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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Soulmate, Myself:
The Perfect Mate

Beth and Tommy



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 Beth Rodden and Tommy Caldwell




Tommy Caldwell (born August 24, 1978) is a US American rock climber accomplished in sport climbing, hard traditional climbing, big-wall speed climbing, and big-wall free climbing. Caldwell made the first free ascents of several El Capitan routes in Yosemite National Park.

He made the first ascents of some of the hardest sport routes in the U.S., including Kryptonite with grade of 5.14c/d and Flex Luthor with a grade of 5.15a, at the Fortress of Solitude, Colorado. In January 2015, Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson completed the first free climb of the Dawn Wall of El Capitan. At the time, their 19-day ascent was considered by some as the hardest successful rock climb in history.

Caldwell and Beth Rodden married in 2003, and subsequently divorced in 2010. In 2010 he met photographer Rebecca Pietsch. They married in 2012. The couple have a son, Fitz, and a daughter, Ingrid Wilde, and live in Estes Park, Colorado.

In 2015, National Geographic called Caldwell "arguably the best all-around rock climber on the planet."The Dawn Wall, a documentary following Caldwell and Jorgeson on their free climb of the Dawn Wall, was released on September 19, 2018. The documentary was directed by Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer.





Kairissi. Each of these “perfect mate” vignettes offers a piece of the puzzle concerning the meaning of authentic romance.

Elenchus. Oftentimes, by showing us what it is not.

K. There’s a lot of that going around.

E. The author wanted us to comment on the story of Beth and Tommy - both of them, really good kids, but – they fell into common mistakes about the “perfect mate.”

K. What do we want to say about this, Elenchus?

E. I think the first thing is that Tommy is a really great person. Beth is, too, but, what Tommy accomplished is heroic. Scaling the “Dawn Wall” was considered to be impossible. Tommy spent six years planning and preparing for this super-feat. Moreover, he did this despite a serious injury, the loss of his index finger; even more, his great achievement was won in the traumatic aftermath of having been taken hostage by terrorists in Kyrgyzstan.

K. His story is inspiring.

E. I’d just like to make clear that nothing we say here could diminish the stature of either Beth or Tommy. Our purpose is to take note of, and to learn from, things they themselves, and close friends, said about their love relationship; which, sadly, ended in divorce.

K. A “no fault” divorce”; initiated by Beth.

E. Before we “perform the autopsy” to determine what went wrong, let me also say: One of the great success principles in life is that of admitting and learning from one’s mistakes, and then to move forward with greater clarity of mind and unencumbered spirit. Mistakes are our teachers. This is how we advance.

K. Beth realized that she had made a mistake in agreeing to the marriage and, success-minded as she is, refused to allow herself to remain in a relationship that was wrong for her. Contrast this with the so-common religiously dysfunctional person, mired in fear-and-guilt, attempting to “run the clock out” on a loveless or abusive marriage, lest an angry god be offended.

E. Beth respected herself enough not to continue to “play house” in a marriage that should not have happened in the first place.

K. But let’s talk about how these two stumbled into the ill-advised union. It was such an easy mistake to make.

E. It was easy because they thought they had so much in common. Both of them were accomplished athletes in the sport of rock-climbing. Further, as each of them is a fine person with a good personality, they naturally found themselves attracted to each other. And so they married.

K. It seemed at first, even to them, like a “dream marriage,” as they shared a valued avocation. They bought a house in the mountains and planned to have a family there. Who wouldn’t want that?

E. But, finally, about eight years into the marriage, Beth had to admit that there was “trouble in paradise.” There was nothing wrong with Tommy or anything like that. She just realized that what they had, even from the beginning, was not a real love bond. Feeling empty, and determining not to remain in a loveless union, she knew she had to make a change, as sorrowful as it was for both of them.

K. I think one of the most insightful comments came from a close friend, who was interviewed for the documentary. He said, to the effect: “Beth and Tommy had a lot in common. They were both very good at their sport. And it felt so good for them to find a partner as a best-friend who understood rock-climbing. But this kind of mutual helping, experience-sharing, and togetherness is not necessarily the same thing as true love.”

E. That is incredibly insightful: “not necessarily the same thing as true love.”

K. The author speaks of these things all the time. In many writings, he’s explained the fallacy of the “e-harmony” union, the notion that just because “I like baseball and beach parties, and you do, too, now we should get hitched.” This kind of shallow thinking is pure rubbish.

