For much of my life I believed romantic love was a waste time. I reasoned the time I spent dating, caring, or attempting to understand men was much better spent on building relationships with my friends and focusing on myself. This Valentine’s Day I find my views have changed a lot over the past year, I see now that romantic love (just like familial love or other expressions of love) acts as a gateway into something much deeper.
I was annoyed by what I noticed in body as I fell “in love” with someone…thinking about them constantly, longing, craving, desiring. All of these things serve a valuable purpose and instead of rejecting them as invalid I notice now the importance in that phase of loving and how much it moves us towards the larger sense of the word love that we ultimately seek.
In our society we tend to think of “love” as the romantic, desiring kind what the Greeks would call “eros.” My comfort zone has been much more with the philia (friendship) and agape (spiritual/transcendent) kind of love. But Eros has a power unto its own that is worth examining. After the “Nature and Eros” course I took with Brian Swimme, I came to appreciate eros as the basic attraction between all things within the universe. In this way Eros becomes the pure gravity that holds things together. Love then is without a category or definition, just simply is…a beautiful intertwining of experiences between two beings, whether they be people or entire galaxies.
I’ll end this ode to Valentine’s Day and love with one of my favorite quotes, given to me by my friend Matt:
“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.” ~St. Augustine