Love

The Fading Magic Of Love

Admittedly the following thoughts are my own (somewhat emo) individual observations and feelings, so take them with a grain of salt, this has not be researched by any means.  In fact, hopefully I’m very off-base overall… but it occurs to me that a great deal of what traditionally considered “romantic” or proactive in terms of somebody pursuing another person romantically is now considered “creepy”, “stalker-ish”, or “harassment”. (Which, in many cases it actually is, I’m in no way disputing that, and nobody should be harassed regardless.)

Thus is the plight of modern romance. Unless the stars align and you cross paths and are introduced organically through social situations, folks are more or less forced to use social media style apps like Tinder or various dating sites to create a pre-existing context to meeting a stranger.

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Ahh… romance (though points for the HP reference.)

There is no more “love at first sight” for a stranger or acquaintance because nine times out of ten (especially, but not always, if it’s a man pursuing a woman) randomly approaching or attempting to talk to / get to know somebody that you have no (or very limited) preexisting context with will be met with suspicion, scorn and a label of one of the above terms.

Further, even if met with courtesy, attempting to pursue the matter usually breeds discomfort and is quickly reclassified into one of the above categories.

But that said, it’s true that such things (when unwanted, which initially, before people get to know each other, they almost always will be…) ARE in fact harassment and a lot of the tactics that folks in the “old days” used to employ to get a potential partner’s attention ARE in fact a form of stalking. And it’s absolutely correct that nobody should have to put up with harassment or stalking on any level, even with good intentions.

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Stalker!

So I wonder then what the fix is? What if everyone you come across organically isn’t the right one for you? What if you come across a relative stranger and feel the magical pull of what was once love at first sight, but there’s no real way to pursue it? What if all the “dating” apps yield a few great friends but then mostly contribute to losing your faith in humanity?

More and more people are staying single, and that’s okay because we need to be our own strong, independent people… but I feel like romance and whatever magic that love once held is becoming more and more scarce because the rules have changed and people either don’t want to play the game any more, or don’t really know how to operate in the new rule set. Or maybe the new rule set just doesn’t lend itself well to spark of a real, long-term love.

It’s a social evolution in that people’s rights are being respected on equal levels (ideally anyway), but in doing away with the archaic misogyny and religion – based social constructs, we may have also discarded some of the attached old-school charm and courtship that led to a small percentage (among many failed…) of happy, long-term, adorable couples/families. These days I see families and couples, but a large majority of them have settled, I don’t see the love. Some admit it, others don’t and in some cases my observation is wrong… but in others it has been proven to me, through action, confession or simply watching it fall apart.

I suppose it’s too early to tell, and I can only speak for my immediate bubble, but I see even less potential for those true, long-term connections now than I did with the old ways. We reduced the suffering of millions, and there’s no question that it’s worth it, but I think that the increasing rarity of classic, old-school style love actually makes me sad. It’s as easy as it has ever been to find somebody to hook-up with, but the problem is some part of me always wanted the idealized classic, stable, happy family with the “picket fence” or some version of it and I’m beginning to think that for somebody like me in a world like this, I can’t build it. I can build me, but everything else is like playing the social lottery, and the odds are very much not in my favor.

(Note: This wasn’t supposed to be a blog post,  it started out as a facebook post… I guess I just had a lot to say.)

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You don’t know who you are

You will never completely know or understand who you are. There’s a whole unknown you floating in your subconscious that only shows itself through dreams and surreal moments when you act in ways you thought you never would or could.  In some ways it represents your potential and depending on how you develop yourself that potential could be amazing, but it could also be disastrous.  Sigmund Freud would probably say that trying to get to know yourself on this level is trying to get more in touch with your Id and Super-Ego at the same time.

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“There are no mistakes.”

It’s a bit ironic actually, because the Ego (the moderator between those two) can be such a robust and confident thing when it really has no right to be.  The truth is we spend the majority of our lives trying to figure ourselves out (and that’s okay!)  I should actually say that the smart folks spend their days trying to better figure themselves out.  Unfortunately far too many people are busy looking outward than inward.  So they define things (especially the shitty stuff) by what their environment and those that inhabit it have shown them, instead of trying to figure out what they’re doing in that environment to begin with.

