Some feelings are here today and gone tomorrow. For someone who feels as much as I do — and who can easily have great waves of emotion wash over me without warning — one of the most important lessons of life is not to get too attached to any fleeting emotion.
I can fall in love with a new idea and then get cold on it a few days later. I can hate something I’ve made and then decide two weeks later that it was actually quite good. I’ve learned not to get upset as those feelings come and go.
The only thing my mind seems to take too seriously to allow feelings to come and go is romantic love. I’ve certainly had a couple of mild infatuations which I tried to talk myself into being love, but I always really know the difference. The real proof is when my stubborn heart refuses to let go of love which isn’t convenient.
Let me tell you about a dream I had awhile back.
Wherever I was in the dream, it didn’t seem like a real place. It was more like a vast blackness with no end in any direction, and it was as though I was floating in this space. I was very aware of a painful tugging on my chest. I could feel that it was coming from what looked like a silver thread or cord that was physically attached to me near the center of my chest.
Something was pulling hard on the other end of this cord. Every pull yanked at me and seriously damaged me, so I was scared and in a lot of pain. I didn’t know what it was, but I just wanted to break the cord so it would quit hurting. It seemed quite small, so it seemed reasonable that I could just snap it easily, as you might a piece of sewing thread. But when I tried to break it, I found that it was made of something so strong that it didn’t even stretch or bend or show any effect from my efforts.
A voice from behind me said, “You can’t break that thread. It’s an unbreakable philotic cord. You will have to live with that connection in place.”
Since I know that a “philotic connection” is a fictional concept — from the science fiction novels of Orson Scott Card — I know that it had to be a metaphor, but in the dream it seemed very real. I wanted to turn and look at the place where the voice was coming from, but I knew that I wasn’t allowed to turn, because I would see God’s face if I did. I suddenly understood what the cord was.
It tied me to a woman. The voice which I identified as God was firm but kind and loving. He knew it hurt, but it wasn’t going to go away.
That sounds miserable. (It is miserable.) But I have to celebrate it anyway, as strange as that sounds.
Since I know feelings can come and go, it’s comforting that my heart is committed to some few things whether they’re convenient or not. Why do I celebrate this? Because it’s my way of knowing what’s real and what’s just passing fancy.
I don’t like hurting. I don’t like longing for love I can’t have. I don’t enjoy obsessing about what might have been. But at least I can be certain this love is real — and that’s something no one can take away from me.
I’ve never gotten over real love easily when I could no longer have it. The only thing that’s ever allowed me to get over love is finding a new love which is even greater. That’s hard to imagine now, but I have to believe there is someone out there who I can love even more — who can finally break this bond which I haven’t been able to kill on my own.
For tonight, though, I quietly celebrate something which I know is real and true and genuine. Romantic love in this world is often based on sexual attraction or social prestige or mere habit. None of those will last. None of those mean anything in the long run.
I know I have something — for now, at least — that’s as real as love can get. It might be painful. It might be inconvenient. It might leave me lonely. But it’s the kind of genuine love and connection with another heart which poets and painters and sculptors and movie characters all long for.
I can say I’ve genuinely loved with my whole heart — and I don’t think many people have experienced that. So I celebrate a warm and open and imperfect heart that’s full of love for an imperfect woman, even if it hurts for now.