Bleachers – Shadow
“If you’re looking for the word that means caring about someone beyond all rationality and wanting them to have everything they want, no matter how much it destroys you, it’s Love. And when you love someone, you just, you don’t stop, ever. Even when people roll their eyes, or call you crazy. Even then. Especially then! You just, you don’t give up, because if I could give up, if I could just, you know, take the whole world’s advice and move on, and find someone else, that wouldn’t be love, that would just … that would be some other disposable thing that is not worth fighting for.” –Ted Mosbey
Last year, sometime just before Valentine’s Day while checking the emails in my cubicle, I got an instant message over the office communicator from the cube next to me. The lady next door was trying to advise her sister on the topic of love and she was having a problem describing what love is. What made her think to ask me about it still confounds me but she asked and helpful advisor as I attempt to be I took a breath and thought about it. I came up with the following:
“Love is when your happiness is dependent upon the happiness of another person.”
It was simple, to the point, and inherently unfair. Unfair because there is no guarantee that the person whose happiness your happiness depends upon feels the same. So it is completely possible for you to love a person who simply does not love you. It was a sobering realization, and frightening, oh so very frightening.
I guess that’s why I like Ted’s quote, because no matter how much the thought of being destroyed by love frightens me. The romantic in me agrees with Ted. If the risks weren’t that grave it wouldn’t be worth fighting for. It wouldn’t force us to fight for it. Lastly, it wouldn’t be as meaningful or rare when a person finally decides that it’s just as important to them to fight for you. That’s love.
Arctic Monkeys - Fireside
It woke upon a day of sundering, ice blue eyes framed in matted black fur
A beast thought mastered, now strains its chains
Viewing what once was rose, and seeing deception …
I stare into chocolate eyes and see my future
Forefinger to lips, I look into eyes so very similar but so much smaller
Caffeinated tonic shared, her nose crinkles at the bitterness, a tradition passed
Arm wrapped around shoulders a miniature mirror to mine,
Taught as if tension alone can hold back the tears that threaten
Passing a life’s lesson on mastering the rage
Hands entwined, wind off an ocean, the crash of waves music to a setting sun
I look into eyes edged by well-earned lines peering out over a life shared
And into my own peering out from a distant past
… It whispers of lies, truths meant for another, a means to an end
And I, a forgotten character to another’s novel
Tribute to fuel the ambition of one I was a fool to believe mine
And I reply, “Oh, but what a beautiful lie.”
Phantogram - Celebrating Nothing
“What is wrong with me?” It’s a question I’ve asked myself over and over again since my father first made me feel less than worthy of his attentions. Invariably, it seeded my formative years with a great deal of emotional doubt and introspection. Admittedly, the introspection helped to forge what has largely become my morale steel and it served as a boon to me for the most part. That was, until a family celebration ended with me staring into the furious eyes of my father while he denounced me as a son and pinned me to a garage door. At that moment there was no room for introspection, all that remained was the thought “So this is it, he’s going to kill me.”
Obviously my father didn’t go through with it and to be honest it was the only time he ever came close to being physically abusive, but he was a master of psychological abuse. To a young boy not yet out of sixth grade the intimidation was palpable, I was paralyzed. Too this day just thinking about it makes my adrenaline rush and my body shake. Morbid as it is, he did manage to kill the scared boy on that garage door.
In the hours following, I found I had an answer to the question “What is wrong with me?” it wasn’t that there was anything wrong with me, but there was something wrong with him. Something that would never let me be good enough for him, no matter how hard I tried, or good I was, or what I did to prove how much I loved him. Something was broken in my father and there was nothing I could do to fix him. He had to choose to fix himself and so, for a little while at least, I stopped asking myself “What is wrong with me?”
The next time the question would tread upon my thoughts was just out of High School. A friend and I had an argument over something trivial. So much so that I can barely remember now what it is we argued over, but I remember firmly believing, as I suppose we all do in such cases, that I was in the right. I remember discussing it with one of my best friends looking, as so many of us oft do, for validation. Instead, what I received was an annoyed look and “You know what your problem is? You are too prideful. In all the time that I’ve known you, I can’t ever remember you apologizing or admitting you were wrong about something.” The response shook me to my core.
