When you’ve been heartbroken one too many times, you begin to see love as a grenade that blows your heart to smithereens, somewhere midway between sliding out of your own chest and into the hands of the one you believed would keep it safe.
You begin to see love as a kind of comatose state where your beloved is your only life support and has the power to pull the plug on the commitment he never intended to keep anyway.
In short, you see love as everything that, ultimately, ends in pain. Like an ever-ticking bomb that shan’t rest quiet until it has exploded. Like an unequal wrestling match where one person’s taking all the hits. Like being left on the precipice of a cliff, in the dark, blindfolded.
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But love isn’t always a dish that leaves one with a sour aftertaste one cannot shake, even after multiple rinses. It is only when the love-broth is hastily patched up over an intense fire, with a fast-streaming sprinkling of expectations, needs, demands, wishes, desires and perhaps, just a dash of instant gratification that it turns bitter. The sweetest loves are those that happen slow.
Suggested read: This is how I love you
As a culture, we romanticize the hell out of falling in love, fast and hard, head over heels, so much so that we expect, nay demand that the first-meeting butterflies-in-the-stomach keep fluttering at the same pace, through and through. We believe in love as some sort of magic potion that is being constantly manufactured within our bodies, so it can keep the charm (and the fluttering) alive- without any understanding that love, like all good things, needs work. And you don’t rush good things. You take your time with them, because it matters. It is special. It means something.
Our fast-paced lives have, perhaps, turned us all into a lost cause for anything that needs a slow growth. But isn’t love worth it? Hasn’t it always been?
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I want to declare that it is okay to make our peace with slow. I want to declare that it is okay to not try and make something, anything of your own tangle of feelings, only because you have no patience to wait and find out what else it could be. I want to declare that it is okay to be scared and feel lost in an uncertain web of ‘what if’s,’ and ‘where it’s going.’ That it is okay to feel unsure about falling in love.
Where does certainty take us, anyway? I lived most of my life building a rosy picture of the love story I wanted, instead of looking at the one that was right in front of me. What did I get? Heartbreak. Pain. Unbearable misery.
We are so fixated on constructing our happy ending that we forget we don’t need the end, at all.
Isn’t love all about beautiful middles- the ones that stretch on and on, until the end becomes an impossibility? Love is NOT about that brash beginning that makes your heart swell with passion or the rushed end that breaks it. Love is NOT about the maddening fire that melts your insides, nor about someone, anyone that decides to catch us, should we fall hard. Love is NOT about rushing past the journey, to arrive at some destination, if only it entails holding someone’s hand to get there.
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Love is about finding someone who will be there, through the journey should bad roads give your vehicle a flat tire. Love is about being with someone who knows what it is to show up, and be there should the rains come pouring down and the darkness threatens to swallow you whole. Love is about deciding whether you are ready to give as much love as you wish to receive.
And perhaps, our generation has lost the ability to do just that. Kent Nerburn aptly sums it as…
“…is where many lovers go wrong. Having been so long without love, they understand love only as a need. The first blush of new love is filled to overflowing, but as their love cools, they revert to seeing their love as a need. They cease to be someone who generates love and instead, become someone who seeks love. They forget that the secret of love is that it is a gift, and that it can be made to grow only by giving it away.”
So, maybe we should pause and take a good, hard look at love. And loving.
Maybe love isn’t about falling head over heels at all. Maybe love isn’t about raging fires and swelling hurricanes. Maybe love isn’t all shooting over the moon and getting sprawled across the starry skies.
Maybe love is real only when it is slow. The kind of slow that makes you wonder if you are getting way too excited where you’ve been hurt before. The kind of slow that does not expect the butterflies in your tummy to tickle and turn, but instead, feel safe in a haven where they can spread their wings and soar.
And maybe, just maybe, when they do begin to fly, they can soar atop jagged snowy mountaintops and perch on the edge of a crescent moon, allowing the light from its luminous being to drip slowly and steadily in your love nest- as they trace your love story in the stars, for forever.
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Because when you are falling in love, slowly, you can be sure that the flame that started slow shall continue to stay lit long after the fast ones have gone out. It wasn’t there to compete and it didn’t burn any less brighter- it just stayed. Isn’t what all of us want of love, anyway?
And guess what, if it IS true, it will stand the test of time.
Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License