I have to find the target before I can hit the bullseye. In Pigeon toed: a minimalist mistake I went through an elaborate process of refinement to adapt my walking to the uberminimalist water shoes Leela helpfully suggested. I was aiming at the wrong target. Not even the spiffiest laser sight will help me hit me hit a target to the north if I'm shooting south. In that case no refinement was needed. I already had the shoes I needed. I'd thrown them over for some alluring minimalist crap. Likewise I became homeless because I insisted on aiming at shared housing and couldn't find it. I had to get all the way desperate before I could accept that living alone was what I needed. Since I moved into my new home my life has been nothing but refinement. I'm learning to use my ordinary life in my new home as a tool for making progress with love.
Conceived. I should have started Waltz etcetera by myself. Why didn't I? Partly because it wasn't my idea. It was modeled after a waltz practice session a guy put on in spring 1998. That one lasted six weeks and was technically a class offered at the Queen Anne Community Center. But the guy just put on waltzes for us to dance. I went to every one of those with my wife. I missed it when it was over. I was griping about the lack of opportunities to waltz and she said Why don't you start your own like he did? Waltz etcetera was conceived in that moment as the result of her comment. I felt obliged to include her as part owner. I was not the sole parent. I put a sheet of paper out at the front desk of classes and dances we went to saying we were going to do this. We asked people to put down their name and email address if they would be interested. Outreach was email only from the beginning. A dance friend told us a guy we didn't know was also interested in developing a waltz dance. I reached out to him and the three of us met over beers. That's how Waltz etcetera was born. Now I see Leela set it all up like that. I needed to be forced to fight the two of them for what I wanted. There was no fighting at first. We were all in accord about everything the first seven years of Waltz etcetera. Then in 2006 I had my come to Jesus moment and my likes and dislikes began evolving. That awakening lit a fire of refinement that's been burning ever since, ever brighter.
Likes and dislikes. As I get free of the mental garbage my likes and dislikes become reliable guidance. Likes and dislikes come from the deepest level, from who I am, from Leela. They're honest visceral responses, my bottom line. I can't make myself like or dislike something or someone. But the mental garbage can be insidious. For instance, I have a longstanding idea I should like apples. Apples are good for you, an apple a day, pectin blah blah blah. But I don't like apples. I didn't like them as a kid and I still don't. I finally gave up on trying to make myself like apples; I never acquired the taste. Tobacco and booze were both acquired tastes. In my earliest recollections both of those vices were nasty. But I acquired those tastes, that is my thinking overruled my body's honest reaction. I acquired a taste for chocolate in the mid 1960s in Kenya, right about the time I started drinking booze. As a kid I much preferred vanilla. I finally stopped eating chocolate in 2021. Not because it was an addiction I needed to cure. I just got honest enough with myself to admit I didn't really like it anymore. Losing my acquired taste for chocolate is an example of evolving tastes. Food that's good for me tastes better; old indulgences become uninteresting. The idea of drinking alcohol is now deeply repellent. Evolving tastes are an example of making progress with love. The transformation of who I am via making progress is the only kind of change that's real and permanent.
Overlap. I met Ruth when I was still with Cindy. Ruth had been away from dance for years because she had kids. The kids were now old enough for her to get away and she came to my dance, Waltz etcetera. After a few songs I saw she was free and headed over to ask her to dance. I got there at the same time as another guy. We asked her simultaneously and I lost the toss. That stung. This is my dance. Who does she think she is, turning me down for some schlub who can't count to eight? Meanwhile things were tanking with Cindy. She wanted me to move into her life and her apartment and heal her broken family. She started pressuring me to come hang out there with her and her kids. I gave it a try, I really did. But it started to feel bad. Stale and forced. I didn't want that kind of life. That's what I had with my ex wife, a whole family. I left her to get away from that. By the time Ruth showed up at my dance again I was really ready for something else. This time I didn't miss my chance to dance with her. I pulled out the stops and wowed her good.
Dancing with Ruth was heavenly. We soon became lovers. I didn't care that she was married. I didn't want to break up her family. Being with Cindy had made me leery of family ties. I fell hard for Ruth. Love like I never knew love could be. We were cheating for a full year before her husband figured it out. It all came out during a family vacation. That gave them plenty of time to talk it over. Her husband was able to see that family life had improved dramatically since Ruth and I got together. We became openly poly. We had a glorious time. Then in 2016 I quit drinking. That changed everything and put me and Ruth on a path to breakup. Without an alcoholic buzz I was able to feel how lonely I was in a part time relationship. Even with booze I had dreaded evenings at home alone. Now that got much worse. When Ruth and I were together I wasn't as much fun to be around. Booze made me a much more fun guy, the fun guy she fell in love with. Now neither one of us were getting our needs met. We broke up in February 2020 right before the pandemic hit.
Refined sensibilities. I don't get refined sensibilities from education no matter how many degrees I collect. But I also don't get them without being very well educated indeed. The refinement of taste and sensibility is a slow and difficult process, as slow and difficult as making progress with love. Refinement reflects development.