I was sitting here reminiscing about some of the good times I’ve been through, some of the wonderful people I’ve known and I thought of one friend in particular, a person who has been a great pal to me over the years. A lovely woman indeed. Ironically, I think the worst of advice I ever listened to in my life came from that same almost-lifelong friend, when she said, (quite emphatically and passionately I might add) “please, please don’t become a priest” .
To explain, I was considering a monastic existence at the age of 17, being rather obsessed with all things esoteric and faith-based at the time. Terrible advice. Absolutely shocking given where I was headed, compared with the future events of the rest of my life. Now that I’m finally free to pursue something in that vein, after having lived far too much of life in probably too short a time, I’ve become disinterested in attending to a place of idealism and purity the way I would have at 17. I’m now far more interested in material things.
I mean, I could blame myself and take accountability for my own actions and decisions. I could admit that she was basically just agreeing with my deeper self at the time. I could even go as far as to say, had I ignored her it would have come crashing down and I’d be right here where I am anyway – but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I decided to take a look at how far I’ve come in terms of romantic idealism, because once I decided not to follow the monastic principle, I turned instead to a far deeper, much earlier drive that had lived within me, possibly since birth.
I find it kind of sad that since I was a child, one of the things I wanted most was that loving feeling, the one Elvis talked about losing in his song ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’. I didn’t really get that song as a child, instead, ‘Love Me Tender’ was an instant favourite, it touched me deeply when perhaps I should have been too young for it to do so. Regardless, that search for romance, for the slightly wild, slightly crazy out-of-the-blue thing I hadn’t yet discovered on TV, burned within, very early on.
I met this little girl when I was three years old at kindergarten. I told my grandma it would be nice to marry a girl like her. I was into ideas like marriage at the age of three. She thought it was adorable, and told me later on I was involved unwittingly in a love triangle, as a second little girl had expressed similar feelings for me.
Quite the drama for a three year old.
At age five I was painting my ‘dream girl’ and my ‘dream ghost girl’, the dual image of what I then viewed as the potential loves of my life. That was the time I’ve described previously when a long-winded argument with my father over choosing one (which I refused to do) resulted in my bursting into tears at the thought. Such was again, my early passion for the ideal of romantic love.
Around the age of six, we were travelling, staying at a caravan park. I met another little girl in the common room, and all I wanted to do was share my bag of lollies, watch a movie with her, and hold her hand while we watched TV. She was very happy with that idea, so that is exactly what we did. We were both really, really sad when we parted ways.
Apparently it was the sweetest thing anyone had seen in forever.
By this point of course I had discovered television, and books, and was enthralled with fantasy, science fiction, and in particular, the romances that went with them. When I was 11, I told my father an incredibly detailed description of my future wife, complete with her name, the names of our children, our occupations, and what we enjoyed doing together. When he asked how I knew this was going to happen, I told him it was fate. The emergent theme destined for continuous flowering: that these things must occur by virtue of their own predestined nature. I romanticised people, relationships, and life.
I’ve been the Ted Mosby style dreamer for a long while, a believer in ‘the magic’. Further to that, I’ve also been a great believer that romance grows from passion, a spark, something intangible that drags you together. It happens for a reason.
However, now as a grown man, after a few relationships and many romances, some lovely, some terrible, all ended – and now that I’ve had the time to watch human interaction over and over again – more and more I begin to conclude that a great romance may actually be quite a premeditated activity. It seems to have little if anything to do with magic, and everything to do with goal setting, building, motivation and people manipulating each other’s wants and needs to create a given outcome.
Finding a compatible mate in the first place is played like a game, a strategy used by both sides to capture their intended quarry. Coming together in romance appears to be rooted in an assessment of congruent values, likes and dislikes. You could just as well have it all arranged for you by a third party – like an app, or your parents. Further on, that those people both have their togetherness at heart seems the only effective thing keeping them together. Certainly not a deep and lasting concept of infinite love for one another, that seems certain. Rather, and again, strategy, be it compromise or otherwise.
It seems that romance in terms of success, is a matter of semantics. As a result, anyone who is not geared that way, might be at best, adrift at sea, unless they’re extremely lucky. For a person who has been compared to a ‘combination of Ted, Gomez and Sartre’ the notion of premeditation in terms of seeking out meaningful romantic love feels something like poison ivy. I have begun to conclude therefore, that romance is better off without me, and perhaps the monastic life would have been a better choice.
To the romantics out there, myself included, I trust that I am romanticising negativity, and therefore, I am wrong, and a new sun shall dawn on the dew of love once more in some far-flung but not-so-distant future.