Many words to define love
If I were asked to share one thing with all the daters out there, it would be this: remember that the only person who can bring you true happiness in life is yourself.
In urban culture, we grow up learning that one day you'll meet someone whom you'll love like a renegade, in that "special" way. Then, you'll get married. Once that falls into place, life reaches its peak. Finally, someone will make you a satisfied whole.
We generally share this notion of perpetual graduation, where life is a linear process of acquisition, by which we eventually become "complete." We continue to acquire until, at some unknown point in the future, we will finally have everything we need to be at peace, or to be happy.
Hog-tying a "true love" is winning the blue ribbon at the county fair. But there's a problem - love isn't tangible. It can't be caught, measured or accounted for, like a piggy bank, house or degree - it just is. And we allow this obsession with something so elusive to rule our lives.
There are parts of the world with no faucets, light bulbs or Haagen-Dazs. They've never seen credit cards or leather interiors. Yet, despite the lack of all these luxuries, these people continue to know profound happiness. The answer lies in how they measure success - if you're alive, as Charlie Sheen says, you're "winning."
Romantic love isn't something you need to be happy. It's not some portal to a higher state of being. It's an experience we choose to have - like skydiving or priesthood.
We watch movies, read magazines and newspapers, looking to 'experts' to guide us closer to it - to something that has no destination. Like women's lifestyle magazines, I could tell you the '46 wildest things he wants in bed,' or what he's thinking on a first date, but we'd be missing the point.
What is love, really? Maybe it's a candlelit dinner, or a diamond ring. It could be like a garden, the fragrant splendor of relentless, tedious co-creation. We each have to decide for ourselves. I think my grandpa said it best, "love is smelling their farts and not batting an eyelash."
I need to take some time to answer that question for myself. While I do, I wish you well in your own journeys. To all those who have read and written, thank you, goodbye and good luck.
This is Chris James' last column. Send us your feedback about what kind of content you'd like to see in this space at firstname.lastname@example.org