When I was a younger man, I had embraced the idea of finding the perfect soulmate as the way of achieving happiness. I used to believe that a joyful and meaningful life could only be found in her arms and seen in her eyes. It would be she who would make it all worthwhile.
During those years, I had abdicated all responsibility for how I created my own experience of the world and gave it to this etheric notion of love’s perfection, this elusive her that I had yet to meet. I wholeheartedly bought those magic beans sold by modern marketers promising a happily-ever-after.
“Why, darling, I don’t live at all when I’m not with you.” This idea, as expressed by Ernest Hemingway in “A Farewell to Arms”, generated a filter of longing in me that kept a full experience of living beyond reach. The desire to find this idealistic love held me back from climbing my own way up the tree of life. I was trapped in the mire of romantic delusions and couldn’t find a way out, because I really didn’t want to. The hope of that type of shared happiness was just too great.
Romantic delusions are promoted in Hollywood movies, the commercials that try to sell us things and in most popular songs. The achievement of finding romantic love as the happy ending has been imprinted into our ego-consciousness as firmly as any other contrived conditioning handed out by the powerful few, like well-worn wolf tickets. But to what end?
The state of longing and unfulfilled desire is a state more open to buying the crap that can potentially bring about that sought-after fulfillment. Contented people don’t go shopping as much as peopled blanketed in the sweet ache of yearning.
Of course, romantic love can be a glorious human experience. Who doesn’t want to feel their heart beating like a Gene Krupa drum solo to the hot rhythms of passion? Who doesn’t want their breath trapped within the gushing excitement of a kisses promise? Not a thing wrong with that, and those feelings can be a great accompaniment to a getaway weekend with a new friend or longtime lover. Worthwhile romantic love is like a delicious piece of cake. And cake is important to a quality life. But is that as far as love goes?
It’s great to be a grownup. I can eat cake for dinner every night this week if I want to. But why would I want to? It’s like staying a fourth night in Las Vegas and realizing you should have been on the morning plane going back home twelve hours earlier. We humans are not designed to eat cake for dinner every night or to enjoy a Las Vegas vacation lasting longer than two or three days.
Delusional thinking is one of the root causes of unnecessary suffering. And the delusion that we are somehow less than perfect and in need of another to fill a perceived void within us is one of the more pronounced today. There is so much emphasis placed on the shallow idea of romantic love in our society that I have to wonder about the darker side of this contrived thirst being thrust upon us. “You complete me.” Really?
For as long as we see ourselves only made whole by the attention of that special someone, that is how long we will be freely giving up our personal power to the shallower emotions. The love that is exalted in our cultural zeitgeist today has all the depth of sidewalk rain puddles and latte foam. We deserve better.
We, as humans, are designed for love. This is a foundational or natural law. More succinctly, we are love. Though it is a love much deeper and all-encompassing than any superficial, romantic notion. We are made of the same love that keeps the planets spinning and the garden growing. We are the love of creation itself! And when that love is shared, then you have booming fireworks that fill the sky!
This depth of love is the love of genuine partnership and collaboration. This is the love that is the container for the most authentic trust that a human can experience and express with another. And at the root of this love is simply, “I enjoy your company immensely!” Granted, not as explosive as, “You complete me.” But it is much more sustainable and empowering. Truly enjoying the company of another who we unconditionally trust is the greatest gift of relationship. That is the joy of life! It truly is that beautifully simple.
One of the most intimate and deeply human experiences of my life was sitting at my mother’s deathbed. Her dying process lasted about three days. And I never left her side. And my wife of twelve years never left mine, up until my mother’s heartbreaking, mysterious, and incredibly sacred final breath. And there was not a moment during those three days when I doubted that my wife would offer anything other than her best. This is the trust of a much deeper and satisfying love. This is the juiciest love on Earth! And, at the end of the day, I simply enjoy her company and she enjoys mine.
Instead of two people trapped within each other’s gaze, I picture this deeper love as two souls, standing shoulder to shoulder looking out at the vastness and stepping forward on an unfathomable journey that is this inexplicable, human existence. This is a partnership that isn’t bound by delusions but rather, empowered by the mutual goal of self-actualization within the unfolding of this awesome and mystifying life.
I believe that choosing to take on the task of consciously evolving ourselves, to discover the greatest version of ourselves that is enlivened by the great mystery of creation, is a task that is much more fun when shared. And it’s still wonderful to give or get a nice box of chocolates or to go out with your loved one for a fancy dinner with linen napkins and sparkly stemware from time-to-time. When that deeper love is present, romance truly comes into its own.
It is a good time to open up to that deeper mystery of ourselves and recognize it in those we share our lives with. We are unified within the depth of love, all of us. We are love! Long live love!
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