Love as a Practice

There was a lot of attention pointed in the direction of this blog over a post last fall titled A Theory of Love.  The genesis for that post was a number of people having opinions about what my object of adoration says about me and an epiphany/raging defense of my love for perfectly imperfect people.  We’re now nearly four months on.  Four months of perfect imperfection characterized by silence, interminable arguments with myself, embarrassingly unironic renditions of drippy pop songs in the shower, and a mostly unshaken faith in the beloved.

The epiphanies are grand.  They really are.  You get this flash of clarity, like when the eye doctor flips the lens and all of a sudden the letters in front of you swim into sense and you understand everything.  But eventually your eyes get used to being able to see the leaves on the trees in detail and in reality, you’re seeing them to the same degree you were when you were blind.  There’s a metaphor in there for something, but I’m going to have to revisit that later.

The epiphany, the declaration of intent, is only part of it.  The epiphany is the result of a lot of thinking and not-thinking put under pressure until out explodes the sharp understanding of perfect clarity.  The epiphany leads to the declaration of intent.  Together, the importance of the two cannot be overstated.  They are an example of the same impulse that has you standing over the exercise DVDs at Target, except bigger and better because they’re a statement of intent towards how you approach your life and love.    But like that exercise program, the hard part isn’t done all at once.  It’s done a little bit every day.

This is why the epiphany is so seductive.  You can have an epiphany once and be done with it.  You’ve checked it off the list of things to do and you can put it behind you having accomplished a complete understanding of the thing, or at least your role and preferred approach to the thing.

Four months later, which is not much time in the trajectory of a Big Love, how am I doing after the epiphany?  Let’s just say I’m more faithful to the practice of love than I am to the promise I made of getting myself in Bond Girl shape this year.  My doing is consistent, my thinking has faltered here and there, but overall is in line with my conclusions from November.

Somehow, I come to my best conclusions over the iron, a truth that I find rather disconcerting.  Couldn’t I get myself back on track doing something better than ironing?

I don’t think there’s a secret.  I negotiate for neutrality on a daily basis.  I diagram the difference between my fears and my certainties and choose my certainties.  Most of the time.  If not on the first branch of the decision tree, then on the second or third.  I’ve had plenty of time to know this man – I’m not trying this experiment in faith on someone that I met at a club and thought was hot, I have externally verifiable data to back up my high esteem.  And at the end of the day, when I’ve got nothing left, I lean on the knowledge that I’m here because it’s where I want to be.  Having the experience of being loved and loving in this way, I’ll never settle for less again.

The epiphany had its own coltish beauty, being brand new in the world.  Living up to the epiphany isn’t so pretty.  Couple it with the state of being unemployed and it looks like walking around the house in my pajamas muttering about there being a time after this and arguing about sorting my thoughts into clearly labeled piles of fears and certainties.  I could carry the epiphany in my pocket and feel it’s certainty carry my spine straighter.  Now it’s like a constant, muttering scavenger hunt, not unlike sifting through the ashes of a house fire for scraps of poems.  I’ve got no reason to tell anyone, least of all myself, that this is the sensible thing to do.  But I’ve yet to convince myself that there’s something else I’d rather be doing.

Love as a Practice

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