I definitely found myself in it; it really makes me rethink about some things I struggle with at the time, and I’m about to send it via e-mail to my ‘Light’. It may cast a shadow, but I am sure it is worth walking towards it. ♥

  • Beautiful.

  • Thank-you. this makes so much sense. I’ve run from shadows before and now i feel like i can be brave enough to face them.

  • i am speechless…. your articles always lighten my day :) thank you.

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