Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lesson in Soul Mates from Robert Downey Jr. in "Only You"



Along from my sudden Jeff Goldblum craze is the Robert Downey Jr. craze. It's weird how these two crazes appear to be going in tandem, especially since I didn't even like RDJ up until last year. Be that as it may, I like him now, and so for the last few weeks, I've spent time tracking down some of his older films, like Soapdish, Heart and Souls, and a cute little film called Only You, on which this post is based.

Every once in a great while, I briefly ponder the idea of soul mates. But always without giving the thought much credence or, quite frankly, attention. In fact, I haven't really thought about soul mates in years, not until I watched Only You which is steeped in the concept, particularly Plato's theology.

Plato's concept of Soul Mates found in Symposium

As Plato tells it, and this is truly weird, humans were once comprised of two heads, four arms, four legs, and double, well . . . everything else. Most were male/female, some were male/male, and some were female/female. It was a convenient way for Plato to include homosexuality in his definition of soul mates, but moving on. These human hybrids became arrogant and cocky and they determined that they were like the gods. Zeus, in his anger, condemned humanity, saying,
"Men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased in numbers; this will have the advantage of making them more profitable to us. They shall walk upright on two legs, and if they continue insolent and will not be quiet, I will split them again."
Pretty wacko, right? But the people of the day were totally steeped in mythology and belief in the gods so it made sense to them. Because there was no such thing as a single person according to Plato, after the split, people never felt entirely whole. They were lacking something, in this case, lacking their other half. The entirety of existence, according to Plato, is a desperate need to locate our other half, our soul mate, the half of ourselves that we lost when Zeus split us in two separate beings.
"When one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other's sight, as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lover's intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell."

Back to Only You

So, what do you think of Plato's soul mates theory?

As an English major, I don't mind mythology and its concepts, in fact, I find these types of theories fascinating. But they are only theories, with nothing ever proven. Keeping that in mind, the entire concept of soul mates according to Plato is pretty much a load of crock. Exceptionally romantic crock, but crock just the same.

To my surprise, Only You utilizes Plato's theory in a way that eventually disproves it. The heroine of this story, Faith, is absolutely convinced that her soul mate is a man named Damon Bradley because not only did the Ouija board spit it out at her when she was twelve, but so did the Gypsy woman who told her fortune at the county fair that same year. So, Faith has spent her entire life absolutely assured that at some point she will meet a man named Damon Bradley who will be her ideal match in every way possible. By the time she's twenty-six and he hasn't come, she's resigned herself to marrying a man named Wayne who's a podiatrist and a perfectionist, and doesn't even like getting her lipstick on his mouth. What kind of guy doesn't enjoy kissing?

Ten days before her wedding, the phone rings, Faith answers, and who should be on the other end but a guy named Damon Bradley calling to wish her fiance the best of luck in his marriage. Thus begins a crazed adventure over the long Labor Day weekend for English teacher, Faith. She and her best friend Kate fly to Italy to track down Damon, chasing him from hotel to hotel and restaurant to restaurant until finally, she almost misses him altogether. It's a good thing she loses her shoe and he chases her through the street trying to return it. She finally plops on a bench, he kneels to put her shoe back on, he looks deep into her eyes, and . . . he's a goner. The only problem? He's not actually Damon Bradley.

Cue all sorts of drama and romantic entanglements and silly mishaps.



The basic life lesson of Only You is that we, in fact, make our own destiny. Kate, being so stuck on this one name, nearly misses out on the most incredible match of her life. She allows absolutely no room for flexibility once she realizes that Damon Bradley actually exists. Emotions or attraction or even commonalities mean absolutely nothing to her. She has to find Damon Bradley and he will be THE ONE. Her soul mate, her other half, because it is written in the stars, blah, blah, blah. Yes, she does snap out of this mad chase at some point. And yes, she probably could have been content with the podiatrist, but Faith is a romantic, a lover of literature, a lover of travel and exotic places, and so she really needed another dreamer, which she found. They may not be soul mates, but they are ideally matched. Any two people who can fall in love over the span of a weekend with the intent to marry have to be ideally matched . . . either that, or crazy.

