Sunday, March 29, 2015


At some point, most people I know end up complaining about relationships – or a lack thereof! My single friends complain about how they can't find someone with that special je ne sais quoi. My friends in relationships bemoan their lack of freedom or passion. Does anyone ever end up finding what they're looking for in a relationship? Although most of us crave that "happily ever after," it seems as elusive as ever.

Robin Rinaldi's The Wild Oats Project seems like the perfect solution: an unsatisfied wife has a year of incredible sex with other partners – while still remaining married to her husband. It seems like the perfect compromise between love, stability, adventure, and variety. Except this story is not a glossed-over, made-for-rom-com, straight-to-DVD blockbuster. It's a real year in the life of Robin Rinaldi: candid, heartbreaking, and honest. Robin bares all (literally) and pours out her heart in this fascinating and emotional must-read.

Robin is a typical middle-aged woman who has been married for years to a husband who loves her ("Scott"). However, Robin faces a typical problem: something is missing. What is it, exactly? She and her husband still have sex regularly. Scott is tall, handsome, and still exercises regularly to maintain his athletic physique. Robin is as confused as her friends are, but she knows something is missing.

Robin initially pins the problem on children. As she gets older, Robin yearns for children more and more. Despite every imaginable plea and tactic, Scott is determined not to have a child. In fact, he gets a vasectomy. Heartbroken, it's a snapping point that jolts Robin out of her futile struggle. Pandora's Box is opened. In graphic yet intimate detail, Robin charts her progression from an inhibited, therapy-seeking professional to a woman with an open marriage who attends workshops on orgasmic meditation. Robin rents her own apartment during the week and has the best sex she has ever imagined with a slew of attractive, intelligent men (even experimenting with women as well). On the weekends, she returns to Scott, who patiently waits for her – so it seems.

Ultimately, Robin's project lasts for a year and concludes in stark realization and understanding. After her non-monogamy is over, Robin realizes is that she wasn't just unhappy with something as superficial as a lack of kids. Robin realized that she was searching for intimacy and openness, things that were just not really a part in Scott's personality. Robin's desire for children stemmed from a desire to fill the void of detachment that she felt with Scott. Robin’s year of sexual self-discovery was what really forced her look the real problem in the eye.

The Wild Oats Project is must-read for any adult (and it's definitely rated X). In our relationships and careers, we can all benefit from self-exploration by daring to ask ourselves hard questions and to make hard choices. Perhaps why Rinaldi's book leaves such a powerful impression at the end is because she reveals that even halfway through life, we don't always have it figured out, and it's okay. Life is not set and dead at 30, 40, or 50.

It's exceedingly easy to judge Robin or to say that we wouldn't make the same choices. But ultimately, the real takeaway is that it is always important to continually evaluate ourselves at every stage of the game of life. What do we want, and is there something we need to change in order to achieve fulfillment? Every day is an open slate waiting for us to make a change. The real dilemma is: are we happy with how our life is going? Like Robin, we should all take an honest look at our own lives and have the courage to take the first daunting steps towards progress. It may not be easy, but as Robin discovers, it definitely is worth it.

Mike Fan is a Chinese-Canadian classical baritone. Mike plays five instruments and speaks three languages (with a few in progress). He holds degrees in piano performance and biomedical science, but it was obvious from an early age that music would win out. On the literary side, Mike wrote 365 sonnets in his teens and writes for his poetry blog Follow @MikeZFan for Mike's adventures, musical and otherwise.

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