07 May 2011

Eat. Pray. Love

Do you know that person who despairs stubbornly that there is no point to love because everything falls apart, decays, changes? I imagine dark romantics lie in angst over these thoughts and are the ones that write movies like Rebecca or Eat, Pray, Love.

Lately I've noticed that this theme of anguish appears more frequently through my daily interactions, if in a more subtle way. Living in New York is a different experience from visiting New York. I knew this before I moved here, but I didn't know the exact details of why. I still haven't figured it out completely yet. And there are days when it's difficult to separate what's them and what's me that is at fault for making New York the you-know-what that it can be. And when I think about New York, I usually come to the conclusion that the proximity to so many other people is the cause for all the ugly scenes I see. Of course I know that such logic isn't exactly true, not true at all in fact - but I do know that if I got away from here I wouldn't be exposed to it nearly as much.

And that "it" is what really is the problem. Pride and selfishness really are the root to so many problems - and it's everywhere, not just in New York where you can't run away from it. It's in Eat, Pray, Love, it's in the windows of Anthropologie, and it's most definitely within me.

There's this dilemma however, and it seems boring to rehash - but worth it. These people who claim that they can't trust or love because things change or decay are either hiding behind fear, pride-selfishness, or both. I can sympathize with fear. I can relate to pride and selfishness. I just don't enjoy hearing this theme used without contest through so much of the entertainment or news I watch,listen to, or read.

When I thought about marriage today I thought about how true romance isn't living life from one person to the next - or even choosing to be alone. I thought most people knew that happiness and marriage are things worked for. But the divorce rate between amicable parties shows something different entirely. If it isn't easy and if it doesn't fit right - why keep it? I know I'm in the minority when I say that this logic saddens me.

I don't know how to say it eloquently, but happiness doesn't come from expecting someone else to make you happy. I don't think happiness even comes from telling yourself that you love you no matter who you are. I think happiness comes from small but meaningful and responsible choices and actions to serve and live righteously. And I think true romance in marriage comes when you devote yourself entirely to a life such as that.

The feeling of love that I had for John when we first married is different from what it is now. The longer our relationship is, the more meaningful we make it, the more willing we are to forgive one another or to put aside our own wants and needs, the more capable I am of defining what love is.

I understand that feelings fade over time. They do decay - and sometimes we hold on to the remains of those feelings. I certainly have before. However with John, my attitude has been different. From the beginning I realized how sacred and serious in nature the commitment I made to my husband and my Heavenly Father would be. I was actually in anguish over this fact for quite a while. And not because I didn't love John. But because I also believed in what people said in the movies about how to handle a love that fades away. Similar thoughts expressed in the lyrics of Bruno Mars's horrified and yet comforted me:

Let’s just run girl.
If we wake up and you wanna break up that’s cool.
No, I won’t blame you;
It was fun girl.

Now such lyrics only horrify me - especially since John and I have lived our commitment for one another. And as a blessing, our choices have testified to the beauty of what true romance can be . . . and will be when we're two old farts sitting on porch sipping lemonade.

To say I had a fear of commitment is an understatement.

Julia Roberts didn't need to travel the world to learn to love herself or to learn how to overcome her fear of commitment. Although the idea of running away in the hopes that a change of environment would change what's inside is always an enticing thought . . and I think even helps sometimes. Yet, I still think it comes down to whether or not you are willing to give up your pride/selfishness and to devote yourself to serving.

If I want to be happy in my marriage, to have romance, to be happy about living wherever I am - I have to give my seat up to the elderly man on the train, I have to forgive the lady that shoves into me on purpose while walking by, I have to do my best to serve my husband, and I also have to forget the person at work who sarcastically mocks me for doing my job.

This is all obvious to many wonderful people I know. But it feels good to say (write) that I too believe it and that - yes - living it has brought me happiness.


Michemily said...

Hi. You will be amazed to hear I haven't read anything on my Google Reader for over two weeks now. So count yourself lucky that I was bored and decided to specifically look up your blog! But actually I was the lucky one, because your writing was so eloquent and thoughtful. I don't know what I think about romance or life or happiness anymore. Actually, I kind of believe they're all illusions. But anyway, Amy didn't like Eat, Pray, Love, either. She said that lady was just whiny and needed to get over it. I can completely relate to the needing to get away thing, and I don't think it's always running away. Sometimes you just need a new scene. And though I don't see happiness in being with someone, it can be enjoyable to have someone by your side, especially in new surroundings. I do like serving, no matter what selfish state I'm in, but I don't feel like any long-term happiness stems from that for me. Then again, happiness seems to have escaped me completely. Meh. I'm just being incoherent. I should really go to bed.