Love, at least the stereotypical romantic version, is more exhausting than friendship.
The former demands constant reassurance and continuous proof, whereas the latter is a master of the give and take approach. One can cause insult to a friend - create hurt feelings or forget an invitation - and the offense will be forgotten with a shrug of the shoulders and a tilt of the mug. Conversely, to inadvertently bruise the feelings of a lover is to incur guilt and wrath, the silent hurling of emotional trip-wires. Scratch a lover and discover an adversary. Scratch a friend and they might ask for a Band-aid.
I have never quite figured out this paradox - which isn’t surprising since not a single soul in the course of human history has figured it out either - however it is still one of those ultimate truths which causes no small amount of consternation. It is one of the main reasons why I have chosen the modified hermit’s road, the path of glorious solitude intertwined with chance meetings, wonderful moments and deep friendships spread across a continent. Although it took years to understand the lesson in regard to my own life - and admittedly there have been numerous detours along the way - I did finally stumble across a compromise with my own soul. Ironically, that compromise taught me that nothing is more destructive than a compromise of convictions.
The lesson? To thine own self be true, no matter how much irritation it causes. Kindness to others is paramount, but of a somewhat penultimate nature. You see, altruism should not (cannot?) come at the expense of your own values and beliefs. Fine things need not last forever, they need only to be fine. One need not own the jewel to appreciate its beauty. I realized this fact only when I realized I had, at times, attempted to inflict that which I hate upon others. When love is based upon control, it becomes a dangerous and ugly thing.
Do not misunderstand, passion and love are wonderful things, and possibly the highest achievement of the human soul. In modern society it has become popular to reduce such achievements to what we see on the screen or read on the page. As in many aspects of life, our actions are based upon fantasy. Too often our impressions of the emotions are based upon the antics of play actors. I have probably been more guilty than most of this crime of unreal passion - the search for drama and intensity is a powerful drug - however the prize at the end of such a quest is not real. The fantasy ends when the screen goes dark and we are left with little save half a warm Coke and a butter-filled pool of un-popped corn.
Yes, passion and love are marvelous, rating second and third behind true friendships, and I view them with neither cynicism nor fear. In fact they were two of many factors which led me to live in solitude with unruly canines. Romantic love often strikes me as fraught with obsession and possession - the pressure to change, to be responsible for the life of another, to give up integral facets of personality for needless compromise. A more lasting romance, emotionally intense and far more true, is available in abundance.
I can love a mountain, forest or river, for they demand nothing save common sense. The wonders of nature defy control and provide continuous reassurance purely by the art of existing. I can love a dog (or many dogs) for it seeks nothing but friendship and kindness. It gives unconditionally, and if in a good home, receives the same. I can love the night sky and the morning sunrise, the cry of eagles, the song of wild turkeys and the gunshot snap of logs in a roaring blaze. I can love books and the music of the stars, the first snap of the line or the whirlygig sound of wings before the shotgun blast. I can love wise thoughts and good conversation, fine meals, true friends and the gentle transubstantiation of words into pictures.
I love those things that ask nothing but acceptance and respect. I love those things that burn brightly, even if but for a second, the things that shine. I love the things that do not try and change another for their own gain or security. I love the things that listen and sing and see. The other things I can live without . . . and gladly without.
There is more passion and romance in a deep and foreboding mountain valley, in the silent green of the forest, than in all the sonnets, tomes, celluloid creations and Harlequin imaginings ever created. That is what it’s all about...not the oohs, and coos and unending cries for approval.
The movie said that love means never having to say you’re sorry. That’s both a lie and a fantasy. I’d phrase it another way.
Love means never having to say you’re sorry for being yourself.