Don’t misunderstand me, I realize that people are often born into very unfortunate environments and circumstances.  As I’ve illustrated in previous posts, my own circumstances weren’t exactly roses and rainbows.  Some people don’t get to learn about themselves. It’s Maslow’s pyramid and they don’t make it past the first level.

An old friend of mine and I were discussing Maslow’s pyramid the other day and it both complimented and derailed what I intended to write about.  For those of you uninitiated, the essential idea is that human needs and progression happen on five levels.  The base of this pyramid are basic needs: food, water, sleep, sex (though.. I believe this transcends a bit… let’s call it “reproduction”,) oxygen, etc.

Once you’ve got your basic needs covered,the next level involved safety on every level.  Protection from the elements, security in your job/income/lifestyle, and basic personal safety.  All the things that lay the foundation for some level of confidence in your life.  But once you get all that figured out, you get to start on the advanced stuff.

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“Shit.. was that level 1 or level 3?”

Level three of Maslow’s pyramid consists of social developmental needs. This fuels the desire for popularity in high school and then evolves into being accepted and respected by your peers at work while simultaneously developing friendship, intimacy (there’s that sex again!), affection and, of course, love in your personal life.  Each step of this pyramid can be a life-long endeavor for many individuals, but I would wager that a very large percentage get stuck here (including, it seems, me.)

The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to achieve any of these levels in any sort of traditional manner to begin work on the next level.  Hell, I’m relatively sure you don’t even have to make it halfway.  As long as you have a basic understanding of achievement on any given level, you can probably grasp the next level as well.  But that’s dangerous, because the point of the pyramid is to illustrated how to form a solid foundation for each level and building on an unfinished foundation can (obviously) end up in disaster.

But let’s say you jump to the next level and go for the really advanced stuff. Level four of Maslow’s pyramid is all about going from being accepted, to leading and transcending the pack.  Achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, and respect from others are the needs this level presents.  By this time, you’ve figured out how to play the game of life, and now you need to do better than just play well, you need to excel at it.

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Maslow’s pyramid for the modern age.

Should you manage to develop yourself to the point of excelling at life in terms of what you want to achieve and what you want your peers to recognize about you, you’re ready for the supposed pinnacle of the pyramid: Total self-actualization. Now we’re getting into super-human territory that involves setting world records, becoming billionaires, scaling Mt. Everest, or becoming the President. Fortunately for a fair percentage of the people who are trying to fulfill this need also realize this potential by helping others find their way up the pyramid.  On the flip-side though, this is where the world’s absolute worst humans do the worst damage.

The point of that quick overview though was to illustrate a point: you’ll never reach total self-actualization because you will never completely know and understand yourself.  Even if you somehow thought you did, you can’t, because it’s fluid.  That’s actually one of the great joys of life.  One of the greatest strengths of humanity is it’s fluidity and adaptability.  Some very smart, very enlightened people close to me struggle with this a lot and admittedly I do as well because it’s frankly exhausting if you don’t step back to recognize it for what it really is: growth.  Not only is it growth, but it’s advanced growth that only a certain percentage of people in the world have the luxury of knowing.

It’s a given that people reach the fifth level of Maslow’s pyramid all the time, but as I

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Oh…

mentioned earlier, a lot of those people left an essential level undeveloped… some skipped it entirely and paid for it.  They are easy to see, the people who seem to have everything, experienced so much, but are still miserable.  They act out, break down, and sometimes die far too early and sometimes by their own hand.

The point in all this psycho-babble is that I’ve realized that the biggest mistake we can make is attempting to rush through or force our personal development.  We seek to master our environment and to balance that out we must seek to master ourselves.  But both are fluid and can never really be mastered, so we have to realize that it’s enough to continue learning, continue developing and build our foundations strong on each level so we have a solid base when we someday reach the top of our own personal pyramid.

