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On Love, March 5th, 2000 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: March 5th, 2000
"On Love" [permalink]
    keywords: love, relationships, life
    soapbox #: 231
    written: March 5th, 2000
    words: 2021

"On Love", an Essay

Today was the last day of university for me, not counting finals. Perhaps it's had more of an effect on me than I thought. To me, I have the feeling that it means I'm losing my innocence, in a way. Or perhaps, I'm losing my excuse for innocence. Gone are the days of being described as a goof-off college kid or a student who isn't expected to know or do everything. One also loses that special status that I've enjoyed for so long, being a youth taking part in a world primarily full of adults. (first it was the Internet, then it was web design, now it is stock trading) Thinking about it, I graduate where I began: alone. Anna filled the years in between, but I was hoping for so much more. In many ways I'm back where I started so long ago. And I'm not talking about friends. My dislike towards the notion of friendship is well-documented on this site. I'm talking about love, and the person who you wake up thinking about, daydream about all day, and fall asleep thinking about.

I'm listening to "Her Face Forms in Summertime" by Future Sound of London right now. And I could not help but reread "Nec Me Miserum Cibus Iuvaret Nec Somnus Tegeret Quiete Ocellos", a short story I wrote in '98. Yeah, it's that kind of Friday.

It's always been my plan to live a life relatively secluded, in that I wouldn't be the type who has to schmooze for a living, or who has to keep friends happy by visiting them and talking to them every once in a while. I'm not saying that that sort of lifestyle is a bad thing. It just isn't for me. But I had always relied on the hope that wherever I went and whatever I did in life, I was going to have Anna there supporting me as I would her. I think there is beauty and simplicity in finding spirit and drive (mainly in yourself, but) in your lover/companion. I do not have this support any more, and the weight of this burden crushes down upon my chest.

Furthermore, while I have plans to go to Europe this summer, to celebrate graduating from school and also to expand my experiences beyond those of this continent, I have had to deal with the impact that I'm probably going to have to go at it alone. Personally I don't care how strongly you feel about the enchanting and mesmerizing sites found abroad; when it comes down to the fact that you're going to be experiencing them alone, the colors seem less vibrant, the memories fade away faster, the world dies a little. That is my current plight.

There's a whole dialogue of quotes regarding love, the original being something to the effect of, "It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved before." The response was, "Obviously you've never been in love before." And I tend to agree with the latter. While I certainly wouldn't want to die without experiencing love, those years in between would be hellish.

I treasure the delight a woman has when she is in love. To see her glow with happiness and satisfaction, to know her thoughts are happily in place, to hear her speak with such devotion and passion about her man. I know what it's like to be the target of such emotion. I miss it like hell.

I miss the delicateness, the way a woman will grasp your head and kiss your forehead. The way she will add to you a light step and feverish patter to your heart. The way she flickers with excitement upon hearing your voice, or awaiting your arrival. I miss having someone be so proud of me, so fond of me, so relaxed with me. I miss holding hands. I miss being the most important person in the world to someone.

Let me stop you before you begin. The whole "you should find your identity in yourself, not in someone else" rap is a bunch of bullshit. Being a unique individual goes without saying, and it pisses me off, this whole "I'm my own person dammit!" rant. If my feelings were about my own lack of self-worth, they wouldn't coincide with the end of my best trading week ever (here's to many more 25% gain weeks), in which the research and studying I put in turned out to be rewarding and correct to me. There are things you do to satisfy your heart, and then there are other things which you cannot do on your own, which also satisfy the heart. You cannot make someone else love you, you cannot fashion a love to fill your heart, you cannot deceive your heart into truly loving. I am doing as much as I can for myself -- it is the missing element that troubles me.

Quite the element it is, too. Anna and I had a great thing going. It was at that point, seeing her be so appreciative and loving of me, that I realized that there really is no greater thing in life than to have that effect on someone, and to share it with them. Love is the supreme force in the mind of man, or at least I want to believe so. That someone could just die not long after a long-time spouse died, due to missing them so much, is a notion that sticks in my mind. That you could place all of your trust and loyalty and love in one other person and never be burned by it -- that is something truly remarkable. When a bird sings a sad song after its partner has died, when artists lock themselves away in their studies and write for the rest of their lives inside a melancholic view of the world, when a man sits alone at 4:30AM writing about the void he wants so much to be filled, yes, without a doubt, I think that love is the most powerful element to mankind.

