For over a decade, The Mrs has made known she wishes to be a pebble in her next life. The first time I heard it was after an inconsequential fight. Inconsequential fights are common in our marriage, something we have had more than our fair share. As common as the Aussie blowfly in summer. Flies may be annoying but at least they are necessary; they are nature’s waste recyclers. Without flies, we would be covered in poo. Birds love them, for they turn poo into food when their larvae hatch. Whereas, our fights are annoying and unnecessary. In our early years together, we once fought tooth and nail over buttons and zippers. I must have said the wrong thing, maybe bragged about the length of my zipper. It may have been 30cm long, did I insist it was 50cm instead? That is the trait of a Libran. Belonging to the air element, Librans are cerebral, charming and cool. Being of Ningbonese stock, I am also unfairly described as calculating and conniving. But, let me stay with the positives. I will leave The Mrs to tell all about my negatives. The most prized trait of a Libran, for me, is the need to be balanced. To the chagrin of The Mrs, it is not whose side I stand on but which side; it is always the side of right and truth that I choose to stand on. “You say you love me?!” “Then, know whose side to stand on!” It is so clear and simple, yet I fail dismally to please her. Before I met The Mrs, I already heard Ben E. King sing it many times. I should have learned it. Oh why did I not practise it? It is so simple. If you love a woman, just stand by her. Stand on her side, always.
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
So darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me……
But, I am a proud Libran. A balanced and just attitude, that is my strength but it is also the seed of all my troubles. The Mrs does not want me to be fair! She does not want me to be unbiased and just. It took me four decades to learn that. She just wants me to be her hero, to be on her side, whatever side of right or wrong she may be in. The Libra’s ethos is symbolised by the Scales of Justice; the one held by Themis, the Greek Goddess of Divine Law. Truth and justice are sacred to us. We proudly stand on the side of right rather than wrong. The only inanimate sign in the Zodiac, the scales are suspended to indicate the lack of action. No, do not conclude that we are indecisive! Suspension from immediate action means a Libran seeks to be fair, considerate and balanced in tackling any issues that disturb their sense of equilibrium; and that requires careful thinking. It is no wonder that some friends echo the same chorus, “You think too much!”.
The Mrs wants to be a pebble in her next life. I was distraught, dismayed and disbelieving when she said that. Maybe it was said in the heat of a quarrel. How did I drive the mother of my sons into such despair that life was no longer worth living? She unknowingly agreed to a miserable life sentence when she married me for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health for life? For four decades, the toil and the turmoil I shared with her have soiled her trust in me. The life of abundance and leisure I painted in my promise to her was just that, a promise. It did not sound far fetched from a promising young man, but suddenly, I am no longer that. The promise is still there, but that young man has long gone – withered away after many harsh Aussie summers. The promise seemed easy to make. Labor Omnia Vincit – labour conquers all. Just work hard and all our potential will be fulfilled. A Libran, I know the importance to be reliable, fair and honourable. I will surely deliver on my promise to The Mrs. A cautious bloke, I did not over-promise. There would be no excuses to disappoint her. Besides, she did not demand the moon nor the stars. Not even a gold bangle. A peaceful, happy and comfortable life, nothing outrageous, not excessive, totally doable. I want that for myself too, it really is killing two birds with one stone. No excuses not to deliver on this promise. Yet, the only promise that is guaranteed at this phase of my life is taxes and death. Maybe I can still avoid the former, with careful planning. The latter however, is a looming certainty as time no longer slowly passes by. It is no wonder she prefers to be a pebble. That is a painful realisation. It is a realisation of my abject failure. The one important person I wanted to impress – I needed to impress – would rather be an inconspicuous stone. I write with a bowed head, a heavy heart and in a remorseful mood. I had to turn off the radio. Gabriel’s Oboe played by Yo-Yo Ma was too heart-breaking for me somehow. Morricone’s creation is simply divine – beautiful and soothing normally, but tonight it drowned me with sadness. I imagined what The Mrs would see in a flashback of her life with me. It is difficult to see one’s own faults even with a magnifying glass. We tend to blur the truth with excuses – all justifications welcomed, whether real or imagined, substantial or superficial, relevant or outrageous. But it is clear she did not enjoy an easy life with me. Ambitious to carve a career in the corporate world prior to meeting me, she sacrificed her career to bring up our three sons. I did not impose it on her as a condition for us to have kids, but I do regret expressing to her my strong opinion that adults should be responsible for bringing up their own children if they plan to bring lives into this world. There were a lot of mixed emotions that followed her career sacrifice. The bonding with the children undoubtedly brought her much happiness but the loss of self esteem from a broken career and financial dependence affected her adversely. To her, I have very many more bad points than good ones. I often lamented that I have very many good points – they just are not visible to her. The more stress life threw at us, the more blind to my good traits she became. To manage life as a daughter, mother and wife, and at the same time, run a business as a partner would be challenging for anyone. I likened it to a prey being sucked dry by a spider after it had been injected with the spider’s digestive enzymes. I now understand how The Mrs would have seen herself as the prey. She was left emptied and spent. By the time we became empty-nesters, her parents had both passed away. A household of seven had become an empty nest of just the two of us. Being a pebble in a pond would be serenity and peace, and wonderfully recuperative after years of unceasing challenges. All she would want is to be left alone. To be free again. To live for herself. Perhaps she also meant to live by herself. Unthinkingly, I wanted to join her as a pebble, in the same pond if not the same creek. Presumptuously, I did not think she would mind. Recently, I shared with my friends my hope to be a pebble in my next life. They did not ask why and I did not bother to divulge my secret. Some friends decided to ridicule me for wanting to be a pebble.
“Be a pebble? Be as calm as one, lying in solitude at the bottom of a creek? Sigh.”
“Pebbles don’t make love!”
“As a pebble, you will not get to choose where you want to be! You will be where you are dropped or washed up.” That might be at someone’s outdoor dunny in a kampung.
Another sent a photo of a dirty river that has flooded its banks, to emphasise that a pebble’s existence is not all pink and rosy.
Urghhlings. Why quibble with a pebble? Just leave two pebbles alone in the creek.