Do soul mates really exist? If so than Ivanhoe totally married the wrong girl when he didn't pick Rebecca. However, I'm inclined to think no, they don't. The other side of the whole soul mate theory is that if we don't marry our soul mate, than we will never be truly happy. So if you marry a man who you genuinely like, but you're not soul mates, than you'll never find the true peace and tranquility and passion of marrying your soul mate. I don't think so. I mean, okay, what if my soul mate is already married? What if I start volunteering at church and find him while he's dropping off his kids for Sunday School. Our eyes meet, our souls connect . . . and he drops his family flat to be with me. Excuse me? Who would give that kind of excuse for infidelity and divorce? My soul mate made me do it?

In reality, the idea of soul mates give us loop holes in relationships. I'm not content with my husband, but I really connect with this other guy, he's my soul mate, so I'll go for it. Soul mate theory implies that if you find your soul mate, everything is wine and roses. You'll never have relational problems, communication is perfect as is intimacy, and you'll never disagree on anything. I don't know about you, but I have never seen this type of relationship. EVER. Why? Because we are flawed human beings who can and will hurt one another when given the chance. Soul mates be damned.

So, while I do not believe in soul mates, I do believe in love and an ideal match. You can find someone who suits your mannerisms and personality, who you connect to on an intimate level that is deeper than with anyone else, and you can often see little decisions here and there that you made leading you to this other person. I call that God. It has nothing to do with destiny or fate or the splitting of two souls. It's simply a meeting of two like-minded individuals who share more commonalities than differences and have that spark of connection. And in the case of one couple I know, I can see the various steps the man has taken to find the woman he is going to marry. It's astounding how God led him every step of the way, and it is all God.

Relationships take work and investment. You will have problems to work through and issues that need resolving. Saying that the other person just isn't your soul mate is not now, nor will it ever be, a viable excuse for infidelity. God gives us instructions on how love one another time and again His word, and while it is hard, all of these instructions are geared to help us overcome our difficulties and build stronger relationships. He never said anything about soul mates.

If you ever get a chance to watch Only You, take it. The movie is adorable, especially if you're a romantic. I swear that no man should have eyelashes as long, thick, and dark as Robert Downey Jr. Some things in life just are not fair!

19 comments:

  1. Plato was attempting to comprehend that inner longing in all of us that directly ties back to not a soul-mate, but our Creator and our desire for a Perfect Life devoid of pain and emptiness. He believed, as so many modern romance writers do (Nicholas Sparks!) that we can be made whole again through another human being -- our soul-mate. In reality, we can only be made whole through Christ... and probably, not entire whole until we are separate from this fallen form and living in eternity, where the emptiness will be completely filled. Our yearning is not for another person; it is for a rich fulfillment of inner purpose that we can rarely achieve upon this earth. Our yearning is to once again walk with God in the Garden.

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    1. It fascinates me how everyone can experience this crazy longing for something else, this feeling of being incomplete, and think that it's the lack of a soul mate. As if another person can actually fill that void. I mean, I think that connecting to people helps, but nothing can actually fill that emptiness apart from God. I suspect that if I were to take an hour, every day, and just spend time with the Lord, I would feel more complete than I can even imagine. Now to actually step and do it.

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    2. Awesome post, Carissa! And I completely agree with Charity here -- that longing for completeness we all have can only be truly filled with Christ, but so many people insist it can be someone or something else instead. Sad. Heartbreaking, really.

      I don't believe in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. I do believe in finding a person you get along with insanely well, who accepts you, who tries their best to understand you. That's my definition of true love, or part of it, anyway.

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    3. Yep, I completely agree. We think that it's the need for someone else that creates that void. And while some of that might be true, like wanting to be married in my case, but I also know that it's far, far more than just wanting an intimate relationship. I am so content in my life when I'm in communion with God. And I need to remember that more than I do.

      As for love at first sight, I'm tempted to think that it depends on the personality type. I can't fall in love at first sight since I'm not even sure what it's supposed to feel like other than what I see or read. But I know of some types that fall in love and get married in the span of 6 months. That was my parents and they've been married for 40 years. They were introduced by their pastor and that was all she wrote, which is very romantic, and it just entirely depends on their personality types, which I honestly don't know for sure what their types are. Some types are capable of love at first sight, for better or worse, even though it's not necessarily the wisest choice.