You don’t know who you are, and you never will, but the point is continuing to get to know yourself.  When you do, you get to the fun part: Being pleasantly surprised and amazed at what you can do… and then being able to live happily with it.

 

An Elaboration On Love

Almost nine years now I’ve been single. This has not been due to lack of interest by outside parties, just not the proper alignment. As I’ve said previously I am fortunate to know some absolutely amazing and incredible people. Just not the right person for what it must be. You see, for all my lack of emotion and self-centeredness, I still believe in some level of magic.   I’ve elaborated in the past about “it” and the magic that was, but I want to share about the magic that can be, that will be. Because if it doesn’t, it may not happen at all (which would… complicate things considering my eventual desire for children.)

It is said that when you are dying your whole life flashes before your eyes. You become distant and the world around you happens in slow motion as your brain processes (possibly for the last time) the events that led you to this point and made up your life. Depending on who you ask or what you believe, this is simply your brain going into emergency mode and firing on every channel it can in a panic before it shuts down forever. Others will say it’s a much more pleasant experience, that you’re recapping your life and experiences to this point before moving on to the next inevitable and unstoppable phase of your existence. To me, love is a little bit like the latter.

That moment...

That moment…

I believe that when you find the right person, the one who aligns with you in the right ways in both perfection and imperfection and is as drawn to you as you are to them, a moment will happen (perhaps many, but at least the first, pivotal one.) This moment will feel a lot like the second explanation of the moments before death above: Everything that was your life up to that point will converge into a singular moment and purpose, and from that singularity something new will be born, like a Phoenix burning to ashes and arising new… reborn.

It could be a small gesture, even a shared look, or it could be a dramatic and well orchestrated event, but that moment will come when you know that it’s time, and that you’ve found what you have both been looking for. You’ll know that everything leading up to this moment has passed, and something new is beginning, something that is powerful, hopeful and made up of the best of two individuals. Something that includes all that led them to this point: friends, family and experiences and uses that foundation to become something even greater, something that shatters limits and boundaries, something infinite. I believe that is power of love and that is the feeling that comes from it and fills the two souls that partake of it. Most importantly, I believe it exists.

This is, perhaps, the least pragmatic and realistic of my beliefs, but I know it exists simply because I can comprehend it… I can actually feel it as I imagine the possible scenarios in the future with the one whom I will share such things. To be sure, this person does not yet have a face, and the circumstances would vary greatly depending on their life and experiences that led them to this point, but all those details will simply feed into the next step.

35 years later, still taking adorable selfies.

35 years later, still taking adorable selfies.

It is this love, this power, that I believe fuels those who pull off the true long-term relationships. I speak of the adorable people that have grown old together over fifty years and celebrate their anniversaries as if no time has passed at all. I speak of the families that are tested, encountering great hardships and pulling together to come out stronger in the end. I speak of the undying, unyielding light that outshines the great darkness this world and it’s people can bring to bear. I speak of perfection and light born from not from desperation, compromise, impatience or mistakes… I speak of something right, that is the product of two imperfect beings that have found something perfect for them both through their bond. It is never the absence of doubt, fear or despair, but the strength to conquer them. All of those things and more are love and it’s power.

Additionally, I know and believe that “love” comes in many forms among many people. I would wager to say that just as there are many shades of any color, love also occurs in a spectrum that is infinitely larger than that. It is not for me (or anyone) to say what you love or that your love is true or not. It is not for me (or anyone) to say that any love is right or wrong, real or not. I speak of a specific love, one that I am familiar with and believe in. But I will never tell somebody that they are not in love with their life, their pets, their religion or even their money. Perhaps I could argue that love of some things has much more obvious drawbacks than others, but that is a discussion for another post, another time, and to be honest I’m not certain that at it’s core I could effectively argue with any real love, no matter how I perceived it.

