Friday, August 13, 2010

What's Love Got To Do With It?

It is remarkable to me that life is as sometimes as mysterious and repetitive as it is.

Witness: Another friend, having recently gone through a divorce and with a number of children, has just rekindled a relationship with his girlfriend of almost 30 years ago. This is a thing which, if I thought about it, is too much to be believed. Ah, the power of Facebook.

Love is an odd thing. I've now in my mid-forties, and I've yet to really understand it. Some of the mysteries which I think may be esoteric:

1) What happens to the true romantic over time? At what point does that get crushed out in the word in which we live and the circumstances we confront?
2) How is it we can instantly be back in love with people we've not seen for years, while we too often sputter with the people we have been with for years?
3) What is love really? If it's a verb instead of a noun, how do prevent it from becoming a duty? And if it's a noun instead of a verb, how do you practice it?
4) How is it that people that are together have such different interpretations of what love is and how it is practiced?
5) Given hopelessly romantic me of 30 years ago or experienced, tired and exasperated (but responsible) me of today, which would I truly rather be?

All pretty questions of course and probably worth the thought I will give them on my way to work. But maybe, just for today, I'll revel in the fact that somewhere love is still working in it's mysterious way: beyond time, beyond reason, beyond geography.

Because in the end, it's sort of difficult to logically explain it anyway.


  1. As the person referenced in this post, I feel licensed to give my opinions on the author's profound questions:

    1) A romantic is more like a plush toy than a tin can - it can be crushed and rendered into submission, but under the right conditions it can indeed be brought back into form.

    2) In my case, it wasn't anything like instant... like any other relationship, it took time. Familiarity breeds contempt, and I wish I could tell you that won't happen here - but I don't see it this time. Maybe I'm naive.

    3) I've always believed that love means caring more for the conditions of the other person than yourself, which answers the rest of the question.

    4) It always amazes me that two people can see the universe in SIMILAR ways in the first place! Why is what I call "blue" interpreted by YOUR brain in the same way? If we happen to hit a particular topic from the same viewpoint, that's a miracle in my mind, especially something as complex as "love". The best humans can expect is to find mutually compatible definitions, I would think, especially as those definitions undoubtedly evolve as we do.

    5) This is a false dilemma. I'm an experienced, tired, exasperated hopeless romantic.

    Thank you, old friend, for your always profound musings.

  2. Okay, I had to go back and look at my post to check the answers against the questions....

    1) Maybe love can be more than one thing. Unfortunately, I can almost name the month and the year when something in me - that romantic - was crushed. It was years before I met The Ravishing Mrs. TB. I've never really recovered from it, a sort of thin ice section of my life I never skate on.

    2) Instant could be an overstatement, to be sure - but perhaps it would be a fair statement to say that lots of the substructure of any relationship was already in place to be built on.

    3) This is really a placeholder to keep the numbering right. No particular comment.

    4) In that case, are our interactions with others always this sort of random shot in the dark to find some level of compreshensibility? And if especially so in relationships, how do we deal with the fact that seemingly previously agreed upon definitions suddenly change in the midst of other things that don't change as rapidly.

    5) Perhaps false for you? Maybe part of what I am dealing with is the burnout of things not at all related directly to relationships but draining the life out of them. Or maybe a case of trying to find an outlet for that romantic that actually works. As I've written before, the employment opportunities for dragon-slaying bards is somewhat thin these days...

  3. Silverline9:56 PM

    As I saw the discussion below I have to say my comment will be a little unrelated.

    Every person has a tribe. One or more.

    I lost a friend today, a tear slowly falls down my face and I am thinking about what constitutes the tribe. What makes a friend to be a friend? How do you know when to trust a person?
    I was raised in a place, where people liked you for who you are. They wanted to be with you, because you either made them laugh, brought some interesting value in their lives, such as great conversations, exploration of new things and ideas, similar interest an so on. Usually your friends liked you for who you were and not for whom you were with.

