Writing prompt: level Valentine’s.
When it comes to love, I can basically sum up my experience with this video:
But even as a single during this time of single awareness, I still appreciate that we have a holiday specifically devoted to celebrating love. And so, for this week’s post, I share some rambling thoughts (helped by PostSecret), on love.
We ascribe a currency to our words. If you look at a sandwich, and you say to that sandwich, “Dear god in heaven, has anything more beautiful graced our mortal earth?” then you turn to the person you love and say, “You look nice,” they will think they have all the attractive qualities of a wilted piece of lettuce.
But then imagine standing next to someone, both of you craning your necks back to see the luminous display of the aurora borealis, your own frosty breath swirling around your heads like a heavenly cloud, and this person says (behind a yawn), “Well, this is certainly above average.” And then they look at you, with a whole new expression, and say, “You look nice.” Suddenly, your face is more mesmerizing than a rainbow collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in high altitude atmosphere.
So much of what I think about love is defined by expectation, not experience. But all of us, saturated by books, movies and television’s portrayal of love, expect something of the same. We enter movie theaters separately but emerge two hours later as one, with the same experience, same guided emotions, and the same moral. A million schools teach as many curriculums, a million churches feature ten thousand sects with twenty times as many sermons—but the same movie shows in every place. And we all see it.
Daydreaming about love—in all aspects, physical and emotional—seems to be pretty common. But what about romantic daydreaming? Do you stop daydreaming once you’ve found a partner who fulfills everything you need? A daydream is a break from reality, but most of the time, my present is not so bad, but I do this anyway. Sometimes, if I have a romantic fantasy, the guy takes the place of the Subway cashier who smiled at me that day, or if I don’t have an immediate crush to fill the role, then he just becomes a faceless dark and handsome substitute.
And I wonder how damaging it is, really. Is it just a natural, healthy response to loneliness? Or a simple expression of aspiration and the desire to make things better than they are? (Or nothing—actually nothing). Or, since your daydream can be whatever you want, filled by the expectations of movies, are you setting yourself up for constant disappointment, and as a result, more loneliness?
The symbol of love is the heart. A hundred times some realist will always point that our actual hearts look nothing like the red, romantic shapes. But part of the reason this organ gets the honor of representing love is because that’s where we so often feel it, there in our chest—in the hammering pace when we feel attraction. Actually, though, it’s our blood. It makes us warmer or colder—when our heart is racing, more blood is pumped more rapidly through our bodies, an influx causes a sensation in our chest. Too little, and we lose our breath, dizzy, since less oxygen is moving through our veins. There’s no way to symbolically represent blood, except like, a squiggle? So the heart was the next logical choice.
Probably a good thing. Imagine comforting your sniffling friend. “I have broken blood,” she cries.
“Just follow your blood and you’ll do the right thing.”
“I promise, from the bottom of my blood.”
“You’re so nice, you have big blood.”
“We need to have a blood-to-blood talk.”
Loyalty is the best L-word. Better than love. The crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.
In the mid-thirties, a traveling salesman (he specialized in jeans and Western gear) walked into a shop in Trinidad, Colorado, hoping to make a sale. When he saw a stunning young woman working at the counter, he asked her out for a Coke instead. They went on a couple of quick dates before he got back on the road. He continued traveling and their courtship unfolded almost entirely by mail. They married in 1939 and remained madly in love until he died in 2001.
This is from one of his letters:
Si, dear, I just know that someday you are going to be very successful. I don’t know why, but somehow I have all the faith in the world in you. Some people go through life without having any ambition or ideas, and you are full of them. Your new idea sounds grand—much better than a fox farm or even the Trading Post and camp idea which was very good. Your idea for having a children’s wear store with a sort of Alice in Wonderland or Mother Goose set-up is just swell because it is novel, and this seems to be an age when novel ideas or anything that is just a bit “different” goes over big. BUT (there always has to be a but) an idea like this would take an awful lot of capital for it couldn’t be put over in half measures. That is the main drawback. The idea of having midgets as clerks isn’t so very practical. You might have one or two as a special attraction, and then regular clerks just petite girls. But darling I think it is a grand idea and I think you are simply marvelous for being wide-awake enough to think of it. Did you have anything definite in mind? Let me know what is what, dear.