0610087d21f25e9b18b7b784f8b59a97More realistically speaking, I also know that such love can exist and then, over time perhaps, diminish. I don’t think it is destroyed, but I would say it is possible for it to become buried under the many things in this life that can get in the way of it. When this happens it does not mean that it never existed, or even that it ceased to exist now, but whether or not it can be dug up and saved is solely at the discretion of those experiencing it. It’s easy to take the stance of “It wasn’t real if it doesn’t last.” But I don’t think that’s true, it’s more likely that it’s simply locked away, or that it has changed into something else. I suppose my point is, though I spoke ideally above in an enduring and everlasting love, I am also hesitant to discount love (including my own) that has reached those heights and, for better or worse, changed into something else. Perhaps due to timing, circumstances or one or both of those involved not being ready, just because it would ideally last forever, doesn’t mean it has to. It also doesn’t mean it was any less real.

But in the meantime, as with most things in this life, I think we need to shoot for the ideal, to believe in it. I don’t think there is any less ideal or less powerful concept than the belief in love and all that comes with it. I know it exists, I know it is out there somewhere and even if it takes another decade or more to find it, when that moment comes, I know it will be worth it.

Forward Motion

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about today, I have a ton of ideas in my head but none of them are totally fleshed-out yet (that’s mostly “no pun intended”…)  I do have a concept in mind of explain how I tend to bond with people sexually (I know, y’all need a sex post soon…) but I want to think about that a bit more before I broadcast.  So instead I think I’ll give you a couple of “small” things that may or may not get bigger.  The lack of cohesion might not appeal to you all, but it’s my blog, so you get to deal. 🙂

Dream Girl:

The real one is out there... somewhere.

The real one is out there… somewhere.

I didn’t dream last night that I can remember, I got just under six hours of sleep which (I fairly recently learned) is consistently dreamless as far as I can tell.  I would imagine it has to do with when I wake up in regards to my sleep cycles, but regardless I tend to remember my dreams a lot more consistently at the seven and a half to eight hour mark.  Monday night I did indeed dream, but it was a sleep-deprived dream at only four and a half hours.  Normally when I dream, it’s lucid.  I’m aware I’m dreaming and reacting with that knowledge.  But this was one of the very rare ones; ultra detailed, specific and realistic.  I didn’t know I was dreaming.  Obviously the typical “dream fog” about how I had gotten there was in effect as I didn’t question it, but it got me regardless.  In this dream I was having a conversation with a girl I don’t really know (as in I know of her, and we’ve talked online and what-not, but have never met her in person…)  and we talking about “us” and confirming that we should be together.  It was a touching and kind of adorable situation that I’m not 100% comfortable describing because it was a but mushy.

What’s important about this though is that I had absolutely no reservations about this girl.  “It” was there and I was very, very ready to dedicate myself to her.  It reminded me of what it can feel like, what it should feel like.  It’s been a good fourteen years now since it felt like that, exactly right, and my subconscious still remembers it enough to recreate it.  Maybe that’s what fooled me, how easily we can be manipulated by the heart.  I woke up confused, disoriented and trying to figure out how I got to my bedroom after I had been spending time with her (sorry, no sex, this was a gushy dream, not a sexy one…)  For the first time in a long time, after a few seconds when I finally realized it was a dream, I was actually a little sad.  I thought about sending the girl a note telling her about this, but I don’t know her, at best I just know my idea of her based on limited discussion and social media.  Unfortunately, telling her something like this would likely just creep her out, and I couldn’t blame her for that.  She made an excellent dream girl regardless.

Unpause:

No.

No.