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    4. But that's not love at first sight. That's attraction at first sight that encourages you to get to know the other person. I do believe in rapidly falling in love -- by the time I'd been dating Cowboy for 3 months, I knew I wanted to marry him. We didn't get engaged for 9 more months after that, and we were engaged for a full year, but if we hadn't been in college, I think we would have married much more quickly than that. When you know, you know.

      Anyway, I do think some people are much more emotionally "ready" than others, and so fall in love more quickly, but just seeing someone across a room and saying, "Yup, I'll marry them" is not something I believe works.

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    5. Some people are far more pragmatic about life and that emptiness than others -- after watching "The Notebook" (edited) with me once, my dad said, flatly and without emotion, "What a load of rubbish. The entire movie's premise is that one person can fulfill the emptiness in your heart. They can't. Only God can do that."

      Gee, Dad ... thanks, here I was wrapped up in the beauty of growing old together and he just saw it for what it was -- sentimental nonsense. Gotta love men.

      My parents -- an ENFP/ISTJ -- got married within ... four months? Something like that. They can credit none of their success to them being the right person and all of it to both of them getting saved within a few months of getting married. In other words -- God did it.

      Your parents, I suspect, from my interactions with them are ENFP/ISFJ.

      I don't think love at first sight is type related; it's a personal attraction. Though, at times I wonder if there isn't something to be said for throwing yourself into a marriage knowing that divorce isn't an option and agreeing to love each other, no matter what -- and if not love, act like you are in love. Seems to work for a lot of people, mostly those who truly don't see divorce as an option.

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    6. Yeah, Rachel, I can see what you're saying. Although I'm not sure I could even fall in love in the span of a few months because I wouldn't be sure whether they were revealing their authentic self to me or not. For me, that would come with time. I may have to reevaluate that at some point, though, since I'm progressively getting older so my time span to get married and have kids keeps shortening! :)

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    7. Obviously it totally changes from situation to situation, person to person. I'd known Cowboy for 8 months before we started hanging out, 8 months at college where I had classes with him 4 or 5 days a week and we had some friends in common, so we would eat a meal at the same table several times a week. Then we hung out daily for about six weeks before we decided to date. So by the time a friend asked, "Do you think you'd marry that guy?" and I said, "Actually, yeah, I think I could," I'd known him nearly a year, but we'd only been dating 3 months. And for all but 1 week of those 3 months, we had been been far apart over summer break, our only contact the very long emails we exchanged daily.

      (Of course, I actively disliked him for the first 4 of those 8 months, but hey...)

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    8. Charity,

      I love your Dad. Way to totally ruin the mood! This is why I will never show Only You to my father. I showed it to Caitlin and she liked it, but she thinks that Faith is a moron since she was engaged to a perfectly nice podiatrist. No romance in Caitlin's soul, at all! At least, not in this regard.

      Honestly, how can we ever truly know if someone is the right person or not? I mean, what if the chemical reaction to that person dies within 6 months, but you've gone and married them after knowing them for 4 months? Not a very good idea. It is a miracle, all God, that my parents and your parents are still married. I mean, mine have been married 41 years this next November. I'm still floored when I think about it!

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    9. Rachel,

      That is hilarious that you didn't even like your future husband for the first 4 months of knowing him! I would day that sounds like very much a Godthing. :)

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    10. Carissa: I already think Faith is a moron and I haven't even met her yet. Of course... I'm not a romantic either, as you well know. I'm a cynic.

      My parents exchanged frequent letters for awhile and... decided to get married. And it worked. They fit together right, they get along, they decided divorce was not an option, and God helped them out.

      Our generation is much more wary of marriage than the previous one -- because we have seen so many divorces. Maybe we shouldn't be afraid ... maybe we need to leap into things once in awhile. If the guy is decent, and godly, why wouldn't it work?