E. And it tripped up Beth and Tommy. You can’t find “the perfect mate” that way, even if two people score 90% on the “e-harmony” match-up quiz.

K. (sighing) But, Ellus, now we’re going to confuse our readers because we’re the ones who like to talk about “soulmate, myself,” and “the utter familiarity” and “you’re just like me.” Why don’t you sort this out for us?

E. Well… the ultimate “perfect mate” will be your Twin Soul, but not necessarily your “Twin Personality” or your “Twin Talent.” True mates will be living walking mirror-opposite similarities of each other – but this uncanny sameness will occur on the level of core being, and maybe not, or not right away, at the surface of personality.

K. Ok, but, to play “devil’s advocate” - aren’t surface traits a reflection of what’s going on below?

E. They are, or can be,  but – there’s a lot going on down below. Spirit-Guide Abu is on record to say that any person – any! – has the innate ability to rise to the top of any field of endeavor. This does not happen in our world because of lack of educational opportunity, cultural conditioning, diminished bank account, physical infirmity, and other deficits. But, in Summerland, any person, if sufficiently motivated, can excel in any field, if the requisite years of study are invested.

K. This would suggest that talent in our world is a creature of accident.

E. In a sense, this is true as, so often, the enabling means to “mine the inner riches” is lacking right now. Tommy himself became a rock-climbing ace pretty much as a fluke - only because his dad primed him for this since he was a little shaver. He was mentored for this.

K. In other words, anyone can excel at anything, if “you pay the dues.”

E. In an ideal world, that’s right.

K. Which reveals the fallacy of trying to hunt for and pick your eternal “perfect mate” on the basis of stellar “resume.”

E. Eventually, in that coming better world, we’ll all have perfect bodies and perfect resumes.

K. Ok, but let me press this question for the benefit of readers who are still wondering: We all have more undeveloped talent than we know what to do with, but, even so – I’m still not totally satisfied with this answer. What I mean is, I still like the idea of choosing a mate based on similarity and familiarity. Look at our own situation, buddy. We grew up as the classic “girl and boy next door.” Talk about things in common - you and I have so much in common: same heritage, neighborhood, religious training, schools, ethnicity, culture, I could go on. But then, I think of other kids that we grew up with, who were also raised as we were - but they’re not like you, and they’re not like me. What I’m trying to say, Ellus, is that there’s something so delicious about sharing with you so many points of common origin and similarity; but there's something else, and I don’t think it’s just because we had so much in common; we had many of those "things in common" also with other nearby kids, but we didn't want to marry any of them - and so there's a hidden factor to all this similarity.

E. Alright, what you say is important.

K. I feel closer to you because we do share all these similar things, but I think it's much more than that.

E. We don’t want to minimize the points of similarity. They are very important. It’s just that, it takes more than this to become somebody's "perfect mate.”

K. Look at it this way. Beth and Tommy didn’t have a solid basis for their love, but this doesn’t mean that Tommy would agree to be with someone who hated rock-climbing – if you see my point.

E. I do see it, but maybe he should agree. Let’s turn this around. What if that new mate who hated rock-climbing really was, at the depths, Tommy’s Twin Soul?

K. Well, I suppose that could happen. We were just talking about how our interests and abilities right now are determined and shifted about by all sorts of things outside our control.

E. This could mean that this new love for Tommy could learn to like rock-climbing.

K. Or he might suddenly see that rock-climbing isn’t the only thing in the universe.

E. There’s that, too; both parties will find themselves morphing-and-shaping to accommodate the true love affair, which will dominate their hearts and minds.

K. Ok, I said  that I love you more because we did grow up together. But not all Twins will necessarily experience that. Will they miss out on an avenue of closeness? I don’t think so. I don't think anybody, eventually, will miss out on anything.

E. And so, what that means is, if we hadn’t grown up together, we would create a new matrix of familiarity for ourselves. Over time, as we experience everything together, we would build for ourselves a new basis of commonality and shared reality.

K. Alright this is good.

E. Let’s summarize what we’ve established, with help from a phrase from Kant, one that we like to modify: A couple’s sense of oneness is enhanced by, and arises from, shared experience, but that affinity is not essentially grounded in the experience.

K. “Arises from but not grounded in.

E. All things at the surface of life are in a state of flux. This will always be true, even in Summerland.

K. We’ll always be learning new things, sharing new things.

E. But none of this shared experience can create an eternal love if it wasn’t there - at least in embryonic form - the first moment a couple lays eyes on each other.

