I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships and how intense they can be. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how there are different labels for popular types of relationships, and how certain fringe-type relationships don’t have labels and are harder to talk about, precisely.
For example, most of us have some people in our lives that we would label as family; specifically, you might have a brother or a sister, a mom and a dad, etc. There are other people that are labeled as friends. Others still labeled as partners, coworkers, girlfriends, boyfriends, etc. All these labels imply certain roles and have attached to them different levels of responsibility and intensity. If the labels are the dots, love is the line connecting them; love is a measure of how intense two labels are connected.
Now, for people labeled as lovers — people that are mentally and physically intimate with and exposed to one another, people who are absolutely and wholeheartedly honest with one another — love is (relatively) easy. I’ve experienced that kind of love. It’s awesome and in its prime, it’s effortless. You’re having sex and feel absolutely connected; lost in the union. The next day you wake up to the person and everything is easy and blissful and beautiful. Sex does that. There’s very little left to hide after sex, very little left to be discrete about; and the more often you feel connected to someone in that unique way, the more it becomes normal to feel that there aren’t any secrets anymore. You feel free and unaffected by the troubles of the world. The more frequent this kind of feeling manifests itself, the easier it is to take it for granted and less work you have to do to maintain it.
But what happens when the other person is no longer a lover? You break up? Or you get bored with the routine that once made love easy, be it in the context of a marriage or long term relationship? Then where are you? It’s easy to move into the label of ex’s at that point, but then you’ve given up on love. Love is a hell of a drug to drop cold-turkey.
Then you have to work for love. Then you have to find a way to be utterly and ultimately connected and exposed, within boundaries. The two — boundaries and ultimate connectedness — are at odds, and yet they need to be at harmony. You know why? Because the whole world is connected by love, and yet we only formally endorse the relationships labeled as “lovers”, be they our own or those of others. It’s hard work to figure out a path for love that works under other labels or in label-less relationships. Why else would we not cross into the unknown territory of love with people like our coworkers, friends, or acquaintances? Or our enemies, for that matter. We don’t do it because it’s difficult and it’s risky. You no longer have the listless, frictionless, free ride that is “the lover’s” epitaph. But fuck that. It should be manifest destiny when it comes to love.
And you know why this is important? Because there’s no such thing as “happily ever after”. People change. People die. People move on. It’s motion and it’s inevitable. Happy moments don’t freeze for later consumption. So if you’re going to make it in this world, you need to learn how to love within the boundaries of whatever hand you’re dealt.
Take this one step further.
If ex-lovers can figure out how to still love inside the context of their unlabeled existence, and in fact need to figure out how to do this, otherwise suffer the fate of eternal letdown; then who’s to say every type of relationship shouldn’t be driven by the same effort to love. Those types of relationships that lack classification, they need to be connected by love too, for your own sake, because everyone you know one day will die, until the only thing you’re left with are bitter sweet memories and other cynics. That’s not a world I want to live in. I want to know how to love those other grumpy old-minded people, too.
Love thy enemy, right? Love thy neighbor? There have been a number of pretty popular books and philosophies based around these concepts, and I’m beginning to realize why… Love people with a relentless effort. Attempt to love everyone, in whatever framework of a relationship the universe provides you with, whether the person ends up being the ying to your yang, someone who you can’t stand, or anything in between. At the very least, whatever you do, don’t purposefully hate.
An afterthought: This makes a lot more sense after having experienced a loss than it does during the bliss. So does pretty much every heartbreak song, ever…