Looking for Aragorn
Every one of us grows up with stories, movies, TV shows and relationships around us that form our ideas of what "a partner should be like". Maybe we got hooked on Star Wars and always sought someone like Han Solo. Maybe it was Clark Gable who burned his way into our mind. As much as we might ignore or deny the connection, the people we were drawn to with "love at first sight" wasn't random - it was based on what we had grown to think their character would be like.
For me, I grew up with the Lord of the Rings stories. I re-read them often, and on my bus rides and quiet afternoons I would spin out long, epic tales involving me, a dark haired ranger girl, and Aragorn. Aragorn was not handsome. The book explicitly says he's foul looking but fair of heart, rather than the other way around. He doesn't seek credit for his actions. He risks his life, he stands by his friends, he takes action when he sees a problem. He is an intelligent man, someone who can talk easily with low or high born. He is respected for his skills, and always takes the path of honor even if it's difficult.
When I began reading The Three Musketeers, Athos struck me in much the same way. He'd given up a life of leisure to join the musketeers. He sticks by his friends. He's smart and can keep an eye out for trouble. He's skilled. He takes action. He's not the loud one out for fame, he does what he does because it's right. Athos isn't the handsome one. He's the one you can depend on.
That's a lot of burden to put on someone you date! Not only that - how do you "find" such a guy? There's no type to look for - the whole point of Aragorn is that he is *not* an Adonis guy (despite the LOTR movies casting someone who is). You can say he's in good shape, though - he keeps himself fit so that, if there's trouble, he can easily respond. He is someone who is good with weapons, mental and physical, to defend the weak.
It then becomes a challenge to find someone who matches up with all of these traits. I suppose that's true for any quest in life to find a partner - but if your criteria are just "someone to go drinking with at night" I imagine the field is probably wider :). So I began my search.
I could find someone who was friendly, caring ... but who stole software. I'm a software developer :) That doesn't fly well. Hmmmm, someone who was tender, but who was content to stay home and have a very low-impact job. I definitely want to be out there using my energies to help others. OK, someone who was in fine shape and was a go-getter ... but who looked down on gay people and other minorities. Next, someone who loved minorities and helping people but who cheated and lied? It seemed that every time I found a man who had one of the sets of qualities, I discovered the others were lacking. I would try to make things work, but they would not.
It doesn't seem like it should be *this* hard to find a man who feels the way I do. Surely if the story of Aragorn touched me so deeply, and formed such a strong basis for my life, then the same must have happened with others as well. I think the problem in the quest comes down to how people portray themselves. A cheater will rarely list "I cheat" on a resume. Someone who does not respect minorities will rarely state that on their profile. I was talking with my sister once and she was convinced that she could tell by looking at a person's face if they were a generally good / happy or not good / sad person by looking at their face. I pointed out that someone could be completely happy torturing dogs - and their face would reflect their joy. Physical looks are not how I ever want to judge a human being. But while profile sites always show the faces, they can't show the character of the people. Only actions do that - and unless you are there watching, people will pick and choose what actions best represent the "they" they wish to portray to the world. And, ironically, the Aragorns of the world are the ones who do their deeds not for fame or fortune. So those are the ones you are least likely to hear about.
While Oprah has her name plastered all over her show and website, I doubt you'll find Lisa Shea plastered all over BellaOnline, even though we donate 40 million + charity ads every few months. It's a different point of view.
So then we have the standard dilemma, at every step of the way. Nothing will ever be perfect. Do we stay and accept the imperfections, even though the ideal seems so important? Do we try to "change" the person we're with to be better? That rarely works. Do we abandon our dreams of what we could achieve in life? Do we try to achieve them alone? While it is easy to get dates at age 16, the same is not true at 26 ... 36 ... 46 ... so the risk of change becomes greater. The risk of ending up alone grows. And maybe, after all, Aragorn is just a story.
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