[2 of 6] 6 Things I Learned About Dating and Love in 2017
You know how they say Inuit people have 32 words for “snow,” because there are so many minute variations of snow to which the are sensitive?
And how Californians, likewise, have a similar number of words for “therapist”?
Well, we have one word for “love,” and it’s a damned messy word.
The Greeks had their Eros, Agape (spiritual love), Philia (deep friendship), Ludus (playful love),
Pragma (longstanding love) and Philautia, (love of the self).
We just have “love.”
Eddie Izzard has a great bit where he says that Americans say “awesome!” for everything, including for a great hot dog.
And so when Houston talks to astronauts in space and they ask what it’s like out there in the Great Void and the astronaut says “Awesome!” – the natural response of the guy at mission control is – “like a hot dog?”
We “love” hot dogs. We love House of Cards (well, we did). We love Beyonce, puppies, our parents, working out, the poetry of Rumi, the mystery of the night stars, the slumbering face of our dear lover, warm on the pillow beside us.
We busy ourselves with gadgets and to-do’s, but we live for love.
We yearn for love.
We grieve for love when it feels distant.
Have you ever been to the Amazon jungle? Vines reach out with hungry fingers for branches and errant roots and for each other.
They remind me of the outstretched fingers of lovers in the dark.
I once heard a teacher say that if we replaced the cold word “gravity” with “allurement” – we would see and feel that every body, celestial and otherwise, in the universe is “allured” to every other body.
We would awaken daily to a cosmos full of silent yearning for touch.
What about us?
Why are we humans drawn to each other for love relationships?
Sometimes it is out of fear.
Fear of being alone. Fear of social tsk-tsking. Fear of not seeming worthy of love. Fear of not experiencing that vaunted joy that people with good voices seem to sing so much about.
But something more…
I think it is fear of not experiencing this thing that calls to us as something spiritual, transcendent, not human but fixed and divine.
As Shakespeare, said it, “Love is not love/Which alters when it alteration finds.”
We want love the way people want a unitary god, something that doesn’t – that can’t – waver.
A rock on which to finally rest.
One of my favorite new friends is Ken Page, who makes the distinction between “love from deprivation” – what I call fear – and “love from inspiration.”
What is the difference?
When we meet and come to know somebody, do they hold what moves us most deeply with tenderness and care? Does the depth of their care for our inner world inspire us? Do they inspire us? He says…
“I suggest that you become fiercely discriminating about with whom you choose to spend your time. Is the person you’re dating kind? Is he or she emotionally generous (even if quietly so)? Are you inspired by the way this person lives his or her life, and by the kindness and acceptance he or she shows you? If so, you’ve found what I call anattraction of inspiration. Celebrate what you found, and do your best to nourish it. It’s a rare and precious thing.”
Or, by contrast, does the person you are dating or living with deride your ideas, our heart, those places where you feel most deeply?
Do they put on a miner’s hat and come excavate with us where you hurt, where you fear, where where your heart soars with feeling and where you feel shame and grief?
Or do they tell you that you are “too sensitive” and to “get over it””
When we “love from deprivation” – we are attracted to what the “near enemies” of love.
They almost or sometimes care. They almost or sometimes listen empathically. They almost or sometimes accept us.
They pay attention to us, but the warmth of their acceptance remains just out of reach.
Seemingly open arms, ever receding.
Page points out that “Most of us are wired to want the person we can’t really have. People who devalue us make us want to convince them that they’re wrong.”
Which was the exact backbone of the “pick up” movement led by disturbed and venal young men.
To me, in those moments when all the hurly-burly of our lightning-flash culture lulls into silence, and when our adrenaline and sexual hungers take a breather, we hear what calls us home…
And the call is actually unmistakable…
Be allured to those who are kind.
Be allured to those who accept you as you are with all your flaws.
Be allured to those who hold a vision for your greatness as you define it, not as they do.
Be allured to those who hold your heart – like a dance partner – tenderly and with care – while you dance through this world.
In Genesis, God says, “lo tov l’hiyot Adam l’vodo” – “it is not good for man to be alone.”
And voila – woman!
We often hear that we need to be independent and that the desire for love is some kind of weakness.
The desire for love from deprivation IS weakness.
But the desire for love from inspiration is sacred and, as Ken Page calls it, “wisdom.”
“Longing for love is not weakness. It’s wisdom. Numbing our loneliness is a path to a despair that plagues our entire culture. We are not meant to be alone and self-sufficient. Without lives filled with love, we wither inside. Intimacy is oxygen. We don’t need to transcend our hunger for love—we need to honor it.”
Counting down to New Years…
p.s. If you want to come explore love with me, and read and meet great authors such as Ken – adamgilad.com/smart