Monday, August 02, 2004

An afternoon conversation got me thinking about the nature of love and why it seems so elusive to some people. Do we try too hard to find love, do we overanalyze situations, do we lack a sense of commitment, are we constantly plagued by uncertainty so we never recognize it even when it hits us in the face? Or are we just looking for love in the wrong place? Perhaps it's all of the above.

Or perhaps there is no love to be found in the first place?

Before you get up in arms and accuse me of pessimism, nihilism or worse, let me explain. After today's conversation it occurred to me that love and life might not exist on the exact same timeline but that love is always one step or more slower than life. The reason why people can't find love is because they are looking for it in the present when love can only be found when we look backwards into the past. It is in our memory that we recognize if the things done for us, words said to us, gifts given to us were done, said or given in love or for some other reason. Time would have proven the worth of the gesture.

What other reasons could there have been? At the time of doing, saying or giving, there is always a nagging suspicion (that varies in intensity) that there could be ulterior motives or misunderstanding behind the gesture. We worry that when we receive a token of affection, the giver could have just meant to be polite, or was confused, or under some kind of pressure, or they could be really out to take advantage of us. So within the moment there are too many suspicions, too many doubts to be able to see love for what it is.

As a relationship sustains itself and as it matures, we can look back and over time realize that, as we grow old together, the love we sought has been there all along. Love is clear in hindsight; love follows us through our lives, and it is pointless to pursue because it never exists in our future (or even in our present) but rather in our past.

So, the harder we chase after love, the more frustrated we get. Love isn't for the impetuous, the impatient or the ungrateful. It is the privilege of those who have maintained strong relationships over the long-term. So appreciate those who are close to you today, and know that love is there even if you can't see it.

So ends the sermon of the day.

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