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On Love

What with Valentine's Day heralding a new book out proposing women should "settle" for second best, not to mention a self-aggrandizing screed by the ex-wife of the amazing disappearing Republican governor, chronicling the travails of someone who followed that very advice, I felt it auspicious to put in my dissenting views.

Back in the dark ages, a priest once said to me "don't marry someone because they are not religious: people can 'get religion' any time." The same goes for deciding to settle: while both parties may feel, hey, this isn't so bad, I'm probably not going to do better, "practical" love is a pretty flimsy structure. If you decide to settle for second best, you also better be prepared for you or your partner to fall romantically in love with someone else at some point (most often during a Saturn return). (We may joke about the midlife crisis, but it's real and universal.) Sure, it may not happen, but don't feel ripped off if it does, kinda like you don't expect the cheap shoes you picked up at Payless to last more than a season. Be philosophical and appreciate the bargain while it lasted.

Most people who "settle" do so for reasons largely unrelated to love of the partner: be it the desire to reproduce, to enjoy financial security, escape loneliness and boredom or acquire the conventions of societal success. That they are able to find someone reasonably entertaining and not too burdensome or embarrassing seem to be the overriding concerns, though it is socially unacceptable to be quite so bald about it.

Those who "settle" often contend that romantic love is either illusory or temporary and thus not forged over years and hardship. I can tell you from personal experience that romantic love is by far stronger and, while we all must make adjustments when living with someone else, that love is not diminished by the tedium of daily life but becomes richer with the passage of time. Having had that rare opportunity, I still feel not only that it was worth waiting for, I believe it continues to be so, on either side of the Veil of Maya. In fact, I face an uncertain future with greater confidence in part for having lucked out so spectacularly, if all too briefly. I got more than my nickel's worth, whether I die tomorrow or forty years hence.

Regardless of the depth of feeling, people change over time and that may mean growing apart, even in the most loving environment. Loving someone means you have to deal with that change and not try to force someone keep to a bargain struck. If two roads diverge in a yellow wood, loving partners accept that it's time to move on and not try to force their partner to pretend to be something or someone s/he is not. "Yes, but what about my feelings?" Sure breakups are painful but it's better and less painful in the long run for all concerned to accept and move on than it is to maintain a polite fiction. "Forget about forgiving and just accept" is not just a line from a funny movie, it's a serious piece of insight. Change is part of life: as the I Ching says, "no blame."

The bottom line is that all choices have consequences and it's up to us to recognize and accept whatever the consequences be of our True Will. Choices reflect what we value and what we are willing to pay. The least we can do is be gracious when the bill arrives.

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