What is Love?

what is loveRecently (say for the past 18+ months), I’ve found myself incredibly lucky in love. I have an amazing partner who supports me and motivates me in ways I can’t describe. He’s my Moose. My Joel.

With weddings all over the place and love seemingly bouncing off the walls, it seems like something would have to crack. Unfortunately there are some friends and family of mine who have been struggling a bit lately. So, it got me thinking…

What is love?

To me, love is different things at different times. Often times we seem to mistake a crush for love, rushing into commitments and acting on desires very fast… But I think love is something deeper. In the US we seem to place a lot more emphasis on the importance of being with someone rather than the quality of life in general. A crush/love can lead us into some really odd places, but some really great places as well.

When we’re teenagers, we often think with our libidos, peer pressures and basic interests. “Do they like this band? Will my friends approve? I can’t believe they like the color purple too! It MUST be love!” Sure, your emotions are real, but really the love you feel for another when you’re 15 is kinda… “love-lite.” I’m not saying that the emotions you feel as a teenager aren’t valid, nor am I saying that you aren’t in love.  What I am saying is that love is different when you’re 15, as compared to when your 25, 45, 95… You need/want more when you’re primary concerns are more than grades and after school activities.

As young adults, we’re seemingly invincible. There’s still the chance that we might find someone- the one, but we’re more than happy to explore our freedom from parents and responsibility and… wait, what this credit card bill? Oh I can just ignore that. Love is about who I’m with now. Long term relationships can form or even several shorter term ones… I mean, think of all the people we’ll meet and all the people we’ll meet (winkwink-nudgenudge-say no more). When we’re finally free to manage ourselves, even the best intentioned person is still growing emotionally. This growth continues through and after college. And I’ll be damned if I’ve seen a single relationship that started with both parties in college survive post-college for more than a handful of years. Okay, let me rephrase that. I’ll be damned if I’ve seen a single relationship that started with both parties in college, thrive happily post-college.

As an adult, if you begin to step back and observe. You’ll begin to notice what works and what doesn’t. The fact is yes, you are in love. But the other fact is that you are in love with what you know about that person… Have you lived with them? Have you had to rely on them for anything? You are in love with what you know of that person is right now.

But…

Who they are now isn’t necessarily who they’ll be once they hit the real world.

At first you frame your vision of someone strictly based off of what they tell you. Next comes experience. You learn about them based on your interactions, your experiences. Once the glow of passion wears off (because it does eventually), you start to realize just how much this person aligns to who they told you they were. Do you make excuses? Sometimes. But the question is, once you remove their initial sales-pitch… Do you like who they are?

There are some steadfast rules I’ve found with regards to love and partnership:

  1. Love is fickle (aka, it can’t be 110% on 24/7 all the time). You can be caught up in the passionate throws of love one day and suddenly feel claustrophobic the next. This doesn’t mean they don’t love you anymore it just means things are generally that GOOD that they don’t need to spend all their time thinking/worrying/doting on you.
  2. People are who they are (aka, love who they are not who you think they should be). While you can influence aspects of a person’s life, they have to be open to that change I the first place. If you don’t love who they are then why are you dating them?
  3. Cut the crap and figure out what really matters (aka, would you rather date the charming slob, or someone who’s quieter but tidy?). I have a guy friend who refuses to date anyone shorter than they are… And that’s odd. What if the perfect person, in all ways: emotionally stable, happy, full of charm, wit, style, grace, passion, honor, affluence, and looks was five inches shorter than you? Would this really prevent you from dating them? You’re allowed to be picky (see the next rule), but there comes a point. If you’re alone and you’ve dated all these amazing people who are now happy in relationships… look in the mirror. You might be the thing that needs to grow a little.
  4. Do you want A relationship or THE relationship (aka, don’t write/tell them what you think they want to hear). If you pretend to be something else and/or don’t scrutinize.. You’ll find a lot of short-term fun and a lot of what you don’t want. If you’re more specific, honest and real? You’ll scare away the clutter and find someone that fits your mold. This can take a while, but really. Do you want the crappy snacks or the main dish. Make sure you only nibble along the way and you’re certain to have an appetite for the real thing when it arrives.
  5. There is more than just “one” person for each of us (aka- Your true-love is the person that you love in spite of and including their faults). Should a relationship not work out, mourn it, but also learn from it. Change is inevitable and you should take this opportunity to reflect on what worked, what didn’t and what you need/don’t need from your next partner.
  6. If you feel like you need a committed relationship to be successful, define who you are, or afford life? Then you are not ready to get into something serious (aka, If you stepped outside of yourself and asked “Would I date me today? What about ten years from now? Could I commit to me? Trust me? Or even get married to me?” You should be able to confidently answer yes. Though narcissists may have an issue here.)To be in a healthy partnership you need to know who you are and be able to extract what your needs, wants, and grey areas are. If any of the above doesn’t sound like something you’re capable of, then you’re not ready for a happy partnership.
  7. Communicate (aka, use your words and be honest). That’s all I have to say about that. If you and/or your partner don’t communicate and you’re unhappy. Time to do something about it
  8. Finally, always put yourself first (aka, the only one you’re with 24 hours a day is you). This may sound odd, but really? You may have the most loving, supportive partner in the world, but they are not a mind reader nor your slave. It’s all about balance. You should love and respect them and expect that back- But at the end of the day they are not going to write that book for you. They are not going to travel to France, meet your favorite authors, build that cabin, start raising llamas or pursue any of your dreams for you… And nor should you expect them to. If they’re supportive they might come along for the ride or simply give you the space you need. But the best way to prevent regrets is to communicate and act on your ambitions. If you can blame your partner (truthfully) for not achieving your goals… It might be time for a change. That said, you can absolutely put their needs before yours when it makes sense. Like when your partner is sick, or supporting them in their career, their hobby. The difference is simple. Do you live to serve your own needs or someone else’s? Find the balance in love and support for your own needs and your role in your partner’s and you’re set.

This may not work for everyone, but for most I’m betting this is a good starting point.  Sure there will be bumps, you just need to find someone willing to fasten their seat-belt and come along for the ride. You want to be heard, respected, loved and communicated with.  It doesn’t sound like a tall order, but if it isn’t… why are so many people stuck in less than great relationships?

Just take your time and honestly reflect on yourself. This may take a while! Years, even. Ultimately, what two years of self-improvement in exchange for 40 great years of partnership?

Once you know yourself, you’ll have a much better idea of what your partner looks like. It’s my experience that Love is a partnership. Someone who knows the real you, respects you, and grows with you.

A Quick Bit of Ketchup

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- Image by James Clear

So I found an article this morning, that succinctly expresses what I’ve been going for with this healthier lifestyle.

How to Change Your Beliefs and Stick to Your Goals for Good - by James Clear

In the article he summarizes that effectively, to become the person you want to be its not some massive, all or nothing action-  Its the little things. If you say that you sketch all the time? Then sketch. No one said you had to finish them. No one is holding a gun to your head demanding perfection. Just… do.  It can be 30 seconds, it can be 3 hours. The only thing you need to do, to authentically be the person you want to be is to do that thing for which you want to be known.

That’s not to say that certain choices in life aren’t without bigger steps. Its hard to declare yourself a chicken farmer if you’re living in an apartment in downtown.  But the point is that given the layers of your identity:

  1. Your Identity – What you believe you are.
  2. Your Performance - What you actually do.
  3. Your Appearance – How others perceive you.

Who are you?

In a society made up of perception and observation, you don’t really have the final say in how people view you. But! You do have the ability to influence their opinion.

I want to be known for being a capable and loving partner. A good person all around. And able to go on a 50-100 mile hike at a moments notice… while knitting a scarf. :P

 

Marrying in the back of a uHaul

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So its been less than a week, but you can add another notch in my officiant belt.

