Friday, May 20, 2005

Stop Dreaming About Love and Just Start Loving

Clay, of which God, who didn't exist, made man, who did. Such was the paradox of human life: its creator was fictional, but life itself was a fact. (Salman Rushdie, FURY)
A friend of mine has been going through the same melancholy heart ache of loneliness which I too once felt. It pangs me deeply to see people so desperate. It only goes to prove why so many people today seek companionship and fellowship by so many inadequate means. They try to be the best employee, make the most money, join the club on the hill, gain fame and fortune, try an online dating service, become part of the evening social life and join numerous others who also seek to fill that empty spot in their hearts.

Those who don't seek to fill it try to ignore it. They brush effortlessly over it, and put on their everyday mask, and they boost their egos to convince everyone that there is nothing wrong. They half convince themselves by such a well received and performed act that every single day they go about denying their true inner feelings.

I see this all the time. It saddens me to no end, but then one day I heard a sermon, of all things, by a Jewish Rabbi. He spoke about mankind’s universal desire for acceptance. We just want someone, anyone, to share our lives with. Sometimes we find them, if we are lucky enough, and other times we end up spiraling out of control losing our grasp on the true issues. Spiritual fulfillment lies hand in hand with the physical, but it is this greater acceptance, that single notion, which ignited a spark deep within me. The acceptance of being myself and being loved for who I am.

Terrorists seek power, but beyond that there is nothing but the pleasure and the rush of feeling in control. This would apparently, to anyone with a thought in their mind, appear like denial; the denial that one can't control everybody and everything. By nature mankind so often seems to go against the grain of something it cannot comprehend. Terror is irrational fear. It is the manipulation of ideas which become twisted and distorted for the cause of a few who will continuously bid for power; a never ending struggle to gain control over the uncontrollable. At one moment, I believe a man looses himself in the frenzy. Whether it is the heat of battle, the flow of a mob, or the self depression, lost within the argument or ideal itself, there is nothing in our world which can fill such emptiness in the soul. Salman Rushdie talks magnificently about other aspects of terrorism in his book “Step Across This Line,” which collects many of his nonfiction essays on the subject. I highly recommend it to anyone who has an opinion similar or even dissimilar to my own.

It takes the grace of God. And whether or not we believe, poets and philosophers have written endlessly on the subject of God. Science, even Darwinism, has settled on intelligent design theory, physics can't begin to explain it, and all the patterns continuously point us to the fact that beyond our reach, there is something greater. Yet those who can't see that what is beyond our reach is also beyond our comprehension continually attempt to classify it as other than divine, even when we are left with all of the clues like crumbs upon our plate; proof of the very existence of something awesome and divine.

So the question of belief can be scary for some. Those who are not well equipped cannot distinguish simple dogma from overwhelming faith. Those who are weak minded often confuse the two. It is always he who has a self serving desire that makes the mistake and blames the world for his error. The self hate then expands, and like a cancerous disease, it spreads because everyone who is in the same boat will feel the same remorse and inadequacy. This is what empowers haters above lovers. It's harder to love, because that would first require us to admit that we are not perfect, and open ourselves up freely for all those to see. This is the highest ideal, but the outcome is so often opposite the best possible conclusion. We clam up out of the fear of being hurt, persecuted, judged, the full weight of not understanding or being understood burdens us, and we prove our weakness by not loving. In fact, I know many people who lack the ability of love so entirely because they constantly run from it.

As for my friend who deals with a more personal experience of acceptance, I don't know what to say other than the heart and that constitution of a poet so great, that there sensitivity by nature makes them intuitive. They can see one step further down the road than most, and their hearts are capable of sharing so much love. Yet even poets wish to be accepted to some degree. Perhaps this is why so many poets come close to describing the sublime as they dabble in the rich emotional universe until they almost lose themselves to something greater. Yet I may remind the reader, that even the poet first needs to be inspired.

It is funny to me how many people are so self centered when it comes to love, or at least the ideals of love. I was the same way for a long time, skeptical about the social construct we try to classify as love. Our cynicism often begs us to classify love as a set experience, and when our experience is anything but what we have fantasized it to be, we are left let down. So many teen pregnancies happen because they want the physical connection which leads to the spiritual, but they so often are tragic situations too, because they never had it in them to carry out the self discipline needed in making the relationship work. They set aside the ability to love all together and replace it with a quick fix of physical pleasure hoping that lust will fill the deep spiritual void they are painfully aware of. Only love can fill such empty pockets and voids, and I’m afraid as long as people search in the wrong places for it, they won’t ever know the true experience of it. Love, I think, is much more than just and idea. It is a spiritual journey above all else, but so many weekend marriages and divorces of a generation make it seem but a game... a sport at best. We trivialize love so that marriage won’t hurt as much when it fails and we inevitably fail ourselves. We are left wondering why our fantasy let us down, but I must interject that perhaps we ourselves let love down. It wasn't until I stopped dreaming about my future and started working towards it that things fell into place.