The state of love today depresses me far more than anything else, including hunger, disease, oppression, and so on. There is no doubt to me that some people on this earth are truly evil, and they will always exist to make others' lives miserable. But love...love...it can be so beautiful and it can be obtained by any couple that just wants to believe in it and cherish it.

I cannot bear to watch films or read books about couples breaking up, or about partners being disloyal to each other. It actually crushes me. The mistreatment of others in love is what leads people to become the hollow, cruel people that they are. It's been said by some that behind most every soulless man lies the memory of a terrible first love.

Love has been reduced to a game of percentages, like daytrading, or sports. What are the odds that this relationship will work? Out of my friends, how many will like this person I'm dating? How many marriages end in divorce? How long do relationships usually last? At this level of support, how likely is the stock to attract buyers and jump a point or two? In this ballpark, how likely is he to hit a homer off this left-handed pitcher? It's all the same shit. Worthless shit.

Romeo and Juliet has always been a sour play to me, a play that I don't particularly wish to read about or watch. Little mistakes, and family bickering, and all the other bullshit end up destroying something wonderful, something pure: real love. We live in a world, it seems, where everyone is trying to ensure that everyone else will be less happy than they are.

I think I ask for too much. "I'm fated to become Gatsby," I remarked to a friend, in reference to one of my favorites, Fitzgerald. Come to think of it, it's not much of a surprise that I like certain things more than others. It's some subconscious thing.

Anyway. Asking for someone to drop whatever they're doing and going to Europe with me is a stretch for anyone. Who has the time? Who knows if it would work? Who needs to do other things instead? Asking for a life long full of devotion and loyalty, even though it most probably is impossible, is too much. In this day and age, maybe they are antiquated concepts held only by naive romantics who haven't gotten with the program yet. If you take chances now, you most likely get burned. I know how it is.

But, you see, I've resolved to live my life rather freely and impulsively. Now, granted, my personality is such that I will be conservative and create a rock solid foundation to leap from, but finances and career paths don't really have all that much to do with how you want to live your life, if you ask me. Sound investment, strong career; that all goes without saying. I'm talking about just going and doing something when one feels like it. It requires great resources, but that's what the whole game is about. It's about having that freedom to live life to its fullest. It's about having as few dependencies as possible. I wish to have that life, and most importantly, I wish to share that life with someone else. Not surprisingly, I have some strange respect for the Thomas Crowns and the Simon Templars. The Robin Hoods and the...Ben Turners.

The problem is that any attempts I make to reach out seem disingenuine. They seem like ploys with hidden intentions. No one takes my views on such matters seriously, because there are so many out there who would use such tactics to hurt others. There is nothing I can do about that. Our definition of the most genuine person, these days, basically involves being the most conservative, cautious person. The person afraid of being hurt, the person who will not open up to anyone. You see the stereotype everywhere now.

But I cannot be that way. I have my heart open and I accept the risk of being hurt because of it. But I've said it before and I'll say it again: I trust my heart to lead me in the right direction, and it has yet to fail me. After all, I devoted four years of my life to someone who lives thousands of miles away. One of the first questions everyone would ask was, "How do you fight the urge to cheat?" How sad.

Here's an interesting quote, modified a bit for certain reasons: "But I wouldn't have when I was 20. Women are conditioned from a very young age that guys are interested in one thing -- sex. This is a generally true statement. They spend their teenage years looking for romance and end up with some guy slobbering all over them and grabbing their tits and then telling his buddies how he had them the night before. It's humiliating, it breaks down any trust they may have retained after fathers and friends and teen girl magazines berate them. They can't enjoy sex because then they're sluts. They can't avoid sex because then they're ice queens. Really, they can't win."

As you can see, my situation is a losing proposition. Now perhaps you have a better understanding of why it all saddens me so very much. An informed heart is not always a happier one.

Days of absence, sad and dreary,
Clothed in sorrow's dark array, --
Days of absence, I am weary:
She I love is far away.

"Day of Absence"
Jean Jacques Rousseau


 
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