If you go to the top of the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) in Chicago, you'll have a breathtaking view of the city. You'll also have a heart-stopping look at what is 100 stories right below your feet. The Willis Skydeck has a feature that allows you to step out from the main floor, fully enclosed, and stand on transparent glass, revealing the street below. Straight down.
When you see this, your brain plays a weird trick on you. Logic says the deck is secure, that it will support your weight, and that you will not fall. But - if you're like me - your feet turn to stone anyway and it takes a while before you can take that first step onto the glass, fully supported by what's almost unseen.
But once you're out there, it's exhilarating. You stare down through your feet, seeing right trough the glass to the busy street below. In a word, you're mesmerized.
This is what happens in love. In real, heart-pounding, agonizing love, you see right through the other person. Over time, whether you live together or not, love forces you to notice habits, ticks, routines, and behaviors that you only see at a deeper level. From the top of Willis, you can get a hell of a view of a sun setting behind Chicago. It's only when you're willing to step out on the ledge that you get to see the details of the nitty gritty.
Valentine's Day and movies paint a picture of love that is formulaic at best and shallow at worst. Love boils down to chance meetings, gifts, dinner, and sex and everything is wrapped up in 90 minutes or by the time the flowers and chocolates arrive.
My friends, this is not love. It is not even close.
Love is the thing that lets you see right through to the core of the other person. It's what allows you to be vulnerable enough to let them see through you, too. It's what allows you to stand before them, as you are, hoping that they'll see through your tough exterior, past the pretty facade you put on each day to the core of who you are - your dreams, ambitions, values, prejudices, shortcomings, and weaknesses. And upon peering into you this deeply they somehow look past it all, grab your hand, and ask you to watch the sunset with them.
Your heart doesn't need any roses today. Your soul truly desires no candy or presents. It cries instead for someone who will be able to know you as well as you know yourself and upon the gaining of that knowledge will not cower at the truth. Love will also give you the strength and power to realize that two imperfect individuals can somehow make one nearly perfect couple.
Love takes your breath away, but only because you can't believe you're being supported by something so translucent and strong at the same time, holding you up when the threat of crashing to the ground is so real.