Growing up is all about milestones. Taking your first steps. Uttering your first words. Going for your fist haircut. Loosing your first tooth. Your first day of school. Going on your first holiday. Sleeping at a friend’s house for the first time. Drinking your first beer. Finishing school. Starting at your first job. Buying your first car. Moving into your first house.
Usually at this point, somewhere in between these milestones of growing up, something happened, another milestone underestimated too often. Something that changes the course of our lives in a significant yet subtle way. Something that shapes us and helps us find our true selves between all the rules, the expectations and the disappointments. Something that we cannot grow up without.
Somewhere in between the milestones of growing up, we find our big romance.
It is different for everyone. Some people experience it when they fall in love for the first time. Some with the person they have sex with for the first time. Others find it in their first long-term relationship, or with someone who encourages them to think about the future for the first time.
The truth is that finding your big romance is not about any of these things. It’s not about love, or sex. It’s not about time or the future. In fact, I dare to say it has nothing to do with relationships at all. Romance and relationships are worlds apart.
Relationships are a construct we create in our lives that caters to our needs. It gives us someone who will take care of us, and someone for us to take care of. It takes away the loneliness of life which swallows us so easily. It is the opportunity to give and receive security, comfort and fellowship.
Romance on the other hand, is a sense, a feeling, a dream, a lifestyle. It is the lens we look through at the world. It is the way we do things according to the recognition we would like to receive. It is the pounding of your heart and the knot in your stomach when you experience extreme emotion. It is the mixture of feeling and thought that drives toward certain things. Put simply, it is our perception of perfection.
We can find romance in fine literature, exquisite art, beautiful music, in the pursuit of our dreams and reaching our goals, in passionate love –or hate, in nature, in religion, in the way we carry out our day-to-day tasks. We can find romance in everything.
But once in each lifetime, a wonderful thing happens… we find romance in another person.
It is impossible to describe the feeling that erupts from within when you find someone who thinks, feels and breathes the way you do. A person who can amaze you everyday with something new. A person who wants to get to know you, and who gets you excited about getting to know them. Someone you are completely compatible with, who you can be yourself with without fear. Someone who doesn’t judge you. A person who can and does accept you for who you truly are, instead of basing their acceptance on you becoming who they would like you to be.
This person will share your interest. They will be excited about your dreams and passionate about your successes. They will support your failures, without carrying them for you. They will encourage and inspire you. You will have fun with this person, you will laugh at the jokes only the two of you find funny, you will sing the music only the two of you can love and dance to the rhythm nobody else seems to understand. When things become difficult, this person will be sad and cry with you, they will search for solutions with you, they will be there to lean on. You will feel safe and protected with this person and you will have the comfort of being able to share your insecurities with someone knowing that they will not abuse them. This is someone you can depend and rely on. Someone who is worthy of your trust, because you are worthy of theirs.
Some people call this a sole-mate, others a friend or maybe a lover. Being a born and bread hopeless romantic I believe that this person is nothing more, nothing less, then someone who understands you, and who you can understand, irrelevant of the relationship status between you and them.
Being able to moderately understand another person is something that takes years to develop. Which is why finding someone who you understand completely and who understands you completely is something that can only happen once in a lifetime. It can change the way you perceive the world around you and the things that happen to you in your life. You begin to recognize the things that are truly important to you and to understand why they are important to you. Your dreams become clearer and eventually turn into goals. Most importantly, you begin to get to know and understand yourself better.
The beauty in how a big romance begins is something I can’t help but wonder at. No big romances have ever come to be without a series of lesser, or smaller romances first being experienced. These are the romances we find in things or constructs, and the way we romanticize the feeling we get when we reach a milestone. Pouring effort and passion into a business; dedicating yourself to a task like education and reaping the rewards; getting to know death for the first time. These are some of the ways in which we learn our capacity for romance. And then it happens… we find our big romance.
Too often do big romances meet a tragic end. Be it a change in circumstances, a certain event or life’s interference, a big romance is often too complex to survive even the subtlest of changes, and end.
Abruptly and short lived. Leaving both with a fleeting memory and a peace of brokenness that cannot be healed.
Every now and then, a lucky few find a big romance that lasts a lifetime. They never cease to treasure and appreciate it. They bask in it and thrive off it.
Turning pages, sticking cords, stroking brushes, reciting stanzas, remembering facts and dreaming wildly –not caring about the means of its beginning nor its end –suppressing expectations and building anticipation –I sit patiently awaiting the day when I too will finally find my big romance, and be satisfied.
I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my life the way I feel when I’m with you.
Death is Romantic
Ironically, almost romantically, even though we only find our big romance once in a life time, we are born with the promise of an ultimate romance –the romance of our relationship with death.
Death is unbearably romantic. We are born for the purpose of dying, and ultimately that is how we all will end.
We live in a world where uncertainty brings discomfort, and certainty brings comfort. Death however, is a certainty which leaves us with questions, fear and confusion.
Read those few sentences again, so that you can truly appreciate the beauty of the contrast which death creates.
Death will never let you down… we all will die at some point. We are born knowing this and we spend our entire lives learning to understand it. In all probability, the chances of understanding death fully without experiencing it personally –i.e. dying –are very low. It is only when we die that death embraces us, and begins to understand us, and we truly begin to understand it.