“Want to know how to highlight the misery of your life every day, right in front of your face?” my friend proclaimed as we drove to SEATAC airport. “Decide to write and teach about it!”
She has a point. She and I have both had some rocky patches in les affaires d’amour lately in our respective relationships, and the fact that I was going to be writing a post on love today and she was going to be working with clients in a coaching capacity was not filling either of us with glee.
“It seems like you have two options: either you position yourself as someone who’s got it all together, knows how things should work, and let people believe it while secretly knowing it’s not true…or else you do all that while *not*-so-secretly knowing it’s not true.”
“Yep,” I agreed. “I’ve made quite a nice career out of making mistake after mistake and then talking about them…”
Wuv. Twoo Wuv…
Really, though, it comes down to defining terms. What is “love”, anyway? Howard Jones songs aside, the number of definitions, books, songs, sonnets, dances, sculptures, studies, videos, tweets, and other forms of expression out there make me loathe to try and add to it. Especially since it comes down, really, to two things:
1) It’s different for everyone, and
2) When you’re in it, you know it.
So rather than try and eff the ineffable feeling of love, let’s chat a bit about those two facts.
Vive la Difference!
This is perhaps the biggest blessing of love: there’s something for everybody! Big, small, fat, tall, chubby or thin, there’s somebody who loves your form. From the most obnoxious hipster to the pollyanna who’s so friendly you just want to choke them, somebody actually finds them charming, intriguing, attractive.
Best of all, thanks to teh interwebs people can find each other. Admittedly, this can get damned inconvenient, when you find the person you love lives thousands of miles away – but at least you know you are loved! So what if you have to sell your possessions, they never loved you anyway.
Ditto for causes, hobbies, movements. I can join the Keanu Reeves Fan Club if I want to and we can huddle in our little fort and together withstand the slings and arrows of aspersion cast towards that fine thespian. There’s an old joke about the internet that all you have to do is come up with some crazy idea – like “how about a website about fictional websites mentioned on TV shows” – and poof it’s already there. If it’s not, then the barriers to putting it there are so low as to be almost ridiculous.
What this all means is that no longer do you have the excuse of “I don’t get out much” or “I don’t have access to…” or “There’s nobody who would share my passion.” Nope, unfortunately for all the introverts out there, the physical limitations of connection are pretty much nonexistent now. Instead, there’s only one way to keep from sharing love, of some kind, with others.
That’s to make the conscious choice not to love that thing, that person, that idea. If I keep my adoration of the Reeves oeuvre to myself, I can remain alone. If I choose to write my stories and my blogs and my thoughts in a notebook that I keep on a shelf and never touch…then no one will be able to resonate with me.
The fact that love is different for everyone makes life a lot harder, in some ways. It’s not simple any more. It’s complex. Sometimes complicated. Especially when you factor in the second quality of love.
“When you’re in it, you’ll know.” Don’t you hate people that say that? Especially since it’s true. It’s hormonal, chemical, and it’s a better rush than just about any drug. In fact, it’s often the drug of choice for serial monogamists, whether it’s for new relationships or new hobbies or even new religions. “New Relationship Energy” is sometimes an epithet among the polyamorous community because they have to endure the same kind of “OMG THIS PERSON IS SO KEWL AND AWSOME AND SQUEEEE!!!” with their partners over and over again. It’s much the same thing parents go through as their kids discover new hobbies, new fashions, or shop around for a major during college. The only thing that makes it close to bearable is that there is some degree of empathy – even if you don’t know for sure that you’ll be getting your own dose of NRE at some point, you can at least acknowledge the possibility.
The other reason it’s annoying is because the reverse is not necessarily true; when you don’t know it, you may still be in it. Life is complex and distracting and doesn’t always leave time to enjoy the love you’re in the way you’d hope. Sometimes things get taken for granted, sometimes they get de-prioritized, sometimes the NRE will dissipate and in the vacuum you wonder if there’s something really there any more.
Figuring that out takes work, and who has time for that when it’s so much easier to tweet and facebook and then go watch Mad Men? That’s a great show full of sad people denying the hollowness of their lives; they’re so much worse off than any of us, and that makes it easier to ignore the love we do – or don’t – have.
No, unfortunately the reverse of “when you’re in love, you know it” is actually more along the lines of the classic blues “…don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” Or maybe even that line from Prince:
Love, it isn’t love, until it’s passed…
“What’s the point?” you may be asking yourself by this point, almost a thousand words in. Happily, I can shrug my shoulders and say “I dunno! What do you think is the point?” because I fall into that latter category my friend talked about. I don’t have it all figured out, I don’t have it all together, and I’m quite public about it.
In fact, I’ve tried starting a sentence with “What I do know is…” and frankly, I can’t seem to find anything to finish it with.
What I do know is, whatever the trouble and confusion and effort and pain involved in your love…it’s worth it. Love is a joy, and joy lasts long after the love itself may fade.