Friday, September 6, 2013
Why I'll Most Likely Never Fall in Love (and why I tend to think that's a good thing):
'Do you think so?' her eyes looked flat again.
'I don't mean fun that way. In a way it's an enjoyable feeling.'
'No,' she said. 'I think it's hell on earth.'
'It's good to see each other.'
'No. I don't think it is.'
'Don't you want to?'
'I have to.' "
- From The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
I really don't get it... this whole "Being in Love" thing.
It seems to me to be -- in concert with "having fun" -- pretty much the Holy Grail of our time... but I can't quite put a finger on what, exactly, it is. How is it distinct from "infatuation?" How is it more than just a transient, emotionally intense experience?
Here's what I think.
I think Being and Falling in Love are a religion.
I think people -- even staunchly religious people -- have in our Rational Era for the most part abandoned a purely religious sensibility, but still want (need?) something to believe in, in an every-day kind of way. So they've picked the intensely emotional experience of Falling in Love, and have imbued it with religious significance.
The problem with this is, I think, that it's a false religion.
A religion of the self.
A religion of ego.
A religion that (like all selfish, egoistic, non-transcendent endeavors) eventually loses its shine and then BAM! leaves you right back where you started, in need of another hit of that love-opiate.
I wonder if this religion -- this Falling in Love -- is inherently incompatible with the sorts of things I want to be my religion. Things like loving selflessly and unconditionally. Things like sacrificing my ego on the altar of truth. Of humbling myself. Of giving until it hurts, without thought of reward -- and then giving some more.
Falling in Love seems to me to be a sort of blindness to the faults in others. But real, unconditional love isn't about failing to see other's faults... it's about seeing them quite clearly, and then loving anyways.
Falling in Love seems to be about how somebody else makes me feel. But real, unconditional love isn't about how I feel... it's about building loving community where how everyone feels is taken into account.
What do people do when they Fall in Love?
They ignore real, significant interpersonal differences in Culture and Values.
They ignore the real-life consequences of hasty decisions, made in the heat of a moment.
They ignore other relationships, become self-absorbed, and withdraw from their communities.
They do these things, that is, until the pink clouds start to dissipate.
I dunno. Maybe I'm just making excuses for the way my overly-analytical mind seems to have made it impossible for me to have this whole "Falling in Love" experience. The truth is, I do want to be Sleepless in Seattle. I do feel the pull of Rom-Com America, and I do want to be overcome with emotion.
Like anyone else, I'd love to transcend the bounds of my daily grind. I'm just not very convinced that Falling in Love is the way to go.
I think it's a modern myth -- a mass-hallucination -- and that it's better, by far, to listen to the still, small voice of truth. To live out my love in less grandiose, dramatic ways. To love slowly, day-by-day, with honesty, humility, and grace.
I have no proof of this, and no grand assurance that this is the Truth that "will out." Perhaps that's why I don't see this pursuit of mine as a religion at all. Perhaps that's why it's little more than a quiet Hope... a desperate Faith. Cold comfort indeed, most days (especially since I kind of suck at it).
But better, I hope, than a flimsy, fiery lie.
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