Love Wears Many Masks
The River Of Life Is The River Of Love
Look around you. In any single day, you will see people who are in various stages of love. Some are madly in love with each other, some are falling out of love, there are some who are in the beginnings of a love affair, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who are living with broken love. Simple observation? But, look deeper. It really is not that simple once you have lived a few years. Love is a river that never ends, running shallow at times, running deep at others, turning, twisting, slowing, speeding, forced powerfully into the confines of a canyon, then relaxing wide and lulling through a broad and verdant valley. And through all of its journey, love, like that river, has an end to which it flows. But that end...ah, that elusive end...is where love has been tamed, harnessed, enjoyed for what it was meant to bring, and that is peace, true peace, in the soul.
In the human heart, there is a genetic code that makes all of us prone to the need of the company, the closeness, of someone else. That “need” for another person, or persons, will vary with each of us. On a scale of one to ten, some of us need very little companionship. These are the “Tens,” more self-fulfilled and less needy. Then there are those at the other end of the spectrum, the “Ones,” and these people cannot live without constant companionship. The “Tens” are often wrongly called “self-absorbed,” and the “Ones” are often called “needy,” but there is actually much more to it than a simple description as the scale I just utilized here. Most of us fall somewhere in between these two extremes, and the balance that renders a person somewhere in that healthy and popular middle zone takes years of practice and introspection.
Approval Of Others
It is human nature to desire approval from someone whom we deem to be superior to our own selves in some way. Maybe they have a beautiful face, one that we think is superior to our own, and we just want them to look at us with that beautiful face of theirs and smile with the same look of “want” that we are trying to hide within our own hearts. We seek within the other person that which we find missing within our selves, and we seek in the other that approval that validates our own value. When we gain their approval of us, we psychologically convince ourselves that we have, therefore, finally been elevated in worth. While it is a false construct, because our true self-worth is determined from within, not from without, this is the simplest construct of love. But, love wears many faces. There is the face of young love, the beginning of experiencing this euphoric sensation. There is mature love, that which comes from having been in love with the same person for many years and no longer needing daily validation from the other person to feel that we, ourselves, have worth. And there is the greatest level of love, that which comes when we have learned to love ourselves sufficiently to be able to exist without the need of the approval of others. Arriving at this last and highest level is the destination of that river I mentioned at the beginning. It is where the river empties into the ocean, where all that contributed to the river in its journey becomes mixed with the vastness of all that is, all that has been, and all that shall ever be.
Sex Is Sex, Love Is Love
When we are young, we discover the distraction of sexual desire, and this new discovery adds another dimension to our pursuit of what we think is love. Now, it is no longer just a face, no longer just a smile, nor just a kind act of consideration, but an arousal that occurs within the glands. Someone once facetiously said that, when these glands are aroused, the oxygen leaves the brain. And this is where foolish people begin to equate sex with love...but it is not. Sex is sex, love is love. The two do indeed mix, but love will always be the supreme factor that determines all. Obviously, sex without love is possible, and love without sex is possible...both are extremes. But, while love without sex can still be rewarding, sex without love is an empty world. I have often said that when the sex is over, what do you have? All relationships have to ask this question, because if your “love” is foolishly built on what sexual pleasure the other person gives you, then what do you do when the sex is over? There are twenty-four hours in a day, and even a champion athlete has to rest at some point. Do you have anything else in common with the person with whom you have been having sex? When people are pursing a sexual partner, they ignore all other things, but when the sex is over, there eventually comes a time when those “other things” start to rear their heads and speak...some very loudly. And this is where I see so many miserable couples living together in spite and bitterness. They married for sex, not love, and back to what I said earlier, when the sex is over, what do you have? Real love stays at this point, false love takes a train.
You Are In Charge
Here are the clinical facts. Sexual desire, whatever level we become accustomed to, never ceases. One does not out grow the desire. People who discover the joy of sex will spend the rest of their lives remembering how good it felt to be with their favorite sexual partner, and anything, or anyone, that rekindles that emotion will cause desire to whisper in our ears. What we do with that whisper is called wisdom, maturity, valor. There was once a famous British politician who was rather portly, and to whom a journalist asked an impertinent question of whether or not he still had sex. He replied that he found the position to be too ridiculous, the pleasure too fleeting and the cost too demanding, to be of any interest. Much can be read into that statement. I have encountered couples who have no sex at all, and I have encountered couples who cannot keep their hands off of each other. To each their own. No excuses are necessary, because no one should ever tell anyone whom they can love, nor should they be permitted to dictate the terms of that love. Someone once very wisely said, “Sad is the person whose happiness is measured by the permission of others.” But, never forget that love is what two consenting people agree to. Sounds simple? For some, it takes a lifetime to arrive there. Strange how some can arrive there at love’s first glimmer. But, let that be. Don’t knock yourself if it takes kissing a lot of frogs to finally find your prince. One thing is very certain, there is no rule written anywhere that says that you can only love once, that you must find your life’s love early in life, or that it will be easy. Even people who fall in love at first sight and end up living together for the rest of their lives soon discover that there is much give and take in order to make any relationship last that long.
Some people like to play games, and in every culture, and in every era of time, there have been the games of intrigue that were employed to snag a partner. A friend of mine is fond of saying that games are for kids. He is right. I believe that, when it comes to striving for love, always be honest. Say the opposite of what you mean, and you’ll get the opposite of what you want. But one should equally keep in mind that some people are best left unpursued. My great aunt use to say that the person you have to work hard to get, you have to work twice as hard to keep. Often repeated is the sage advice that, in order to have someone love you, you must first learn to love yourself. The more you try to find self-validation outside of yourself, the more needy you will be, and the lower your standards will be for a partner. It is a self-defeating cycle to look outside of oneself for validation. Whatever it takes, look inside of yourself, find something to love about yourself. Don’t find fault with yourself, but find something that you do well, and let that be the starting block for the race to the top. Everyone has faults, even the beautiful person that has caught your eye and who seems so perfect. Live with them long enough, and you will most certainly find their faults. Learning to live with the person you have fallen in love with is a lesson in life. Without the give and take, mutual respect, genuinely caring for each other, the emptiness that then results leads to a disappointment and bitterness that is sad, to say the least. But, know this, love is as perennial as the grass and the trees. No matter what our age, or what sorrows and hardships we have been through, we can still turn the corner of tomorrow and find love shinning down on us all over again. The face may be a little older, but the smile is still just as sweet.
April 9, 2017 11:48 p.m.