There is something about the judgement of someone close to you, something that has the power to cut deeper than any instrument made from mortal hands. Maybe thats the nature of letting people get close to you. As comforting as the trust you place in their hands is, it can be the most lethal of weapons, an anathame you craft yourself and place into their hands. Either way, his words began an avalanche of introspection in the alps of my mind, forcing me to dig out of what I thought I was or freeze. Was I too prideful? When was the last time I’d apologized? Was being right worth a friendship? Was it worth being alone?
It was hard, swallowing my pride, and it took more out of me to do so than I thought it should, so maybe I was too prideful. Whatever the cause of the argument it certainly wasn’t worth a friendship and the thought of being alone, without friends, was terrifying. So I humbled myself, apologized, made amends, and assuaged the voice in my head screaming “What is wrong with me?”
So here I am, a month from my 30th birthday, a great career, plenty of friends, a comfortable lifestyle, nothing but opportunity ahead of me, and yet the question has plagued me for two years and a fortnight. No matter how blessed I am, no matter how much people like me, or say how great a person I am. If I am such a paragon of humanity why am I so ineffably alone? What is so wrong with me that I can’t find a person to share my life with? Maybe I’m too diplomatic, or assertive enough? Maybe the very qualities that make me a reliable, honorable, and loyal man are the same that make me too nice to be in a relationship.
Of all the innumerable answers none are more terrifying than the idea that perhaps she’s dead, or never existed to begin with, maybe there is no one for me. Maybe alone is all I’ll ever be. No statement my Father ever made has proved truer than the statement “Son, Life isn’t fair.” Why wouldn’t this statement apply to love?
More than likely this assessment is far more self-serving and melancholic than it needs to be, more complicated than it needs to be. Occam’s razor applied, what I’ve done for the past 29 years hasn’t worked therefore it’s wrong and I need to change it. There’s a flaw in the traits that make up my being which make me untenable as a partner. Perhaps the cliche that “Nice guys finish last” isn’t just so, but a fact rooted in the reality that bad men are preferable. Once they’ve all been spoken for all that’s left are the nice guys and what incentive is there to start off with them anyway when, like the last kid picked for teams on the school ground, they will accept anything.
My problem? I don’t want to be a last resort, or someone somebody settles for, I want to be chosen. But it appears that, in order to be “chosen” by the convention of the day, I should be emotionally unavailable/dysfunctional, ethically relativistic, and morally dubious. Essentially the opposite of me (though I must admit to some emotional dysfunctional as evidenced by this very longwinded article).
Anyway it appears as though I’ve had the answer all along, the conundrum I face seems to be do I change myself this time and in doing so lose what I am. Do I come to terms with the fact that I will either be someone’s last resort or resolve to be alone like some aesthetic monk?
There’s a episode of “How I Met Your Mother?” that gained a little more meaning for me after I saw the finale. Entitled “The Time Travelers,” Ted’s soliloquy at the terminus of the episode eloquently communicates my feelings. There is a part of me that wants desperately to meet my soulmate, to know who she is that I might have the greatest amount of time with her in my life. To share more sunsets, more starry nights, more arguments, before shuffling off this mortal coil. But just like Ted I will remain alone until either the fickle fates introduce us or I become something different and someone, perhaps, antithetical to the person I am now.
Minus the Bear - Fooled by the Night
To bask in the glory of us
Entwined as we are, writhing in the midst of love
Peering deep into the mirrored windows of your soul
Close enough to taste your breath
The salty sweet aroma so infuriatingly intoxicating
Exploring familiar rosy buds atop ample mounds
Resting in valleys and lost in curves
Surrounded by supple strength
Lavishing dewy fields and soft flower petals
The weight of my world rests upon glad shoulders, trembling
Unabashed to rise and willfully seeking union
Till You and I, fall before Us
Certain that all we are, or will ever be, is Ours
Upon the cliffs far above surf’s drown
Where love’s sunup grew at sundown
Rain falls beneath still pregnant sky
And I ponder answers to the why?
Dreams and hope so great began
Have dashed upon the rocks and sand
Where once was promised warm embrace
Naught but chill wind lash at the face
Frigid waters tempt rest from far below
But from the torment, I’ll not go
For burnished orange and rosy hues
Are lousy payment, for my dues
When will this sorrow cease to fret?
So that I may again view happy sunset