Weak Arms

This is the last month I will let this late blog post business fly. I apologize for the tardiness. I have been finishing up some things and slimming down many projects, so I can focus more time on the things that are most important to me and in turn most important to all of you.

A while back, a friend of mine posted this picture to Facebook that hit on something I wanted to talk about at length. It was a screen shot of a text message saying (in short) that love isn’t supposed to be a by chance arrangement. That we are supposed to work for the love that we want to give. It is in the same vein as those posts about the older generation saying “when something was broken we fixed it, not threw it away.” The mentality comes from the same place.

I’m not saying that love is something that can be achieved by nothing but dedication and hard work, because there are tons of aspects to it that are rarely seen as a whole picture. There is the one side that believes everything in their life comes down to fate, because they allowed themselves to believe in destiny the way it was fabricated. I don’t fault them, it’s hard to accept life the way it is. It’s a struggle to understand that the things that happen are all accidents with a greater purpose behind them. I’d go more in depth but I would overstay my welcome on this post, so I’ll save it for one in the future.

On the other hand, you have a group of people who believe that relationships and love are not worth it because of the work that they require. Which, I have felt before. There have been times in everyone’s lives I think where we felt scared by how attracted we were to someone. We worry about the fear of rejection, the possibility that they will ruin us in the long run. So many other things, so they will walk away from it.

Then a third party who understands love on a higher level than everyone else it seems, because their love lives are perfected on the outside. To the world they show this happy picture when the truth of their relationship is generally much uglier because they fell into the attraction, but forgot to sustain the feelings that come along.

I don’t claim to be a part of any of these groups, but that doesn’t mean I don’t fit in. Still, I’m not here to talk about me today. I’m here to talk about all of us.

There is a growing trend in the world around us, where people seem to think that love happens on accident. That it is the kind of thing we see in movies, we will walk into a library or a coffee shop (or a bar) and they will see this super attractive hallmark looking person who will steal their heart and sweep them out the front door so that they can live off this perfect world inside their own minds. This scenario might seem attractive from the outside but there is one thing that has been overlooked. What about the bad days? The nights where your wife got too drunk at a party and puked all over the place. When you have pissed her off to the point where she storms away from you in order to keep from hitting you. When one of you loses your job. When family members pass away. When life starts to shed its happy days and things get real, where will you find yourself?

That’s when love really matters. Not in the moments of happiness and comfort. When we find ourselves in those difficult times and we don’t remember that we love the other person, we find ourselves in a trap of our own design. Love is work. It is always work. Sure, it starts out easily, you think they’re cute, then nice, then you realize you are attracted to them, then they are dating and you both get married and the world suddenly becomes a real thing. Bills, children, fights, attachment and separation rear their heads and suddenly you can’t live in an imaginary world anymore.

It sucks, because that imaginary world is special. We want so badly to hold onto it and to keep it near us but life will not allow that.

So here, when your relationships becomes more than memes and transparent feelings is when you both are put to the true test.

I believe that love starts with attraction. You meet a cute girl and get her number and begin talking, then suddenly you realize how much you enjoy her company and succumb to that attraction. Beyond that, it only becomes love if you understand that at one point you will have to get off your ass and do something about that love.

I feel as if I have been writing in circles through this blog post, so I want to simplify what I’m saying to you.

A long time ago, my parents both told me something independently that has guided my way through relationships and through life. When I was a boy, my mom told me that I shouldn’t date a girl who can’t pee on a sagebrush. It’s crude, sure, but it means something. That girl would be willing to go camping, to rough it, and what she really meant by that I think, is that I shouldn’t date a girl who is afraid of getting dirty or who is afraid of being in a place where amenities aren’t right there. For a while my parents lived out of their motorhome. You can imagine that it wasn’t easy for them, but they had one another. They loved each other and they continued loving each other, because they chose to do so. The motorhome wasn’t that bad then. It was work, but then again, everything is work.

A while afterwards, I was talking to my dad about a girl and about love, and he said something that was a bit cruder than peeing on a sagebrush, but it cemented in my memory and has since become something I remind myself of always. He told me that when I am looking at a relationship partner, I should ask myself if I would be able to wipe their ass and bathe them if they couldn’t do it themselves. Another straightforward comment that carried a double meaning. (As I’ve grown, I’ve come to realize that my parents have done this to me a lot.) Which basically says that when I’m pursuing someone, I need to remember that things won’t be great. She will get sick, she will one day, not be able to take care of herself. If I can do that still, then it is my job to take care of her too. He told me this, I think at the time to sway me away from the girl I was interested in, but he did so much more than that because now when I look to date a woman, I see her and I place myself in a different pair of shoes. The shoes I would wear if she was crippled. If she was incapable of caring for herself, would I care for her? It shows me how I truly feel about someone, because if I hesitate and decline, then I know I don’t love them, because I am not willing to put up with the disgusting and the uncomfortable, for beauty and comfort.

It speaks volumes to me when I hear of couples who stay together after one of them suffers some kind of tragedy. Getting paralyzed especially. I think that it would do all of us well to look at these people, it would do all of us well to consider these two thoughts about our possible partners. Would we be willing to clean them and care for them if something were to happen? Would we be willing to rough it with them if we were at a loss? If either of those questions were a no, then I think you should reconsider your decision.

People today have a real big problem in life, even myself. I don’t want to let you think I am somehow above it just because I am the one writing it out. We care so much about appearances and how we look that we forget to address how we feel and think. I see it so often. Friends in terrible relationships but they want the world to think that everything is swell. People getting involved and trying to sustain that involvement just because they think the other party is attractive. I think it all comes back to one thing, really. Selfishness. Perhaps pride, too. I know I’ve experienced them both in my journey.

It is as if we can’t bear the weight of loving anything more than we love ourselves. We exist to serve only our selfish desires and mindset, seeking fulfillment. When the harsh reality of it is that love is not always beautiful and romantic. It is bloody. It is difficult. It is painful. But through all of the awful, we can still harness and thrive in the goodness that it produces. If we were to look past the guise that we set up for ourselves, to really inspect the fragile windows that we constructed to view the outside world with our own shallow minds, then we would see and truly understand that the love we think we so desperately crave is not truly love at all. It is selfishness, and greed, pinned and wrapped in linen reserved for romantics. We could all use a lesson, from our older generation, I think. Those who taught us to work and to stay committed, instead of breaking our arms under the weight of our own pride and running as soon as things begin to look unfavorable. No one knows how this life is supposed to work, so why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to have all of the answers? Is it because we are afraid of being vulnerable, or is it something deeper than that?

Expose yourself. Begin to understand who you really are, and I will too. Though it is a lot of work, there is nothing like loving someone with everything you have, through the good, the bad, and through everything. It is magical.

Thank you for reading “The Movement, Noose Ends” on Gravity My Enemy. I am honored to have your attention if only for a few minutes every week. Remember, new blog posts every Wednesday and Friday from here on out!

For updates and information about new projects and this blog, follow @alvatobiasbooks on Twitter + Facebook!

Mean Shadows, my latest book, comes out Dec. 24th! Don’t miss this, it’s arguably the most important thing I have written to date. You can pre-order here. (Pre-orders in before the 18th will arrive before Christmas Day!)

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