I have always thought that love doesn’t fit any forecasted pattern of compatibility. I never took advice from peers or opinions of “experts” as indicators for what I would carve as a definition. I have always skimmed such articles that attempt to frame who I should be with, date, marry or anything of that regard, as light-hearted reads and nothing more because love is too grand of an idea to conceptualize into a formula.
Yet my opinion changed recently. I was at a family gathering, experiencing the awkwardness that is reunions when I stumbled upon a distant cousin and we began a charade of small talk, giving each other the updates of our lives and activities. When I had summarized all I could of my banal student life, the conversation went back to her and her married life and her answer wasn’t what I anticipated.
She sighed and spoke of her new life as it too was banal and routine. She listed off life events — plans for a new house, kids in a few years — as if it was a grocery list of items to gather and collect. There was no excitement, no enthusiasm I thought someone in love would project; just a defeated acceptance of how life was to be.
I didn’t say much after to her and we parted ways after discussing more trivial life updates. Yet the rest of the evening, an uneasy feeling followed me. I felt sadness knowing that such a dim reality of love existed, but I also knew there had to be something better, a type of love worth seeking. Yet what type would that be exactly?
Writing this piece has been no easy feat. It began as a short compilation of some grand idea of love, yet never captured what I really wanted to say. While great prose is commendable, what good does it do if there isn’t any tangible takeaway? And in this context, how could I conceptualize a cliché topic like love into something fresh and compelling?
The truth is, I can’t. I can’t write something not already written or said before. I assume some will find my words as repetitive concepts already touched upon, while others may find something novel. Or maybe your perspective will be like mine was when I read similar articles on love — an understanding that these are just words of guidance and for the reader to choose to act upon.
The type of love you should seek should be rooted in personal development. One that is not habitual or routine, but a constant learning curve of new ideas and interests. The person you love should inspire you and teach new things and activities. Maybe their interests become your own or maybe they don’t, but your love for them should give you the courage to want to be better and to be curious enough to always try.
The type of love you should seek should be an endless embodiment of youthful spirit, a love that doesn’t give in to awkward quirks or failed romantic attempts. This love is entrenched in the stubborn pursuit of hope, this love always tries. It overlooks the banal arguments of the short term and the marginal pain of today. This love sees the long term investment of holding on despite hardship.
In fact, the type of love you seek should never be the source of hardship, but rather your shield from it. The person you love is your escape from the misery of life. It is someone who rectifies the madness of the world around you, and drives you sane. That’s the type of love you should seek, where the person you love makes life bearable, not painful.
The type of love you should seek values empathy, one that isn’t quick to make hasty judgments but makes the effort to understand. This love is rooted in patience and makes all the failed courtships of the past worthwhile, because unlike the predecessors, this love is not circumstantial or unrequited; it is an unwavering permanency that works with the effort of two active participants who have learned and grown to a manifest a mature understanding of love.
Above all, the type of love you should seek should be passionate, like that one Angus and Julia Stone song overcome by the melody of a harmonica. This love is selfish in its emotions but selfless in its act. This love always intends to give more than it takes.
This is the love I believe in.
It’s unguarded and raw. It’s open and blunt declarations. It’s not a game full of calculated moves and codes. This love doesn’t abide by three-day rules or momentary lapses of communication. This love is marked by candor words and gestures. This love takes your hand, spins you and kisses you day to day. This love is not spoken with sighs or listed off as a to-do list. This love and all of its life adventures are articulated with bright eyes and a gleeful enthusiasm even at old age. This love is affirmative if anything, never banal, and always so much more than a concept.