“A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.” -Emily Dickinson
While I’ll profess to spending a considerable amount of time each week staring at a digital screen, punching keys while writing my blog posts and other side projects, I simply cannot overestimate the genuine authenticity for a hand-written letter. Thankfully, my best friend shares the same notions as me, and, therefore, we write regular correspondences between the two of us. As ironic as it sounds, I feel as though we’ve grown somewhat closer since I moved away, as we have successfully made the concerted effort to write to each other nearly daily, providing detailed accounts of all the goings-on in our lives.
As the self-labeled hopelessly hopeless romantic, I also spend a considerable time writing, reading, listening, and talking about love of all varieties, whether it be magical, love-at-first-sight, unrequited love, selfless love, enduring love, obsessive love, selfish love, etc. I find it refreshing, then, when others share their stories and offer exceptional advice on the matter, which is just what my dear friend gifted to me in a recent letter. I knew at once I had to share her wise words, as they fit so perfectly with the theme in which I attempt to convey.
As a bit of a preface for the sake of context, this particular letter was written as a reply to one I sent in which I was, once again, I know, I know, lamenting about a lost love from my past. Read the contents below:
“I know that you wonder about him. You cared for him so you probably will always have room for him in your heart, or who you thought he was, or even who you wanted him to be. That’s what makes being human so hard. We make things, especially people, out to be more than they are in our hearts, our heads. So when they show themselves to be different than those expectations, we put on blinders and often refuse to accept it. This only worsens after connections end, when the heart purges any negative memories and pushes the positives forward in your mind’s eye. Believe me, it’s part of life. True love does last forever, but all too often we fall in love with an idea of what we think a person is, not their actual form.”
This brings me to the point of this week’s post. She is absolutely right. Just the other night, I was watching one of the millions of adaptations of the classic, yet done-to-death fairy tale of Cinderella. We are all familiar with the story about the poor girl in rags who, with the help of her magical fairy godmother, gets to put on a beautiful ball gown and attend a dance. While there she happens upon the bachelor prince and the two fall in love after sharing a single dance, never speaking in some cases, and ultimately end up happily-ever-after.
The romantic in me as always swooned at the notion, finding it to be such a perfect, natural occurrence. This fairy-tale set the stage for my own expectations, thinking I’d find somebody and we’d fall in love within the first five minutes, being married within the week. (Okay, I’m obviously not that naive, but you get the idea). For the first time, however, I found myself laughing at the fallacy of such an idea, pointing out all the problems. For heaven’s shakes, they know nothing about each others personalities, desires and ambitions, background, or even hobbies. Instead, it was a moment of lust spurned by an intimate three-minute dance; a vapid infatuation based solely on physical attraction. It makes a mockery of love by trivializing the much more important prior factors.
Now, I’m not one of those people who seek to blame fairy-tales for brainwashing children (usually little girls, but hey look at me XD) into the antiquated order of social status within the family unit, but it is important to have age-appropriate conversations, especially with impressionable children, about the realities of fairy-tale love. I find Act II of Into the Woods to delightfully dig into what happens after happily-ever-after.
Above all else, I do agree tenfold with the point about how easy it is for one to fall in love with the idea of a person, shaping them in one’s mind to be something that might not be completely accurate. I think the way to combat this is to always remain practical, take time to reflect on this person’s true qualities and discover who they truly are on the inside before making commitments of any kind, and above all else, open and honest communication all the way.
Reader’s, please share your thoughts on the subject below. What advice can you share to ensure to mark the distinction between loving a person vs. loving an idea?