I can’t have him and it doesn’t matter why because sometimes the lessons we walk away with are the defining moments, worth framing.
Life doesn’t read like a deep and transfixing novel, thick with plot and pinnacle. We have collectively placed milestones such as college, marriage, children and retirement to fill our lives with purpose and direction but the truth is that an entire life can rarely be framed to portray the complex beauty found in the works of Homer, Shakespeare or Jane Austen.
It is life’s smaller moments, those moments that are unexpected, sometimes light and beautiful and other times heavy and painful, which can be framed. Those extraordinary moments known only by the one experiencing them. In those small moments an entire novel can be extracted. In those moments we experience a taste of divinity amongst the mundane and only a handful of wise people have made history with their ability to explore those moments.
Virginia Woolf used stream-of-consciousness to perform literary miracles. She had a sharp sense of the rich composition found in otherwise ordinary experiences and in focusing the lens, her readers were made privy to those human moments that are oft ignored despite being universally common. Woolf knew that extraordinary is found within the framework of the heart and that while the heart is often exploited, it is rarely explored.
Exploring the heart requires a person to look beyond the emotions to discover what’s hidden behind them. Countless people have fallen prey to idealism which causes a person to be governed by emotion rather than by the mind and while the notion of following one’s heart is dreamy, emotion is highly deceptive and if I have learned anything it is that one does not know the meaning of life until they have experienced a love governed by the mind.
In this man who I can’t have, I have discovered the sanctity of mental companionship, only possible through the sacredness of non-exploitation. Similar to friendship, this sort of relationship enriches one’s life through authentic, platonic conversation. Unlike friendship, it pushes one to desire the full possessive experience.
In this man I saw a mirror. In his mind, I saw all of the simplicities and complexities of myself, a realist and a dreamer, understanding and understood. I desired to know him in his youth, not to change natural events but rather to know him without restriction and to show him the capacity of selfless love and unconditional acceptance. My admiration for him was planted purely in the character of a man who had not become bitter by the struggles of his life; a man unaware of his immeasurable value. Wholly good and wholly deserving of the purest, nurturing affection.
When I realized how good this person was, I could see nothing else. I wanted him to understand his value. I wanted him to understand how much love and appreciation he deserved on his own merit without superficial expectation. I would study the beauty in every subtle expression and in every shared thought and I began to desire the full experience of partnership with him. I had never been struck by so many human emotions at once and I was left dumbfounded by it and though it was never able to blossom into full romantic love, it was not a fleeting emotional or lustful infatuation either as we were morally incapable of exploring what we had. More than an infatuation, what I held for him was firmly planted in mature qualities and had we been able to fully immerse ourselves in this experience I suspect it would have been beautiful and lasting. Naturally, the realization that there was no possibility of true romantic fruition was beyond painful. The end of a relationship gone bad is painful, but the end of a relationship that never was, is indescribable. Particularly when it is based in honest mental compatibility.
A connection of the mind is not deceptive. It is not governed by emotion or sexual desire, though it can enhance both. A connection of the mind requires a mutual and mature understanding of one’s feelings. A connection of the mind is what keeps two people in the heat of impossible admiration from running off on the wings of those beautiful but fleeting emotions. A mental connection is the strongest form of intimacy in a world full of guarded people and once that connection is established, there is no way to be truly satiated with any other form of intimacy. I now know that the only way to my heart is through my mind.
To be clear, a mental connection isn’t about intellect. It is not based in such superficialities. It is knowing somebody and being known by somebody on a raw level. Being vulnerable in a way that you would never be with anybody else and trusting that you won’t be thrown to the wolves. It is finding safety in somebody who is equally capable of understanding the importance of connecting with your mind and being patient in the times when the other is incapable of processing their thoughts. It is knowing their fears and their dreams and wanting nothing other than to experience them together, without pretense or demand. I have experienced this trust and now I can’t look at life the same way.
I have seen the world through the eyes of this sacred almost-lover and I have craved to know him completely. I have wanted to know the intricacies of his heart and to shield it. I have wanted to know what makes him laugh without reserve and to laugh with him. I have wanted to know his touch. Now I mourn the loss of this almost-lover as I try to make sense of this experience. Life seems stale without him and while I know that I will be able to look back on him one day with a simple memory of what was, for now all I see is him.
I have suffered the fear of stagnation. Of settling into something sub-par for the sake of loyalty. Of forfeiting true connection. I have suffered the fear of never knowing this feeling again. I have experienced these highs and lows and it has been excruciating. But then I see a deep beauty because without this experience I would not know this newly expanded capacity for hope. Hope that life can be full. Hope that perhaps my feelings of dissatisfaction are not without good reason. Hope that those love stories we read about are not just stories. Hope that Virginia Woolf was right to see full beauty in those experiences that weren’t fully beautiful because perhaps this experience is fully beautiful despite being impossible. Maybe this taste of potential fulfillment isn’t life’s way of taunting me, but rather life’s way of awakening me.
Like a flower unpicked, I have explored this experience and now I walk away knowing that its beauty will continue to bless me. I look forward to love. To giving love and receiving love on my terms. To falling in love with a person’s beautiful mind. To looking at my partner and never losing that sense of gratitude that somebody so evolved would choose to walk life with me. To being loved without condition. To feeling safety in somebody who views life as an open book, ready to explore it. This is a defining moment for me and I choose to trust it. I owe everything to this man who has awakened me without exploiting me. The world is full of this selfless love and I must partake.
So I take pen to hand and try to frame this moment. Like Shakespeare’s dedication to Mr. WH or Poe’s ode to Annabel Lee, I see all of humanity in this moment. A labor of love. A labor of gratitude.
Life doesn’t consist of perfect poetic diction but this moment knows the beautiful prose of my speech and is no less significant than those moments of mad inspiration that drove William Blake and Lord Byron into the dark abyss of unapologetic romanticism.
This beautiful man, who I can’t have, has given me more than I knew was possible. He has removed this skeptic’s heart and replaced it with one that knows the capacity of a life well lived and he is worthy of being storied.
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