Blockbuster romantic comedies with hunky actors and perky actresses try to convince us that love is easy. As long as we're in the right place at the right time, we'll find the one we're meant for. Then, if we endure a few miscommunications, a quirky friend or two, some kind or work problem or ex-girlfriend conflict, it'll all work out. There's a reason rom-coms end when the couple finally gets together or gets married. It's because making a movie about what it's like to love someone for a long time would border on tedium and would ultimately be classified as reality filmmaking.
Being in the thick of love is like feeling your way through a jungle, looking for a path others have told you about but that you can't quite seem to find. Sooner or later, it dawns on you that it's up to you to make your own way in order to embrace this wilderness that is love.
I think love is learned. We don't learn it cerebrally by picking up a book about rules or ways or steps. We learn it from the middle out, dropped right into the context of relationship. There is no other way to understand what love is other than to experience it deeply, truly, and overwhelmingly.
Any other way of understanding it would be shallow. Watching a movie about it, reading a blog about it, or never giving in to its pull is like staying in the kiddie pool when there's an ocean to enjoy just over the horizon. Yes, the waves are scary, but we can never understand the freedom that exists on the open water until we relinquish the security that comes with the shoreline.
Each day I'm on this voyage, I learn a little more about how to love my wife, how to love my daughter, how to love my family, my friends, and my community. I learn what's required of me. I learn what each needs from me. I learn what I need to tell the others so that they, too, can learn to love me.
It is in the tumultuous ocean of love that I find the most comfort. Sure - uncertainly abounds. But, I have an anchor I can drop at any time to ground me and give me time to pause and regroup before sailing again.
Deep down, none of us wants love that is found in only 90 minutes, wrapped neatly with a bow. We want love that scares the crap out of us but is worth the journey because someone else is in the boat with us.
If we want to learn what it's like to love, we have to push off from the harbor, lose sight of what's familiar, and learn to navigate new streams. And when we do - no matter where this trip takes us - we'll find that staying on dry land caused us to miss so much. Regardless of how this journey ends, there is no other ride we want to be on, no other place we want to go, and no other people we want to share this stage with.
Onward. To/in/with/for love.