>> Sunday, October 4, 2009
*Steps on soapbox*
This soapbox is less or a rant or a lecture to all my readers than it is a self-realization I'm going to share. The soapbox, in this instance, is marginal, but I'm allowing it because, hey, it's my blog.
Last week, I asked my readers what love was and I was surprised at the answers. This isn't to say that anyone answered "wrong" or that there was, in fact, anything wrong with the answers I received (and I appreciate the honest answers). Just that I was expecting more dreamers among my readers. I guess a blog titled "Rocket Scientist" doesn't attract that sort of reader so much.
What surprised me even more was my reaction. My reaction was not that the responses were wrong. My practical side acknowledges that they often are correct, that love, particularly as portrayed in song, story and movie, is largely stupid and highly impractical. Only second to the horrible garbage that romantic love and rape are compatible is my aversion to the notion that two people can do nothing but fight among themselves unless they happen to be tearing each other's clothes off is romance. That's love?
But, I was surprised at how dispassionate some were about love, that it was more a formula than a reality or that love shouldn't involve any vulnerability, any risk.
Now I don't need a degree in psychology to know that being entirely dependent on another person for happiness is a recipe for disaster and codependency, but, as always, I'm not sure the other extreme is preferable. Risk free love sounds cold and lifeless, safe but colorless, you know, like diet food. It's enough to keep you alive, but not enough to live for. Or, at least, that's how it seems to me.
And that may be a key element. Everyone needs to find the kind and level of love that works for them. For some, it might be something safe where they never are at risk. Who am I to say that isn't enough for someone? It might be just the kind of love they need.
Some are holding out for the fairy tale, the notion that love will be perfect and magical, inexplicable and solve all their problems. If I'm skeptical that that is likely, I'm not in a position to tell someone they need to set their sites lower. For all I know, it's happened, even if I don't find sacrificing my sense of self to an all-powerful adoration.
And I'm not talking about just romantic love. Some people sacrifice themselves to a full-out love whether it's devoting themselves to a challenged child, a faltering parent, or a community in need in a third world nation.
I guess I believe in it all. I believe that friendship and sharing core values is the key to any long-term commitment, but I also believe that love at first sight is possible. I believe that people can find one another beautiful, physical appearance notwithstanding, but that the attraction can be communicated immediately. I believe that one can be vulnerable to someone else without sacrificing oneself absolutely. I believe some souls belong together - and, yes, I believe in souls.
But I also believe there isn't one truth for everyone, that what I believe in or don't has no power over anyone else, so, when I read things I didn't want to believe, I realized they didn't negate my beliefs nor were they wrong. They were just wrong for me, not because they might not be true for me, but because I didn't want live the kind of life where I could believe that kind of love was impossible.
After all, I don't have to experience or find something for it to exist. And believing the world has unconditionally and selfless love within it makes me happier, believing some people were made to be together makes me happier. Ironically, I would not have reached that realization if people hadn't challenged my beliefs. So, I'm grateful.
Takes all kinds in this world, I truly believe. I think the world would be even worse if we were all skeptical or all pessimistic or all optimistic or all trusting. I think it takes a healthy mix. I'm a dreamer when it comes to life and writing, and a pessimistic skeptic when it comes to work and politics. And that's fine. I think the world needs both.
*Steps off soapbox*