Such a slur of emotions.
Some people love it, some people hate it, a lot of people get engaged on this day, and a lot of people spend the day mourning the loss of love. I suppose there’s something to be said for the amount of emotion it evokes, but nevertheless, I see the “holiday” as a bit ridiculous.
A couple days ago, my boys and I were driving home and I was checking out my Facebook news feed. My brother Keith had posted a link to an article his friend Aarik had written entitled Love in the Eyes of Art. I loved his take on the subject.
The way Aarik sees it, artists (namely song writers) have three main “compartments” of love: love is a fairytale, love is a battlefield, or love is all futility or frivolity. Three extremes. And I agree. I related so strongly to his article because I’ve been in the midst of this dilemma myself.
Music, movies, books, and television shows will all have us believe that there is only one way to be in love, and that is dramatically. On the one hand there is Cinderella and her prince, who sweeps her off her feet, saves her life, and they live happily ever after. And on the other hand there’s your typical Hollywood romantic comedy that tells you that first you will fall in love, then he will hurt you, and then he will do something incredible to win you back and you’ll live happily ever after. Of course there are also the neigh-sayers who tell you that there is no such thing as love and they live the life of Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother) or a crazy cat lady. But I’m more concerned with the first two.
I first started to struggle with the notion of “my love isn’t good enough” when I heard the song ‘Bold as Love’ by John Mayer on his live CD ‘Where the Light Is.’ At the end of the song he breaks into somewhat of a rant, and the piece that sticks with me is where he says “And I don’t mean like, Roman candle, fireworks, Hollywood hot pink love. I mean, like, “I got your back”-love.” (see the entire speech referenced below**).
This strikes a chord with me because I feel like we’re always comparing ourselves to others, and our relationships aren’t exempt from that. I’ve seen relationships — decades of marriage — end, because that love didn’t look like someone else’s love. Wasn’t passionate enough. Storybook enough. Pretty enough.
I’m going to be the first person to tell you that the love in my house isn’t pretty. It doesn’t wear make-up, and most days it doesn’t even change out of pajamas. Our love has sticky floors and streaky windows. It has dirty dishes and yelling matches. It makes snarky comments and leaves dirty socks on the floor. Over and over again. But you know what? It is the most comforting thing I have ever known, and the best thing I have ever been a part of.
Now, I’m not saying we’re in the clear — that we’re never going to be at risk for that love ending — but I am saying this: I realize that love takes work. A successful relationship takes work. And what a successful relationship looks like to us may be completely different from what it looks like to someone else. What I’m trying to tell you is this: PLEASE don’t let the Reese Witherspoon movies and Tim McGraw music of this world influence the way you feel about love. Embrace what you have. And share it.
** So check it out right, I’ve tried every approach to living. I’ve tried it all. I haven’t tried every thing, but I’ve tried every approach. Sometimes you have to try everything to get the approach the same, but whatever. I’ve tried it all. I’ve bought a buncha stuff. I went “ehh, I don’t like that.” I kinda came in and out of that a coupla times.
I thought I would shut myself off. I thought maybe that’s cool. Maybe that’s what you have to do to become a genius is you have to be mad. So if you can get mad before the word genius, then maybe you can make genius appear. Right? That doesn’t work either.
And I’m in a good place. I’ve paced myself pretty well. I’m 30, I’ve seen some cool stuff. I made a lot of stuff happen for myself. I made a lot of stuff happen for myself. That’s a really cool sentence when you’re in your 20s, right? “I made it happen for myself.” But all that means is that I’ve just somehow or another found a way to synthesize love. Or synthesize soothing. You can’t get that, and what I’m saying is I’ve messed with all the approaches except for one, and it’s gonna sound really corny, but that’s just love. That’s just love.
I’ve done everything in my life that I’ve wanted to do except just give and feel love for my living. And I don’t mean like, uh, Roman candle, fireworks, Hollywood hot pink love. I mean, like, “I got your back”-love. I don’t need to hear “I love ya.” You guys love me. I love you. We got that down. But some of the people who would tell you they love ya were the last people to just have your back. So I’m gonna experiment with this love thing. Giving love. Feeling love. I know it’s corny but it’s the last thing I’ve got to check out before I check out.
– “Bold As Love (Live),” from Where the Light Is, by John Mayer