    Lately I have experienced a different outlook on life, as I am losing people who I thought were my friends, as I defined based on my previous experiences.
    I made some difficult decisions and decided to start fresh at certain areas of my life. I am at peace with my decisions, and I am looking into the future with great hope for what will come. There is one thing that I didn’t anticipate, that I didn’t really take into account while giving up the person I am now for the person I can become. The one thing is how my current tribe differs from the ones I was used to and how painfully unexpected the “transition” can be. Lately, I feel like I am standing on a hill and watching my tribe disappear, it is being broken into pieces and dissipated. Every action I try to take to prevent it seems to cause more damage than help. I, as a person, haven’t changed; the only think that changed is who am I with. So, imagine, you stand on the top of your hill and the only certainty you have is who you are, what kind of a person you are, what is your value and what can you bring to the world….

    Now I realize that I need to find a new tribe, but the funny part is, that this entire experience kind of de-sensitizes you. It somewhat builds a wall around you, you are trying to hold tight to the one certainty in your current life. But this also causes you to say, either you like me for the person I am, either you want to hang out with me the way I am, or you don’t. I don’t care, because I am not going to change for you right now, I am not modifying my behavior, my values, my anything for you right now, because I can’t, there is no power left to do this, I have to stay the way I am right now for a little longer, because that is the thing I feel good about.

    So, here are some questions: What makes people take sides? Is it the comfort in that they do not have to think about what is right and wrong? And what if there is no right and wrong in a situation? Is it the ease of mind that they chose and they belong to something? What constitutes friendship, isn’t that a form of love? A different one, not the romantic adventure, but just a joy of a companionship? And what makes it disappear so rapidly?

    Just a bit of food for thought on the Friday the 13th. Let’s see what Saturday can bring.

  4. Interestingly, C.S. Lewis considered friendship to be the one great love that was undrecognized in the mid-20th Century (and it hasn't gotten any better since then). He has a whole chapter devoted to it in The Four Loves.

    It would seem to me that there are two kinds of friendships and we often confuse the two. One is the friendship of circumstance, where individuals become friends because of one or more shared circumstances largely revolving around proximity. We often become "friends" with coworkers, people in our shared interest group, or even our classmates largely because we end up spending time together and as humans we tend to form connections regardless. These are friendships which can often be enriching and sometimes even deep but often dissolve once the unifying factor- work, hobby, school - is removed.

    The other is the friendship of the heart, where friends become friends because they share at some level a heartfelt connection that transcends a particular interest or circumstance. My friends - my real friends, the ones that I connect with 30 years later and still feel that connection (wave hi, Gordon!) or those that I have maintained in that time are the ones that, for a lack of better terminology, love me for what I am internally warts and all, not what I can give to them or necessarily share with them.

    I bleed for the the circumstances you're in now. I have lost at least one friend of over 15 years, someone I considered one of my best friends - and then, over the course of about 9 months, the whole thing just melted away.

    I say just, but if I'm fair the melting had been occuring long before that, maintained only by a reintroduction of the proximity. Given normal circumstances, things would have fallen apart 2 years before they actually did. In some ways, my desperation to maintain the relationship caused me to fail to make other choices in my life which should have been made.

    One outcome of significant life decisions is the fact that not everyone elects to continue down the road with us. For me it is always unanticipated, but I think the fact that I often confuse friends of circusmtances and friends of the heart has lead me to underestmate the outcome of the change.

    The good news - if there is good news - is that the winnowing process in the end produces friends who are truly friends of the heart. If you've read my blog, you've met most of mine: Bogha Frois, Uisdean Ruadh, Cleasiche Fionnadh, Lus a' Chrom Chinn,Otis, Songbird. Some of the friendships are almost 30 years old now, some are much more recent than that - but all have that quality that circumstances have not altered.

    If I may be so bold, the good news for you is that you are going into a new direction, one that I think (my own opinion) is more in touch with your heart. This will work its way out into new friendships - friendships based not only on proximity but on shared values and goals and the heart which you show as you go about your daily life. At the risk of being insensitive, I'm excited for you - even as I am excited for Gordon in his old/new direction. I think for both of you, you have only scratched the surface of what good new relationships will help you to accomplish.


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