So a few people have tried to talk to me about love and romance and how I ought to go out there and find it, and about how if I don’t it’s because I’m still hurting or am depressed or something and I’ve been trying to understand why I don’t feel a lot of urgency about this. Am I really—as they say—hurting or depressed, or unable to move on, or fearful or something? I’ve been thinking not, but then at the same time, lacking any other explanation.
Then, sometime this morning, it hit me.
It just isn’t important. Not to me, but in general. It just doesn’t matter right now, in this context. The world is such a mess—not just socially, but indeed physically, systemically. And there are billions of children to raise, including my own. And so many kinds of change are on the horizon or emerging. And my own life is likely half over or more.
It just feels like an indulgence. It feels narcissistic, like a luxury good—like pining away for diamonds and foie gras while living in the trenches at the Marne. In another time, in another way, in another life context of my own, it could feel noble and so on. But right now? Not really. Sure, it would be nice, I suppose. But to think about it much feels out of place and strange; it’s just not a priority and won’t be. It has nothing to do with anything of importance right now.
© Aron Hsiao / 2008
It just doesn’t matter. There are battles to be fought, personal and public, by all, around the globe. Romantic love between two people? Of the rom-com variety? It’s just not a good time to be worried about richly frosted cake with ice cream on the side, served in a pretty little decorative plate. Not just at the macro-scale, but even at the micro-scale, in my own life.
I just can’t get into it. I am not at that stage in life; it is something that bears little relationship to my remaining life goals and whose pursuit could well interfere with them. I’ve already been there, done that. Even the in the last instance, in my marriage, I was already beyond it in a lot of ways; “love” held nowhere near the resonance for me that it did when I was twenty. “Effective partnership” was a much more important part of the allure. Now, after my marriage? Even less resonance. I’ve had love in my life. It was cute, it was something I did, it wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t panacea, and it wasn’t even all that productive, nor did it ever result in long-term happiness, for myself or for anyone else, even during relationships and before their ends.
It’s just not what life is about. Not that kind of love. Other kinds of love? Perhaps. But romance—romance is just crushed velvet pants. Or, maybe, given how debilitating and inappropriately all-consuming it can be, romance is like a night of debauchery and overstrong drinks. So important to a twenty-something looking for adventure and identity, but not particularly tempting to someone who’s already had their decade(s) doing that—especially once they have already reproduced.
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My aging parents who have been married for nearly fifty years would no doubt argue that romance is not love, that love is more than this, and that love between couples (of the not romance variety) is part and parcel of the love that “makes the world go ’round.”
I can’t answer that. Maybe if I was in their shoes, I could, but I can’t. I can’t even evaluate it. It belongs to another time, I suspect, and another aggregate manifestation of the love between couples that no longer obtains. I think that the sort of love that they’re talking about has—to quote a popular movie—gone out of the human universe. At least for now.