Missing Love, Take 2
Joe Clark ~~ Jul 1, 2004

About 8 or 9 months ago, I wrote a wise thought about being busy with work and work travel and how it seemed to be replacing my old desires of "love and romance" with the pursuit of respectability and other generally work-related goals. The last few days, I've been contemplating my <laugh> love life just a little, and I read my wise thought from November to refresh my memory.

Now, unlike in November, I haven't had a lot of extra work-related stuff going on lately. We had a big demonstration at the beginning of June, but since then I've been doing the Cedar Rapids thing -- work the typical eight hours, and actually having time and occasion to do things with people sometimes and exercising (even exercising with other people!! amazing). Generally, it's been a good social time with a fair number of different people.

In the midst of it, though, I have this observation every once in a while that the "romantic" side of me is being pushed to the back of my mind and the back of my existence. Now, because I have in the past had an overactive sense of romance (believe it or not), it's not such a bad thing that I have been busy and been satisfied with other things -- other things that in the grand scheme of things are perhaps more beneficial to me and my community.

But, since I am writing this, you can guess that at times I miss my romantic side. Romantic in a way seems like a stupid word for it. It is sorta the combination of a love for life, a love for originality, a (to be purified) desire for people who want to spend time with me (which is a big part of it), a desire to feel some spiritually moving thing and to find a new understanding (or "experience" to use a sometimes-looked-down-upon word) of love. It is a search for a kind of "forever feeling", a feeling that I could imagine desiring for the conceivable span of eternity. So put all that together, and that's an idea of what I'm missing. Now, some of that I am continually working on in lotsa ways, but of course the romantic thing for me also involves, well, that certain half of the population known as female (I always say it so euphemistically, don't I?..as though I don't really want to admit it). That would be the part of romantic sentiment that, arguably, I don't have much control over and so can't discover much about. In a lot of ways, I still think (and here's my old self talking) that the female aspect is a key to unlocking some of the other aspects of romance, or maybe more correctly the way to focus the other disjointed of what "romance" in the general sense is about; or to put it a third way, it's about a romance that's about something real* and not just random thoughts and vicarious living. But that's an old-fashioned idea (ie, long-standing idea in my head, causing one to wonder if it's an immature idea), so who knows if it's valid or not.

* By saying real here, it sounds like I'm saying that my usual stuff in life isn't really real to me, which isn't really the case of course. Try to understand that. It's late, and this topic is a little complex, so bear with me. And I have this problem of hyperbolizing once in a while, as you probably realize by now.

Now a tough question: although I still have a desire for all that good stuff, is it really realistic? Are those vicarious, assumed results of "true love" really real, and really attainable? It seems to me that those kinds of dreams are just dreams way more times than they have a sense of reality. In my life (possibly dysfunctional I realize), most people are friendly toward me, and most people don't mind my presence, but they are also way too busy living their own lives to really pay a significant amount of attention to me (at least in the way that I mean, and you all know what I mean). To be fair, I may act the exact same way when I don't call people back or miss appointments or ignore people who might like some attention. So I'm liked, but maybe not loved. What if I am just dysfunctional though?

The even tougher question is to ask whether other people have the kind of fairy tale dreamy love that I have often thought about and striven for, the love that is mostly disjointed from the real world, a love that lives and sparkles above the cloud of all the crud of normal life, like "A Whole New World" built just for two. What I see in the lives of others, though, is that love is grounded on earth. And by grounded, I suppose I mean more "tethered to the ground" rather than "rooted for sustenance". The hot air balloon of love, shall we say, may be beautiful, but it seems mostly unable to fly. Again, let me be quick to say that I'm biased, and I don't usually look close enough to get a clear picture, and who am I to evaluate anyone else's love anyway? But I think that my ideas of "beautiful love" are "worlds apart" from typical reality, to borrow a Jars of Clay song. I can say that I can strive to make my dreamy love a reality in my life, but who am I, the inexperienced, to think I can do better than anyone else? I delude myself, right?

So, what of my youthful optimistic "love beyond measure" ideas? At the moment, they are sufficiently tucked away so as not to be of much danger. I can live my life being friends with lotsa people, doing friendly things and building a better foundation of community and stuff, and in the annoying times I can be amused rather than disgusted. And if my ideas of love and and all that idealistic stuff continue to shrivel and turn into kinda bland, less exciting, but ever-nourishing community spirit, so be it. I can always look forward to the lessons that God will teach, whether they are the lessons I want to learn right now or not. Even things that don't make sense rationally or emotionally are important lessons to learn in the grand scheme. And I suppose I can still be a romantic in spirit (maintain the search for beauty and joy and eternity in life), even if I am not given (or don't take!) the opportunity or desire to be the romantic in the earthly sense.