Sunday’s Wisdom #169: Greater Challenge, Greater Reward

“You know, any schlub can pick up a girl at a bar. You want a challenge? Try keeping a beautiful woman happy for ten years running.”
– Peter Burke, White Collar
Season 1, Episode 10, “Vital Signs”

It’s one of those quick little quips that’s just stayed with me.

Neal Caffrey is quite a ladies man on the show. Somehow or other he is almost always tied up with some staggeringly gorgeous woman. He is a charmer, smooth as silk, quick-witted, and oh so very easy on the eyes, not to mention mysterious, deep, and a little bit dangerous in his own way. Trying to catch him is like trying to catch smoke: even when it’s curled around your fingers, it’s already slipped through your grasp and gone.

Peter Burke, by contrast, is anything but a charmer. Flirting does not come easy to him, his attempts at such being… well, humorous to behold. But he is strong and sure and steady as a mountain, with roots every bit as deep. When he commits to something, he gives himself to it wholeheartedly and unreservedly, withholding nothing, and not for just the short-term. Oh, and just because he’s not some silver-tongued charmer, that does not mean he has no romance in his soul. 😉

So, while Neal flits from girl to girl, having a good time but never finding a happiness that lasts, Peter has built an enduring happy life with his wife, Elizabeth. Ten years of marriage, and they’re still just getting started. 🙂

There’s something to that, I think. Far be it from me to tell anyone how to live their life, but it seems to me we’ve greatly misplaced our priorities somewhere along the way.

The world defines having luck with women (or men) as being able to just walk up to them in a bar (or anywhere else) and quickly charm them, especially into bed. And yet, as much pleasure as there is in that, there is little lasting happiness.

An altogether different kind of luck lies in achieving that happiness by finding someone to build it with, slowly, day by day, year by year, for the rest of our lives.

Happiness, especially in a relationship, isn’t something you can just push a button and get it instantly. It’s a huge feast, not a microwave dinner! It takes time and effort and sacrifice. It is much harder than simply picking up some attractive person at a bar or a club or whatever. But it also yields much, much more.

So, to all of the happy couples out there, all of you who have built happiness together and are committed to keep doing so, allow me to congratulate you, to thank you for your example, and to bid you a Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂

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