My friend, Dean Carson
Midlifer of the Month
Midlife, Single, and Full of Life
by Mike Bellah
"I think very rarely about being single," says Dean Carson. "My life is too busy and too full to worry about that." I first met my friend Dean 20 years ago when he was 45, and he changed forever my image of single people. I have never met a person more relationship-rich, with close friends in every age group.
Dean grew up in Olton, Texas the youngest of nine children. He hadn't really planned on being single, but a commitment to care for an aging mother kept him home until age 43. Since then, this professional piano teacher has had some close relationships, but has not yet met the woman he can see spending the rest of his life with.
According to the Census Bureau, an increasing number of Americans are single including a rising number of divorced and widowed midlifers. So I asked Dean to share with you his keys to successful singlehood.
"Attitude is the main thing," says Dean. "If you can learn to be content within yourself, then you can be single or be married either."
Attitude seems to figure prominently in all of Dean's advice. Dean says he tells recently-singled people not to look at everybody they date as a prospective spouse: "Look at them as a person within themselves and see what you can bring into their life. Don't hang your happiness on the person you are going to date," he adds. "You have to be a secure person within yourself before you bring anything to a relationship that's stable."
"There's a difference between loneliness and aloneness," Dean tells me. "If you can handle aloneness, then loneliness is not any different for a single than a married person." Dean defines aloneness as "being able to be by yourself and be content and commune with yourself."
On friends and family
Yet Dean communes with much more than himself. He contributes the broadness of his relationships to a decision he made years ago not to head-up a single's ministry in a church. "I could go out and meet single people anywhere I wanted to, but there I needed to be a part of a family--children and older people." I'm impressed with how Dean relates equally well to both the very old and very young. I think it's that he makes himself available to both groups. And speaking as a married person, most of us would enjoy doing more with singles. Perhaps singles like Dean, who are willing to reach out to whole families, will find families reaching out to them in return.
Dean says that he would not be surprised to find a wedding still in his future. He takes marriage seriously and believes it should be built on genuine commitment. "If you get married just so you can have somebody around, that doesn't mean that you're necessarily going to be committed to that person."
On the future
Dean doesn't worry unnecessarily about who will take care of him in his later years. "There will be someone there," he says. His optimism is perhaps part of what makes Dean's single life so rewarding and is reflected in his parting advice. "Be grateful," he tells me. "And count all of the good things in your life first."
I will, Dean, and I have. And friends like you top my list.
|Where to Find It at Best Years|