Saturday, October 8, 2011

There was soap

Today is a day of introspection for those in my tribe. I have wondered since I was an undergraduate, if not before, what is the best way to spend a day dedicated to introspection, identification of failure, repentance for transgressions, and forgiveness.

I was thinking about all of the above and I was reminded of a part in a book called Love in the Time of Cholera. The book is about a young man who falls in love with a young woman and spends a lifetime trying to reach her. At first he is thwarted because they are of different social classes and her parents forbid contact. She then marries a doctor and still, from afar, the young, then older suitor, attempts to reach the woman's heart.

The author takes us into the lives of both the suitor, and the woman married to the physician. In one scene the woman and her doctor husband have had an argument. It has surfaced because of something that on the surface appears to be minor. The husband makes a comment that there is no soap in the bathtub. The wife, the object of the other man's love, has had it with her doctor husband's regular identification of what she has failed to do. She insists that there was soap. He insists (and is correct) that there was no soap.

This husband's claim does it as far as the wife is concerned. She ceases to speak to her husband, compels him to sleep in another room, and goes about her activities in the house as if he is a piece of furniture despite his entreaties to stop the nonsense.

Finally after weeks of no communication and contact, the doctor stops his wife in a hallway and says simply, "There was soap." Nothing else. "There was soap."

Subsequently, she allows him into the bedroom and begins interacting normally.

I thought of this today. What does it mean when he said, "There was soap"?

It doesn't mean there was soap. There, in fact, had been no soap. It could mean, "Look I dont like the excommunication and I'll say anything to get back to normal." But it also could mean, "I love you, we both forget the soap now and then. Our hearts are entwined. Therefore, then and always, there was soap."

So, on a day dedicated to introspection it has crossed my mind that with the right intentions, "there was soap", might be something we not only say to those we love, but to ourselves when we in fact have succumbed to being human, and have transgressed.

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