This, to me, is the most beautiful picture of what love means. Someone always behind you saying, “That is sensational, darling.” Again, and again, until you have to believe that at least they believe it. Even when you know are not sensational. “That is the most daring and spectacular C on an exam I’ve ever seen.”
I guess you want someone to challenge you, too. Be honest with you. But lots of people will do that. How many will tell you you’re sensational? Is it so unbelievable to think that you might be so greatly admired that constant support and compliments would be genuine? It is the reassurance that you are never alone. Loyalty is the anti-Loneliness, not love, since love is contained within loneliness, like webbing between these two ideas. You can love and still be lonely.
One of the tragic ironies of life is that we all feel so separate from each other by the very feelings we have in common. The first time this occurred to me was secondhand, when someone else said, I feel like I was born another planet, delivered here by accident. And my good friend Donna told him, Well, we all feel like that sometimes.
I almost asked, “Wait, really? Everyone? Not really, though.” I knew that feeling; it was like watching a fleet of ships travel together, fast and full of purpose toward the horizon, while my dinghy of a boat was tut-tutting in another direction, passed by and unaware of the destination anyway. But it was possible no one was in the fleet of powerful, impressive ships—the thought had just never occurred to me.
“I don’t know. What love? I think it’s a habit. We didn’t have any love. We went out, we walked around. True love is only on TV. We didn’t have that. We had friendship, we lived happily, we loved each other, we shared life’s endeavors. That was our love.” – a 71 year old woman from Siberia, Russia, interviewed by 7 Billion Others.
On nearly everyone’s top five expressions of ultimate love (I have asked), you will find *~the dishes~*.
Doing the dishes is the sum of all romance, the first brick in every road to forgiveness. What is it about the dishes—I mean particularly?
Even with roommates, of which I’ve had plenty—it’s never the trash or the vacuuming that gets noticed, it’s the dishes. I now do my dishes very efficiently and well, but it’s not because I’m a particularly tidy person. Over the years, I’ve responded, like Pavlov’s dogs, to the pleasant chime of praise and affection when I do them.
It really is romantic. And so, I’m wondering, if romance isn’t really just kindness, but given a different name when considered with courtship and marriage. I feel like what I’m really saying when I say I want romance is that I’d like a steady stream of kindness in my life.
According to Theosophy, whose claims were modified by Edgar Cayce, God created androgynous souls—equally male and female. Then the souls split into separate genders, perhaps because they incurred karma while playing around on the Earth, or “separation from God.” Over a number of reincarnations, each half seeks the other. When all karmic debt is purged, the two will fuse back together and return to the ultimate.
I don’t actually believe in soul mates, mostly because I consider myself an intelligent person and intelligent people don’t believe in soul mates—despite the occasional evidence to the contrary.
Except this one time I came home after a generally awful date and I threw my purse at the wall and I figuratively screamed at the universe, “Where are you keeping the other half of my soul?! Cough him up! Where is he?!”
Or she. Does your soul mate have to be the person you’re intimate with? Discovering your best friend is a little like falling in love (so says Elizabeth Wein). Or maybe a sibling is like a soul mate. I believe there are people you’re bound to meet, who you’ve probably already met in some way before you “meet” them again, and they’re people who bring you to your own attention so you can change your life.
But do you marry them? I think sometimes, you do. But sometimes you don’t and it’s not that great a loss.
Bashert is a Yiddish word that means “destiny.” It is often used in the context of one’s divinely foreordained spouse, who is called “basherte” (female) or “basherter” (male). Nowadays, Jewish singles say they’re looking for their bashert, meaning they are looking for that person who will complement them perfectly, and whom they will complement perfectly. Since it’s considered to have been foreordained by God whom one will marry, one’s spouse is considered to be one’s bashert by definition, independent of whether the couple’s marital life works out well or not.
So yes, I do believe in soul mates, but I don’t think it’s synonymous with true love. True love you choose. For children love is a feeling; for adults, it is a decision. Children wait to learn if their love is true by seeing how long it lasts; adults make their love true by never wavering from their commitment.