This is a post that I’ve been trying to write for more than a year now. I’ve started writing it, sometimes even gotten pretty far, and then scrapped the whole thing a dozen or more times. I’ve tried writing it as a poem, I’ve tried writing it as a story. I’ve attempted to write peripheral pieces, touching on this topic for a sentence or two before backing off, like a kid daring to touch a hot stove…
Love may be the topic that is written about the most in human history. It’s in nearly every story ever told. It’s the pinnacle of human emotion and it is a life-saving drug. Everyone who has ever told a story has told a story of love, some of those stories have shaped civilizations while others were forgotten forever.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons that I’ve had so much trouble writing about it. I crave a challenge, but this one may be too big. I don’t want to write a story about love only to have it forgotten. Yet I can’t seem to find the way to write a story that I’m happy with. The words escape me; whatever I can come up with doesn’t feel right when it rolls off my tongue.
I’ve felt love, plenty of times. Not the romantic sort, but the type of love that you feel for your family, your friends, your home. Thoughts of the people that I care the most about do tend to make my heart beat a little harder and my chest swell with pride. Likewise, staring at the horizon of the Sierra Nevada at any given time never fails to make me smile.
However, that highest peak of emotion, true romantic love, that has avoided me so far. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen it though. I’ve seen it in the eyes of some of my closest friends and family. I’ve seen it in the way they hold each other, the way they laugh and they cry together at the happiest or saddest of times.
This past weekend I was at the wedding of a couple of my great friends. There, I saw it again. An undeniable bond existed between them and I’m convinced that everyone in the room felt it. It was beautiful, the way that even in the midst of so many people and distractions, they could stare at each other and get lost in the bliss of the moment.
The instant that hit me the hardest was during their first dance. They had the floor to themselves, while over a hundred people watched them intently. They gazed at each other and slowly swayed back and forth. When I noticed the bride softly singing along with the song while her new husband smiled at her, both of them with their eyes glistening, I realized that even in such a crowded place, they had the ability to become utterly lost in one another. They were happily swaying in time to the music in a world that consisted of nothing but themselves, completely alone together, and everyone in the room could feel it…
We as human beings are small, we live on a tiny blue speck in a void so large that our minds can’t fully comprehend it, and our lives flash by in a fraction of an instant. Our bodies are miniscule compared to the world in which we live, which itself is miniature. And yet we’re so very much bigger on the inside…
Sloshing around inside our minds we have oceans of sorrow, continents of joy, entire planets full of anger, emotions so numerous and so large as to be inconceivable. Our minds, hearts, and souls are so full of these feelings that it seems inevitable that the tiny shells of our bodies must burst at the seams. Yet we don’t. We are truly remarkable in the capacity that we have for emotion and empathy. But perhaps nothing is as remarkable as our ability to experience the greatest of those forces within us, love.
Our lives may be short and we may be small, but the emotion that we can feel is massive. The love that we can pour in to the world is large, larger than we know, larger than we can understand. It can shape the world around us, and in so doing it shapes us. When we love someone or something, that simple and yet impossible act changes us, it never leaves us untouched.
As such, when people love each other as completely as those two on the dance floor, they shape and change themselves and each other. We begin to take on the aspects of those we love, and they take on the characteristics of us.
That being said, who we each want to be inevitably helps dictate the type of person that we fall in love with. We strive to find someone that has the traits that we desire, not only in others but for ourselves. Personally I’m attracted to people that are strong-willed, independent, ambitious, creative, and most importantly, passionate; but everyone craves something different, whether it’s something they feel they are missing or something they simply want more of.
Perhaps along the way you’ll pick up some facets to your personality that you weren’t expecting and you’ll change in ways that you never could have guessed. That’s what makes it all so unpredictable and chaotically beautiful. The greatest love stories involve people that were great before, when they were alone and separate, and once they find each other they become something monumental.
As I said, I haven’t found that true romantic love yet, maybe someday it will happen, but I’m in no rush. Watching the newlyweds this past weekend and being around them and the other couples I know that share that undefinable connection has confirmed some of what I believe love to be.
Most importantly, this has shown me that I still don’t have the words to adequately describe that level of emotional connection, but that words are far from the only way to give it a voice, they may not even be a very good way to do so.
Love can heal, it can cure, and it can give us everything at the times that we think there is nothing. It’s truly a remarkable thing, and no matter what brain chemistry or psychologists say, I don’t believe it will ever truly be explained or defined. It is sublime.