Waiting for Love
Traci L. Slatton
Is love is the only immortality we can know? Love of family, love of friends, love of a mate, love of art, love of a vocation, love of books, love of a place, love of God-is this where we approach eternity? And how do we find this love in our lives?
Writing the historical novel Immortal led me into many meditations on love. In the rags-to-riches-to-burnt-at-the-stake story, and the main character Luca is looking for love from the very first page. He imagines having a beloved wife. To be married was everything in those times: name, family, station, validity. One magical night he's offered a choice between an almost endless life, or union with a great love, whom he will lose, a loss which will precipitate his own death. He chooses love. And then he waits for it show up in his life.
But it's not just 14th century beggars who wait for love. Isn't it what we're all doing, all the time, in one form or another? We go to work and put our shoulders to the wheel hoping for approbation, which is a form of love, and accomplishment, which can bring self love. The financial remuneration of our jobs is a concrete, mathematical form of value, of love. We come home and make dinner for the family, tend to the laundry, and oversee our kids' homework. However pedestrian, these are all acts of love, just as is vacuuming the floor with a HEPA-filter vacuum so the five year old doesn't have an allergy attack, or finding a tasty new broccoli recipe to serve, because broccoli wards off cancer. Most of the moms I know, including me, hope to receive gratitude for our daily efforts. Gratitude is a high form of love, perhaps the purest form of love we can know. Isn't that why so many prayers in different religions include "thank you"? For a parent trying to do a good job for her kids, there's nothing sweeter than "Thanks!" and a quick hug.
Sometimes, at home, we're waiting for more than loving recognition of our efforts. Our marriages can feel like they're threaded through with the malaise of work requirements, mortgages, school conferences, and soccer games, so we don't quite experience the tender communion we felt we were promised when we stepped up to an altar, or under a chuppah, or in front of the justice of the peace. An old friend recently complained that he and his wife were business partners, not spouses and lovers, and I couldn't help but think how common, and sad, a complaint that is. We start a life together with a mate on the basis of love, but then what happens? That very life intervenes, and leaves us, unless we're very careful or very lucky, waiting for love all over again.
We're sensitive to this issue partly because pop culture abounds with the longing for love, and not just in the omnipresent form of songs romanticizing it. We open a book, or turn on Grey's Anatomy, explicitly to get caught up in the heart-palpitating trials and tribulations of the main character. We like those desperate passions, we even crave them; we don't just yearn, we yearn to yearn. We want to feel what Dr. Grey feels when she stares longingly at McDreamy, we want to swoon with her when he puts his arms around her. And it's not just romantic love that draws us. The unspoken affection between Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk was one of the most appealing features of the original Star Trek show. Most advertisements also seek to hook us through showing some form of love, whether it's love of freedom and the exhilarating potential of the open road (car commercials), love of good times and flirtation (beer commercials), or love of a beautiful face and figure (almost every print ad or television commercial). Love is all there is.
And in the ubiquity of love and its infinite variety lies its resolution. There's no one single way that love comes back to us. It can be an endless and sumptuous feast. If using the HEPA filter prevents the suffering of allergies, or baking the cauliflower in olive oil feeds the kids while strengthening their immune systems, those are blessings in themselves. And the blessing of love is present when we have a friend with whom to share a joke and a laugh, and when there's a book on the shelf in which we discover something new every time we read it, and when we can look out our window and behold a leafy oak tree growing in the backyard. Love is present in myriad forms. This doesn't mean we shouldn't ask for the appreciative embrace or remind our mate that we need a candlelit dinner without the frisky kids. It doesn't mean we don't experience bliss in that moment that someone special, someone beloved, takes us in their arms. It does mean that the giving of love is the same as the receiving of love, and the capacity for love is its own reward. Just to be aware of waiting and longing means our hearts are alive and soulful. We're lucky to be waiting for love. That too is a form of love.
More About Immortal:
Delta I January 29, 2008 I 528 Pages
US $14.00 I 978-0385339742 I 0385339747
Traci L. Slatton lives in Manhattan with her husband, sculptor Sabin Howard, whose classical figures and love for Renaissance Italy inspired her to write Immortal, a novel set in that time.
©2007 Traci L. Slatton
After you have had a few dates with someone and you think it might be going somewhere, you begin to ask more serious questions about their childhood, family, job etc.
Eventually the relationship might progress to where the really tough questions must be asked. Like "have you ever slept with someone without using a condom" or "how much debt do you have"? There is no easy way to bring up these questions.
1000 Questions for Couples: What you absolutely must know about the person you are with is going to make those difficult questions much easier to ask.
The questions start off easy like "Has anyone dear to you died? How did you handle it" and "About what things are you most selfish." They slowly progress (just like your relationship should) until you get to those questions that you simply can't avoid if you are going to commit your life to living with someone.
If you value your relationship, I urge you to ask these 1000 Questions for Couples.
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