Thursday, May 01, 2003

love in the time of melancholy

As a younger man, thanks to the corruptive influence of unrealistic films and badly imagined books, I believed in love as a set of ideals. As I entered and left relationships here and there, I would attempt to apply the ideal to the context of what I had and always, always fail.

Because love in real life is not ideal - because you and your beloved are not ideal.

Vin, Nikki and I spoke about love as it pertained to him, and I was utterly stupefied when, unbidden, the words we've been telling him about this came from his lips. I've known Vin for years and as best friends there are many intimacies we share. But one of the most confounding things for me was the fundamental difference in our outlook in life. He held to what I (pejoratively) called "The Happy World" wherein everything would be all right, and all things worked for good, resolved themselves due to sheer hope, and every dog had his day. I lived in "Deterministic World", a different place, where unnecessary conflict and stress could be selectively dealt with, where one did not wait to move until someone else moved, and where happiness is a matter of determining what it is and it isn't and creating it - but never in a cynical way, because the world was full of wonder (like a daughter that bounces on your chest at 6 in the morning).

I learned last night that even in Happy World things did go wrong and that its inhabitants were empowered after all - to determine their happiness and self-worth where relationships were concerned. Epiphanies did not occur vicariously, but through the course of experience.

(An aside: I'm one of the worst people to ask relationship advice from. Ultimately I'll ask "If you are aware of your circumstances, why not change them?" Not because I have no empathy, but because impatience with silliness is one of my character traits. And silliness is something we can exert control over.)

Given my acceptance of the unalterable fact that life is short and precious, I'd rather squeeze what I can in terms of delight and accomplishment out of what I'm given and with the circumstances I accept. There is no time for something that both saddens and eats away time. Better to laugh and create something that can shine, however briefly, before the curtain falls and I exeunt, stage right.

This means doing something I like (workwise), creating something of worth (artwise) and being with someone who believes in me and in how I think (relationshipwise).

Overstated simplicity, yes, but think about it.


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