      Rachel: hubby is an INTJ, right? If I remember right and he is ... I can see why it would take you awhile to warm up to him. INTJs can ... uh... take some getting used to. I'm friends with a male INTJ and we head-butted a lot for the first six weeks or so of our friendship. I'm slowly getting used to him and learning not to take everything he says as an insult. He doesn't mean it that way, it just comes out ... brutally judging. LOL

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    11. Charity, yes, and THAT is the reason why I already decided to leave Only You at home. Not only are you not an RDJ fan, but Faith is, well, Faith, so I knew that would be two strikes against it. Hey, at least I know you won't like it, so that's a good thing! :)

      I think we are wary of marriage in some ways, but also, I myself am unwilling to commit to a man who isn't a man. There are no men like my grandfather left in the world, or even like my Uncle Art. And that's pretty disheartening. I cannot marry a video game/sports addict. I'd like to think that Christian men don't play video games, but I know they do, and it drives me CRAZY! I would love a guy who only turns on the tv for Castle! In fact, if he only watched tv when I begged him to watch a movie with me, that would be awesome.

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    12. I'm sorry. A tiny part of me wishes I could like RDJ for your sake but the rest of me says NOPE. He is forever tainted because I abhor his Sherlock Holmes too much. Sad fact of life -- whatever role an actor plays impacts me negatively the most, taints him.

      I think that is a generalization. You ASSUME there are no men left like your grandfather because you have not met any, but how many men have you met? How many have you dated? How many do you know? We leap to conclusions far too soon about men based on nonexistent parameters, and then influence rules on them even before we get to know them. That's not fair to them. Give them a chance. :)

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    13. Yeah, he's an INTJ, and he had a noticeable dearth of people skills when we met. Think Mycroft Holmes as a teenager. The first time I mentioned him in my journal, I called him an opinionated idiot.

      I always had this dread that, like Anne Shirley, I would end up marrying a guy I initially detested. In fact, I spent much of my teen years pathologically avoiding any guy I remotely disliked just so I wouldn't run the risk of falling in love with them, hee. I kept thinking, "Ack! I can't stand so-and-so! What if I end up marrying him! How awful!" Which then got flipped right in my face when precisely that thing I feared happened to me. Definitely a God-thing, as you've put it -- I had to learn that someone with few social skills can learn them, that hair so unruly can be tamed (we called him "fluffy-head" because his hair was... horrible), and that sometimes that initial instinctive-dislike thing is false and needs to be ditched (I'm still working on that -- I'm far to ready to dislike a person based on first impressions).

      And Cowboy is proof that not all guys watch sports (ditto for both his brothers and my brother too), though he does like computer games like "Civilization" and used to play them a lot before we had kids. If I wasn't in his life, he'd see one movie a year, maybe, and not own a television. He's not a big Castle fan, though. Nobody's perfect.

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    14. I know, and I don't hold it against you that you don't like him. I didn't like Colin Firth for years as I recall. :) Caitlin's the same way with James Stewart. Every other role is tainted by George Bailey.

      Thanks for pulling me up by my bootstraps. I base my opinions of men on what I saw at the library, full grown men standing in front of the video games section holding on voracious gaming conversations with one another. It depressed me like you wouldn't believe. But, they're not an accurate representation of all men, and I should know that based on where I work now. They're not all gamers, and I need to remember that.

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    15. Rachel: you should rent "Magic in the Moonlight" (yes, Carissa, with Colin Firth -- you should watch it too). The lead is an INTJ with zero social skills, which of course makes him hilarious in a really cringe-worthy way. I've found a range in them -- the INTJ women have better social skills and more tact but the guys can be... blunt. To say the least.

      Carissa: I probably wouldn't mind a guy who played video games in his time off, provided he made a decent living and was a nice guy the rest of the time. I would, however, hope that the video game lost its luster in comparison with ... well, me. ;)

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    16. You're not going to believe this, because I kind of don't, but my library system actually has Magic in the Moonlight! They almost never have movies I want to see, so I'm kind of astounded :-) I've put it on my to-watch list.

      Now, my INTJ husband with some excellent learned (from me, ahem) social skills... has a great hatred of movies/shows where someone gets embarrassed. So I may have to watch it without him. He's very empathetic, but only to embarrassment. Which amuses me.

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    17. I hope you like it. Though I will add that some of it revolves around seances, since it's about an INTJ magician called in to debunk one ... which I know troubles some people, so I thought I'd mention it. (I watched it before loaning it to my parents, because the context is important ... but I can't say more or I'll give it away.)

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