Last night I had the privilege of officiating the wedding between my friends Jenn and her now wife Mary. The story I’d like to share isn’t so much about how they met, but rather a reflection on how last night unfurled.

To begin with, there’s one thing you need to understand. Jenn and Mary march to the beat of their own drums. They do this so well that hanging out with them is like watching poetry in motion…  I’ll be it slightly erratic motion that makes sense once you get to where you going… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This tale begins this past Tuesday. Jenn sends out a message inviting people to join in her wedding which is going to happen this Thursday! Joel and I like and join in immediately. Celebrating a friend’s happiness certainly takes precedence above most things in life. On Wednesday I get a text,

“I know this is super last minute. Would you be able to officiate our wedding tomorrow? The person who was supposed to do it had to back out.”

Needless to say I was honored to have been asked and quickly pulled together a script. What followed was a series of emails going back and forth expounding and expanding on the script. This actually continued in some form up until the ceremony itself.

On Thursday, the day of the wedding… We met with a smaller group of people for dinner at Lark up on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Its a really nice tapas house with inspiration from across Europe. There was a mix of family and friends… All in all… It was a pretty damned fun time. The trick though, is that we didn’t actually end up getting out of there until a bit after 9:30. Just a scant 3.5 hour dinner. Haha, I didn’t mind, but then it wasn’t my wedding. Fortunately, Mary and Jenn are also quite flexible and made it work. The Only concern was the rest of the invitees who’d been gathering at Gameworks since about 8pm.

When we got there however, there wasn’t really a need to be concerned.  Some 30-40 people were buzzed and waiting.

Now here’s where it get’s interesting.

You might be thinking at this point that the wedding is going to take place at Gameworks. That would be incorrect. In truth, the wedding is going to place about 10 blocks away (roughly a mile) and in the place you would least expect. With an impressive entourage, the wedding party and myself headed for 2nd and Pine where a non-descript uHaul was waiting to be used for some celebrating (Phrasing! Boom. #archer).  But with the entire (we hope) entourage gathered around the open backend of a uHaul in a pay to park, parking lot, Jenn and Mary had a beautifully intimate and original ceremony. Such highlights include that not only did I get to quote the marriage officiant from the Princess Bride, but in their vows they worked in the words “squoozles” and “nuzzles”.

It was really, really sweet.

Two weddings in a week though… I wonder if this is going to become a pattern. I’m free Sunday afternoon if anyone needs someone to officiate! ;)

A New Experience

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In spite of recovering from a sinus infection, this past Saturday I did something new. I officiated a wedding.

A couple months ago I got my certification as a Minister in the Universal Life Church. According to this Church as an Atheist my belief is the disbelief in a god or gods. Isn’t that funny? My belief is effectively the lack in belief. What a novel and progressive way to be inclusive! I thoroughly approve.

Over the past couple years I’ve had sever friends ask me to officiate and it wasn’t until two of my friends Javid and TJ got engaged that someone followed through. So I checked to see what was required and to see if I was already ordained.  Honestly I’d thought I’d had gotten ordained at the same time as a friend back in college, oops. Haha, that was fixed quickly enough.

One $10 transaction later for a certification and I was ordained.

TJ and Javid were great to work with when writing the script. Opinionated, but not overly picky. They just wanted a good message and a short short ceremony-

  • A poem
  • A Reading
  • A short reflection from Aristophane’s Origin of Love
  • Their personal vows
  • Exchange of rings
  • And bam! One happily married couple.

I bought a suit for the occasion.

I’d like to say that it was some transformational experience, but that would be a flat out lie. For me, this first time ministering was really just… Fun. I’m proud that got to be a part, any part, of one of the most significant celebrations in my friends’ life! That’s awesome. Properly awesome.

I’m a bit of a ham when it comes to standing up in front of crowds, but I think aside from a quick quip on putting their phones into “airplane mode” (the wedding was at the Museum of Flight)? I kept the puns and jokes to a nil. Short and sweet is what they want, throw dash of depth on there and that’s what I delivered. :)

Life is short, why not share in the love.