If you are trying to control love or fit it into your life, says Mark D. White, don’t bother. Let it change you.
These days we often hear the same advice with respect to so many things: moderation. Eat, drink, exercise, watch TV, spend money… all in moderation. The point is obvious: neither too much nor too little. Neither indulge nor abstain, but instead find balance, the middle road, the golden mean. Four out of five philosophers agree (and the fifth one probably died from excess).
Prudence and caution have no role in love. Love should not be moderated. Romance implies abandon. Romantic gestures are often absurd, the stuff of viral YouTube videos and stories you pass on to your kids and grandkids. They don’t fit nicely into schedules or budgets—and that’s the point. They’re romantic because they don’t make sense.
This goes for small romantic gestures too. Coffee in bed, a note with lunch, a “I ♥ U” text in the middle of the day—these are not things that “need” to be done or that advance some greater plan. These things show that someone took time out of his or her busy day to send you a message, that someone chose to think about you rather than any of the million other things he or she had to think about. These things don’t make sense from a rational, deliberative, planning point-of-view. And they’re very romantic for it.
Here are some more things we often say about love that reflect caution and prudence, but don’t belong in the world of love and romance:
- “Let’s slow things down.” Why would you ever want to do that? Life is short—if you find someone you like and who doesn’t run away from you, then go for it.
- “I need some time.” We all need time, but what are you possibly going to do with it that’s better than spending it with a person who makes your heart race? What are you spending that time doing, anyway? Probably wondering if you should be with this person instead of just being with this person. Spend time deliberating about your cell phone plan, not romance.
- “I don’t have room in my life for this now.” Because everything you have going on right now is so important that it doesn’t leave a second for a special someone. Because nothing that matters to you could actually mean more with someone to share it with. Because you think love is a competing priority rather than a complementary presence. It’s not either/or—it can be both, and both is great.
- “I don’t want to get hurt again.” Sure, just prolong the dull ache of loneliness instead. That’s much better. And never mind the euphoria before the pain, that doesn’t count, no, not at all. (Please.) We all know that being afraid to live is to accept death far too early—why don’t we think the same way when it comes to love?
We are so careful about everything these days—and in many ways this is good—but love and romance need an attitude of abandon. When you find love you jump in with both feet. You grab it and hold onto it for as long as it lasts. True, sometimes a love only lasts a couple months, or a couple weeks, or even a couple days. But however long it lasts, that’s time you got to spend in the closest thing to heaven that we can experience while there’s still breath in our bodies.
Don’t worry about whether love fits into your life—it will change your life.
Don’t try to manage love—just let it envelop you.
Don’t try to control love—it doesn’t work anyway!
Just embrace it.
photo: angryjuliemonkey / flickr