Every so often routine sets in and things just sort of freeze for a while.  While I understand it as a natural necessity of life and try to use it to my advantage, the truth is I find it very, very boring.  Me bored is bad.  Even though I have tons of things (like this…) to fill my days with, if I don’t feel like my life is in motion and things aren’t developing and growing around me, I tend to get very resigned and more likely to start reaching at things I probably shouldn’t.  Relaxing is a GREAT thing, and routine is beneficial when populated with good habits, but boredom with the state of your life is poison and needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

I’ve been in said routine for a while now.  Much of it was intentional as I had a bit to reconcile from the previous cycle to this one (probably not quite done with that… but more stable anyway.)  However, things are in motion again.  Spring is almost (literally) here and the world around me is beginning to shuffle and put things in motion that it’s been whispering about for some time.  In short, even if my life won’t dramatically change anytime soon, the state of my life and several factors around me have already begin to and will continue to.  All these prospects are the opposite of boring, and anticipating the shake-up is admittedly exciting for me.  It’s not that I crave chaos per-say, but I like renewal.  Change often sucks when you lose things, but the upside to that is that eventually new things begin to take shape and the potential they represent is exciting.

Fitting DMB Lyric. :)

Fitting DMB Lyric. 🙂

Is that vague / cryptic enough for you?  Well for instance, I have things to look forward to.  A week from now, I will once again be in Seattle for a week or so.  While I don’t have the exciting plans I had last time, after the show ends on Saturday, I will again see family, again eat far too many of my father’s hot wings and very likely find a few ways to entertain myself (though in all honesty I’ll also just be happy to relax and take in the Northwest again.)  Following that, show season is in full effect for Cybis until May, when “Dave Season” (Dave Matthews Band) begins with a concert in Atlanta on the thirtieth with some really great people.

So, in the absence of dream love, there may still be a few good reasons to peek outside of my cave.  I’ve been a little recluse on purpose, but the universe will only allow that for so long.  It is not my way to be idle and there are things to be done.

Sexual Dynamics, Part 2: Making Love

My first thought (and perhaps yours) is: “Why do you think you’re qualified to write about this!?”  I’m not.  I’ve had my brushes with the grey areas over the years, and let’s say that at times maybe it refreshed my memory, but I haven’t been consistently, romantically, lovingly involved with somebody for nearly a decade.  So am I an expert on the fine art of love-making as I feel I was for hooking up?  Fuck no.  But I’ll give it a shot anyway, maybe I can paint an ideal, unrealistic picture for us all!

This is less love and more a fire hazard...

This is less love and more a fire hazard…

So what’s the difference between sex and making love?  Rose petals? candles? magic?  No, not really.  It comes down to comfort and trust.   Yep, that thing I’ve talked about as being dangerously bad in the past is one of the defining differences between hooking up and making sweet love.  Trust is a given, if you don’t trust your partner, you have no business being with them and claiming you love them.  In my experience, even if you don’t automatically trust the person you love, you choose to.  So with that in mind, if you trust your partner mentally and emotionally, it seems reasonable that physical will follow.  Especially when the element of communication is present.  As I’ve said, that’s pretty essential for any sort of good sex, but if you don’t communicate properly with the person you’re supposedly in love with, it’s going to severely dampen you sex life (along with your relationship.)

Comfort is a double-edged sword.  When you grow emotionally comfortable with somebody, the personas you put out to the outside world (including those you may have hooked up with) strip away and you feel good about showing / giving yourself to somebody completely.  Exposed, vulnerable, honest, raw.  They get what the hookups don’t, they get all of you.  Getting naked and getting off with somebody is easy, letting them have you with all your mental and emotional defenses down and trusting them to do right by you is much, much harder.  Making love is (and should be) a physical metaphor for your entire relationship: physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual.  Over time though, that comfort can easily fall into taking each other for granted.  Even the act of making love can begin to feel mundane over a long amount of time and lose the very thing that differentiates it from simply hooking up.  It’s a fine line, balanced properly by effort, communication and dedication to satisfying each other’s needs. The physical aspect of a long-term relationship must be maintained as much as any other aspect, or it can just as easily end said relationship as anything else.  You’ve pledged yourselves to each other for the long haul, that means taking care of all the needs you can for them.

Pictured: Magic (I had no idea I was being painted...)