This is to say, one day I woke up. This is often the best way to make one’s dreams come true. To wake up and smell the coffee and stop dreaming and so apply myself to the application of serving a deeper calling was my revelation. I realized I hadn't been serving God with all of my heart. So how could I serve a simple woman? I've ever only known to serve thyself. This was my corrupted notion of love. I became grotesque to me as my disillusionment lifted, and so I opened up to the possibility that perhaps it was in God's design that I was to be alone. Destined to loneliness may seem like a torment, but the deconstruction of my ego left me comforted. For the first time I knew there was a reason for my suffering, and I knew how to remedy it.

This I could live with, because this at least made some sense. It wasn't romantic, but it wasn't about me either. This life, this journey, what was it all about? The meaning of life, an age old question, what is the purpose of it? Unlike Hamlet, I wasn't concerned so much with asking the question then finding the answers. Time and time again I find myself coming back to the simple understanding that there must be a greater purpose. There is a purpose for our existence, and even though Nihilists, chaos consultants, scientists, cynics, and so often the self will deny there being any purpose, I know now that there is indeed a reason for the rhyme. For many people, all they can see is the evil and suffering. The incoherence and insanity which surrounds them yields to the conclusion that there couldn't be any possible purpose for the daily horrors they witness. Yet there is no escaping reason, no denying purpose, because as we all know if there was no purpose... we would not be here.

So what is this greater purpose to be? Or not to be? What is the reason we exist? Hector of Troy once said, "I have lived my life by a simple code. Honor the Gods, be true to your wife, and defend your country." Perhaps each person has a variation of this code, but this code sounds like reason enough for being. It reflects the greatest reason of all, which is LOVE. We are here to love each other, to love our brothers, our sisters, our aunts and our uncles, our neighbors and everyone under the sun. Our purpose is to be parents, and to love and honor our parents before us, and theirs before them. We are to glorify God, and walk as Christ did.

All the villainous hate in the world and the corruption of such evil tries to deconstruct the simple notion of love. To dilute the potency of love by preoccupying the mind with other emotions, this is the goal of hate’s followers. This is so apparent that it is a wonder to me why so many miss this.

So what happens when we learn the meaning of life? The purpose of being? Well, we start teaching instead of just preaching. We live our lives, and these actions become the template and model for all those to follow. Our actions become the testament, our statement, our acknowledgement to the truth of love. We become prophets to further the cause of goodness and sponsor this type of growth which betters humanity.

Knowing that God's loves spreads like a wildfire is so much more comforting in today's world of skepticism and stubborn impatience with what we can't understand. It is always easier to cave into fear, and try to separate the world and those in it, forcing them apart from ourselves. Yet the folly of prejudice lies in the simple fact that we deny ourselves the truth to see beyond our fears. We let negative emotions govern us, and this is why love is the perfect antithesis to all the bad in the world. But the choice to love is ours to make, and ours alone. Of course this decision is the hardest to make, because once we acknowledge our purpose then we are burdened by the responsibility to never fail ourselves again. Perhaps burdened isn't the fairest of terms, but we are only human, and failure is around every bend. At times self doubt is inevitable. This is why we have ‘blues music’ is it not? The question remain the same, what if I had not failed? What if I had never given up? What if I had remained strong and true to myself? It is the persistant and the brave who strive to win, who raise the bar, get back onto their horse, accept the challenge, that always have hope for a brighter tomorrow. This too shall be the crusade of love. Love will conquer and fill all the emptiness of this world one day, and we will be perplexed as to why it took us so long to find it.

On a more personal note, I too was lonely for a time. Much like my friend I desired a woman to share my love with and be loved by. I searched my entire being and I realized that in order to survive I needed to have my better half, but first I had to come to the larger realization that to wallow in what I didn't have seemed self serving.

One day I woke up and God provided me companionship in the flesh and spirit of a woman. Feeling like Adam must have when he first beheld Eve, I was overwhelmed with the awesome beauty of her, and felt indebted thanks to my savior knowing God provided my single greatest prayer.

Now that I have my soul mate, and we are together, I find that the love builds exponentially. After two years we are still madly in love. Of course we fight all the time, but how shut of from ourselves and each other would we have to be in order not to fight? Getting past the fear of being hurt was the largest hurdle. Opening myself up emotionally to another individual took a lot longer than I expected. All the times I had been hurt had left a bad aftertaste in the back of my mouth. I was constantly on guard in the first months of our relationship so that I could dodge any situation that requested me to lay down all my playing cards. Hey, I mean, it's hard being vulnerable with someone. Luckily my resistance of expressing myself was met by patience equal to none. My true love was working with me to further our intimate connection. So the moral of the story is that love takes work, and like anything else, you have to work at it for it to grow. So many people take the fictionalized or Hollywood version of love and think its instantaneous and self explanatory. That is strikes like lightening and you have your happy ever after. The truth is, it may strike, it may seep in like roots deep into the earthy soil, but the entire journey is one large learning experience, and it is never really over.

Maybe I'm not the greatest example, but I'm sure my story has a place and a time for its purpose. My mind keeps coming back to that Peter Gabriel version of the song “The Book of Love.” The book of love is full of things, including things we are all too young to know. I hope in the search for love you all look for a friend like the type mentioned in the book of Proverbs. As it states a true friend has unquenchable love that is not diminished by adversity.

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Prov. 17:17

And always know that the greater love awaits us all.

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
Prov. 8:17

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