Have you ever thought you loved someone, and then your relationship failed for whatever reason, and some time later you fall in love with someone else, and realize that your previous love was just a make-believe love, a childish imitation that you mistook for the real thing––an honest mistake, because you had never felt the real thing before? And yet you still feel a little embarrassed that you thought something so shallow could really be love, that love was simple and weightless, like a single pop song played on repeat until you die. It’s only when you hear the rest of the album that you realize love is so much better than that one hit single, that it’s got moods and movements, sounds that you’ve never heard before, melodies you never thought you would like, but you do, and now they’re stuck in your head. It’s good in a way you didn’t know something could be good.
Imagine getting stuck in that first relationship forever. When it goes bad—and relationships like that always go bad eventually—you simply can’t separate, for whatever reason. You become one of those couples that doesn’t actually seem like they love each other. When you make fun of one another, it sounds like you really mean it. You go on lots of business trips because you don’t have much fun being around your spouse. You get cynical about love and you scoff at every love story and love song because that’s not really what it’s like. Nobody ever actually feels deep, abiding pleasure in another human being, you think, at least not for long.
Or, if you’ve never felt a love like that—imagine that the biggest body of water you’ve ever seen is a dinky little pond and you think, “Yep, that’s about as much water as there can be! There’s nothing deeper or wider than this. Seeing water that stretches onward to the horizon, water that can turn into tidal waves, water that hides giant whales and creatures that have never seen the sun, that’s just a bunch of tall tales.”
And maybe you can be happy sitting next to your pond, so long as you never see an ocean. Maybe when you meet people who tell you about the magnificent oceans they’ve seen, you figure they’re just exaggerating what it’s like to see a pond. “Ah yes, I remember seeing my first pond,” you chuckle. But somewhere deep in your brain, there’s a little twinge of doubt.
I think lots of people are stuck in that first relationship, stuck next to their tiny little pond, skeptical that anything greater exists. But it taPost too long. Click here to view the full text.