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Approaching a new decade includes taking stock of one's self and one's life. What's working and what isn't.
There is a wonderful exercise I learned from my brilliant colleague Eric Schneider.
Go three years into the future and describe, in the present tense, your life as you want it to be. Really go for it -- within the realm of possibility: If I say I am playing shortstop for the Yankees, it ain't gonna happen, but if I say I have a book on The New York Times best-seller list -- possible. Include every aspect of your life: home, family, health, career, travel, relationship. Write it as if it already is.
When we envision ourselves clearly in this way, we have a touchstone: Do my current actions match my goal? If not, do I really want it, or am I afraid of it?
If I am being honest with myself, the area that has me puzzled right now is relationship. Particularly my desire for a long-term one. At lunch with my ex today, he challenged me to look at what I hadn't dared to admit I wanted while we were together. I had feared that if I revealed my needs and desires, it would be too clear he couldn't meet them. I believe I was afraid the truth would end our relationship. Now that we are no longer lovers, it seems foolish not to have taken that risk.
In preparation for my next relationship, it would be useful to dare to admit what I want to myself.
What stands between me and my future man: First of all, there's my "picker" (I just heard this expression). I tend to pick men who are likely to not be there for me by reason of character, age, or geography. My resistance to intimacy and surrender in a relationship has been masked by what seems to be, on the surface, the resistance and fears of the other -- the perfect decoy for my resistance and fear.
Make me laugh.
Get my sense of humor.
Be physically fit.
Be sexually adventurous.
Be an artist or have an artist's sensibility.
Have a spiritual awareness and/or practice.
Be passionate about life, work, service, art, family ...
Have voted for Obama.
Have a career. Make a living.
Love my dog!
Be totally out and be comfortable with my visibility as a gay, HIV-positive man.
Be between 40 and 60, ideally.
Some of my list is negotiable; some is not: I can be with a man whether he is HIV-positive or not. I can't be with a man who voted for George W. Bush. I can be in an open relationship; I can't be with a heavy smoker. He can be wild; he cannot do crystal meth.
What are your nonnegotiables?
I am in my loft overlooking the river. Sophie, my Labrador, is lying on the terrace as the sun sets. I am making dinner, pasta and salad, for my partner, who is returning home from a business trip abroad. I am excited to see him and glad to have this evening in our home to catch up, connect, make love, and plan a trip to Asia for next spring.
My book, The New 60, is selling well in paperback, and I am writing not only for Advocate.com but for O magazine again, and I have a show on the Oprah Winfrey Network as the Design Shrink.
Next week I am hosting a family gathering: brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews and spouses and children and favorite cousins. It's time for us all to hang out and share our luck and love.