This is the last of five posts in the series “Five Things About Love (that are hard to understand)” by Miles McClellan. If you like his writing as much as we do, his first novel “Vigil of the Ageless” is now available for purchase on Amazon. For now, we leave you with lovely words from a true Southern writer.
Today’s is my final entry, and so I will leave you with what I find harder to grasp about love than anything else. I am very grateful to those of you who have been reading along, and if you’re new to my corner of the internet, I hope to have your audience again in the future. When life deals us a bad hand, when our relationships fail, and when all hope we had for happiness with someone we love is snuffed out, far too frequently we find it easier to blame the other person, or worse, to blame love itself, than to blame anything else.
Within our hearts, love is the most powerful force in play, after all. I don’t need to tell any of you how many countless laments exist, how many odes to our broken hearts and memes to pathetic, hopeless thoughts you can find with a few keystrokes on the web.
“No-one cares unless you’re pretty or dead.” That’s one that I saw a few weeks ago. The internet is replete with such sorry pretenders to intelligent thought. As with many of you, I’m used to it. I’m used to hearing about how love is such an awful, damnable lie, and I say without reserve: If that’s the way you choose to see the world, then I’m afraid the only lie is the one you have been telling yourself.
A very wise saying I’ve heard many times of late goes like this…
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
To me, this has always been meant to remind us that we are capable of turning away the loves of our lives before we’ve even gotten to know them… just because we have other ideas about what is right for us than love does. It means sometimes we accept, even cling to, the love of a scoundrel or a harlot because we sincerely do not believe we are better off without them. This quote’s interpretation of love presents all the hope and danger of love in one flawless summation. It’s perfect, frankly.
To come back to my own metaphor, that of the road: If where we are on the road of love represents how much of it we’ve come to understand, I think we have a tendency to reach for people who are nearest our own leg of the journey.
After all, that’s the right idea, isn’t it?
If love is a road, and commitment is what we want, then sharing the journey of love side by side must be the point we’re all trying to reach. It follows that we would naturally want someone who is somewhere very near us in our understanding, very near to us on the road, so why reach for someone far away at all? Why not just start with someone who is already right next to us? Why bother with a love that is in a different place than our own?
This is the enigma of love that most of us get ensnared in, for better or worse. This is the very struggle about which we get so spiteful and bitter when we fail. We don’t recognize the more challenging prospects as the more valuable, and so we turn them away because we want love to be easy. We only want it for its comforts. We want it to give us just what we want, and we don’t want to wait for it. Most of us are in such different places that, even when the dearest of loves calls out from the horizon, if reaching that person seems too difficult or burdensome, we actually start to think it’s not worth the trouble.
We forget that all the trials of love, so much trouble… it may well be the most worthwhile pursuit we’ll ever experience. So what if you have a long way to go?
Are you in love, or aren’t you?
If you are inexperienced in love, it’s true that those who are wiser to its ways, who are much farther down the road, can intimidate you so much that you can hardly even acknowledge an attraction to them. You may fail to even see the merit of someone who could make you happier than anyone you’ll ever meet again. If you’ve been around, and you’ve confronted your demons, those who haven’t… those who are behind you on the road lose their appeal, and you may not ever notice the immeasurable, perfect beauty of a silver-lined soul who needs just one, singular measure of patience: Yours.
Ask yourself: If you caught a glimpse of that person’s promise, just a hint of their true worth, in either case… would you not take a chance on them?
When two bodies meet face to face in life, when two hearts begin to fall for one another, this is the predicament they will likely face… together in life, yet so far distant in love. It is finding our way together, truly together, that is so incredibly tricky, yet more immensely rewarding than any other feeling within our fleeting, miniscule lifetimes.
For in order to reach one another, one will have to sprint ahead, push oneself. The other will have to stop in place, holding oneself back. It will put a strain upon both. Both your hearts must want the other dearly. They must long for one another. Charging down the road takes stamina, and a great deal of bravery. Waiting in place takes patience, and a lot of faith. Then, even with overwhelming desire, all of it still takes time. It can take years.
Yet, as long as you so crave and are strengthened by one another, as is love’s way with us… after what amount of patience, after how long, is it ever not “worth it”?
Are you in love? Or aren’t you?
Think about it. For even if you don’t come together…
The one who did the running learned so very much along the way. Thanks to the chance he or she took, neither of you will ever be the same, and maybe one day, when neither of you expects it… you’ll catch up to one another anyway.
Now, if you could see love that way, would you still say it was love that failed you?
Love never fails. We do. We fail.
We fail to do the good work that love asks of us. We fail to make the effort. We fail to rise to its challenge. We fail to recognize it when it’s right in front of us. We allow ourselves to expect too much of one another, to force one another’s hands, to demand the wrong things at the wrong times for the wrong reasons. We fail to endure, to come together on the roads of life and love. Be it easily or roughly, for good reasons or for bad… we let one another down.
In the end, we make up our own minds, and love has no say or sway in it at all. Relationships end. Not because love has failed us, but because we just don’t quite want to keep the love we’ve been given.
We will suit ourselves, I suppose. We can always choose to do better.
As for me… I’m going to keep moving. Life has shown me that love is a road ever worth the journey. I hope I’ve been able to share that as sincerely as I feel it.
“And love will protect
Love always hopes
And love still believes
When you don’t.
Love is the arms that are holding you
Love never fails you.”
Editor’s Note: artwork by Phillip Blume Photography
Miles McClellan is the author behind the psychology, philosophy, and fiction blog How to Throw a Book. Already a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Grady College, he is a student of all things psychological and recently published his first book Vigil of the Ageless.