K. "I love you, but…I hate rock-climbing."

E. Where do I sign?

K. Elenchus, before we leave, there’s one more thing that might be helpful to mention. It’s not directly related to our discussion, but it’s useful. Tommy is such a gentleman, I don’t think he’d mind if I use him as an example one more time.

E. You have the microphone, Kriss.

K. In the documentary, Tommy explains that, when Beth left, he was very devastated. He didn’t know what to do with himself. He decided, consciously so, that the best way to bury his sorrows was to embark upon the “impossible” goal of scaling the Dawn Wall. And when he said that I thought of what the great psychologists assert, as they use the phrase - repression builds civilization. By Tommy’s own admission, his motivation to create and achieve was borne of a desire to lose himself, to escape the pain of his sorrows. All this is quite understandable.

E. Let’s wish Tommy, Beth, too, and all of our readers, the very best in finding their “perfect mates,” which begins by first finding oneself.

K. I feel the need to offer one more word on the friend’s insightful comment that close companionship and great commonality is “not necessarily the same thing as true love.”

E. I don’t think anyone will mind if you make clearer the mystery of love.

K. Let me talk this out. People try to date and marry a potential mate who belongs to the same political party or religion, or has the same level of education, that sort of thing.

E. They find comfort in this, but the divorce rate is just as high among those who share the same religion or politics…

K. Or the same rock-climbing ability.

E. Well, yes.

K. I’m thinking of something the author shared with me. He was talking to a fellow who was dating two girls and was trying to figure out which one should be his match. This had been going on for a while, and the fellow was anxious to come to a decision because it’s not good to string others along, if you know what I mean. And so, in conversation with the author, the question arose, how does one make a choice or determine the right mate?

E. Will the true mate please stand up?

K. We wish it were that simple. The author explained that, first of all, it might be neither. The true mate for the fellow could be off-world, and he might have to wait until Summerland to find her. All that acknowledged, and if one of the girls were to be his good mate, this cannot be determined simply by making a choice. Choice, he said, as we learn from the great teachers, speaks to our surface perceptions, our fears and needs, the conditioning of our minds by culture, education, and the like. If you do it this way, you can assure yourself that you will get it wrong.

E. This is not really what the fellow wanted to hear.

K. Right. Instead of making a choice, one needs to allow one’s deepest soul energies to well-up from the depths, thereby leading us, finding ourselves impelled to action, one way or the other. This is not a “choice,” as such, but an accessing of one’s deepest wisdom, and our link to God. The author continued in a vein that might have been a script for Beth and Tommy: the true mate cannot be identified simply because she offers tender companionship, or comfort, or competence, or good conversation, or even biological thrill. All these can be obtained from any number of good women in the world. But there’s one gift that only the true mate can deliver: It’s the joy. The author said that when you experience this, you could never be mistaken as to its sacredness, authenticity, or uniqueness.

E. And what advice did the author give concerning how to access this perception?

K. He told the fellow that, so to speak, he was to enter his “quiet small room” and access his own deeper self concerning this matter. He needed to quiet his mind. When he did, he was to imagine being in the presence of each girl. What did it feel like? Don’t think about her fine attributes – you can’t find success here by “thinking,” he said -- just flow in the energies of her person. What is the nature of her energies, in terms of how they make you feel? Does her essential essence offer you comfort, security, companionship? – nothing wrong with these, but unless they’re subsumed by something even more important, you can know that she’s not your true mate; worse, behind these good characteristics you will sense, impinging upon your spirit, a certain "emptiness," one that will eventually lead you to existential crisis, if you were to be with her; meaning, she doesn't belong to you and, for you, her name is "Mary." The convincing test, the author said, was to discover, if at all with one of the girls, an overriding realization of joy simply to be with her, to know her, and to do all things with her in life; in receipt of this mystical revelation, you can know that she belongs to you and no one elseno more "emptiness" now, only fullness, completeness, wholeness… Ellus, would you like to add something to this?

E. Just that… when you find that true one, and the joy starts flooding in, so much so that you can't breathe or talk, it will seem like it’s all coming from her. In a sense it is, of course; but, on a deeper level, the joy is really coming from your own inner person. The true mate has the ability to unlock the hidden and long-barred recesses of the soul wherein resides the celestial joy, which is the mind of God.

K. It could be said, and with emphasis, that a definition of the true mate, and the true marriage, is one of aid to knowing oneself. She will open the doors to the true self as no other pedagogue in the universe.

E. And this is why, in the Genesis Adam-and-Eve story, Twin love is referred to as a “knowing.”