Pictured: Magic (I had no idea I was being painted…)

Don’t get me wrong about magic either, when you’re in love with somebody the magic is (ideally) in everything, especially at first.  But the magic is the love itself.  In the beginning.. the “honeymoon phase” the newness and excitement makes this magic almost automatic, but once that fades it takes some level of work to recognize, appreciate and make magic.  You have to make  love.  Perhaps that’s where the term comes from as many of the more romantic (and in my opinion misguided) belief systems consider sex to be the ultimate expression of love.  While that’s utter bullshit, it makes a decent point in reinforcing that the physical certainly is important as a balanced form of expressing your love physically.  In my experience, the special someone will always have that pull, the intangible, explainable thing that draws you to them, but it’s up to you both to recognize and elaborate on that.  Part of loving somebody is being dedicated to exploring and nurturing the magic that you have with them, and that very includes the bedroom.  If it doesn’t… well then you fall in the very large percentage of people who do what they feel they have to on the side.  It doesn’t meant the love is gone, but it means something has fallen to the wayside on a physical level at least (if not other levels as well.)

NOT Love.  But REALLY, REALLY fun.

NOT Love. But REALLY, REALLY fun.

So, what about non-traditional situations?  Threesomes, Orgies or just open relationships?  I’m not going to go into Polyamory or other alternative relationship situations because this isn’t about the relationships, this is about the love-making within the relationship.  Can people really be in love with multiple people equally?  Yeah, probably.  But let’s talk about that some other time.    In the meantime let’s start with three or more people since I’ve got some experience with this.  First of all, this is by no means wrong or bad for the relationship as long as both people are totally open and honest with each other.  This keeps misunderstandings from happening and allows ground rules to be set if necessary.  Done properly, adding an addition person the mix for a couple to share can be very exciting and fulfilling.  The key is that both partners are equally interested in the situation and they regard the third person as a toy for them both play with.  The third person should also be very clear about their role, and honestly would rarely complain.  In my experience, the threesome+ itself is exciting, sexy and even satisfying, but not making-love.  It’s more like the couple as a singular entity are “hooking-up” with another person.  It’s recreation, fun, sexy recreation for all parties involved.  The nifty side-effect I’ve noticed is that such situations usually result in a second, more connected “love-making” session a bit later on.  Call it reconnection,  reclaiming, whatever.  It’s probably just because the threesome highlighted the contrast between hooking up and making love enough for the couple to crave the added intimacy.

As for open relationships, the best way to explain this is simply that when those in love are with each other, they have that greater connection and intimacy that is making love.  When they venture out and see other people, they are just plain fucking.  It’s like masturbating, but better because it’s always better when somebody else does it.  Obviously this sort of situation requires that the couple not be possessive of each other physically and have spectacularly good, straightforward communication (both of which are much harder in practice than in theory.)  This maintains the necessary trust along with the obvious need for open communication among all parties regarding healthy sexual practices.  I absolutely must point out that love is not possessiveness.  I’m not saying that it’s wrong to want your partner all to yourself, but if somebody isn’t physically possessive, it doesn’t mean they don’t love somebody, it just means they have drawn a clear line in their mind between making love and hooking up.  I’ve heard people say in the past that they like it when their spouse/partner gets jealous because it means they love them.  Fuck that.  Jealousy isn’t love in any way, shape or form.  It’s about possession and nobody owns anyone.  A good relationship is when two people want to give themselves to each other and share their lives equally.  Ownership has nothing to do with it. Ever.  So with that said, while jealousy is natural, it can also be controlled and mastered, and if that’s the case, then a loving and open relationship is certainly possible.

They OBVIOUSLY get it.

They OBVIOUSLY get it.

So what is “Hooking Up”?  Two (or more) consenting adults happily get naked and do sexy things to each other until they end up in a happy heap of post-orgasmic bliss.  What is “Making Love”? Two (or possibly more) people come together without barriers, personas or presumptions and give themselves to each other mind, body and spirit.  They truly connect on multiple levels and and express their total desire to share their lives with each other.  Hooking up is great when done responsibly, but making love is a rare treasure on a whole different level.