When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. – Marcus Aurelius
There isn’t anything quite like the feeling of being in love. It’s like the senses have attained heavenly levels. It’s like everything in life has a purpose and a focus. It’s like the world has been turned ‘on’ when you never realized it was ‘off.’ Of course, that’s when everything goes well. On the other hand, it can be perhaps the most painful, depressing, and humiliating feeling when things don’t go well. It’s like trying to come to terms with being the biggest fool in the world while trying to recover from your heart being ripped from your chest and trying to find motivation to just get out of bed.
You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving. – Anatole France
I’ve fallen in love a few times, and I always end up feeling like that fool. Then I ‘pick up the pieces,’ so they say, move on, and do it again. For years, I’ve felt like people think poorly of me because of this weakness – an adult man who can’t harness his passions. I’ve tried to laugh that shame off by saying something like, ‘Well, as far as weaknesses go, it’s not a bad one to have. Plus, I’m in good company of some of the greatest men in history.’ But deep down, it’s humiliating.
Then last night, someone said something to me that has shaken how I’ve always felt. ‘It isn’t a weakness. You are able and willing to feel what most will only ever dream about.’ After hearing that, I began to think about all the people I know, and out of all of them, to think about how many of them have truly, passionately fallen in love with someone. I was amazed at how few I’ve known and witnessed.
True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen. – François de La Rochefoucauld
I hadn’t realized it because ‘love talk’ is cheap. We see it and hear it everywhere these days. Everyone has his/her own fantasies and dreams of what being in love is like. But how many people ever actually live out those dreams? I know many people who couple up, marry, and say they are ‘in love,’ yet after the new wears off, their marriages usually end up as more of a contractual agreement with about as much romance and passion as an average day on Wall Street. The dreams and fantasies of youth fade into the ‘reality’ of adult life. Children are taught to fear romance, and entire subcultures have been built in attempts to subdue and substitute falling in love. Everything from casual hook-ups to ‘friends before lovers,’ it’s all effort to help people never feel the passion of romance, to never free fall in the bliss of love, while offering a ‘better’ way that, when tried and tested, proves too late to be a big letdown.
Yet here I am, a mid 30’s man, still feeling the pangs of love, still playing the fool. Yes, it is different from the norm. But after hearing what my friend said, I realize now that it’s not a bad or shameful different. Complete with its high highs and its low lows, I realize now that I am both willing and able to fall in love. My dreams and my fantasies are indeed still within my reach.
Every man dies. Not every man really lives. – Mel Gibson, Braveheart
I feel sorry for the people who cannot or will not know what it’s like. Trying to explain to them what they’re missing would be like a butterfly trying to explain flight to a caterpillar. I’d like to encourage my readers to not just dream about it. Do it. Fall in love. Yes, it can be very painful. And awkward. And humiliating. It can also be that most wonderful experience that the great poets and artists have tried to grasp since the dawn of time.