August 19 - Love and Romance

Imagine a beautiful moment between a human and a horse. The woman who visits the stud to choose a filly and comes home with the troubled gelding who called to her from his isolation paddock. A chance meeting, she cant explain why, but they just connected. An instinctual and instant mutual understanding where their eyes met and she knew, that’s my horse.

That same romantic scene where fate binds you to a soul which becomes part of your life is echoed in human relationships. It’s all Disney’s fault of course. Person meets person, perhaps a chance situation, some drama maybe, then their eyes met and they felt an overwhelming tangible pull, and they skipped off together into the sunset and lived happily ever after.

No mention in “romance” of any hard times to come. It’s not allowed – true love, true connection, should be effortless, shouldn’t it? You should just miraculously understand each other and be able make each other happy, shouldn’t you?

No room in the romantic scene for the woman to get the gelding home and find he wont settle in his beautifully fenced new paddock. No room for the gelding to have an upset tummy from a traumatic journey and bite her late that evening. Romance does not tell of the heavy weeks where the gelding and the woman do not connect, where it’s hard and she wonders if she has done the right thing. No mention of the arduous journey that might follow that one beautiful moment.

Similarly in human relationships, the notion of romance holds up an impossible standard. That because you are in love, you should not find fault with the other person, you should miraculously know how to live together without any work effort or compromise.

Alain De Botton, a Swiss born philosopher, theorises that this romantic ideal could be the cause of the problems in a lot of modern relationships. If love is supposed to conquer all, to fill voids, to heal wounds, to be this unwaivering connection where you see no flaws in another – aren’t you just setting yourself up for disappointment?

There is a fine line between loving enough to see past imperfection, and assuming that love will remove imperfection. We are all imperfect, we are all weird and awkward and a little bit nuts. Romance says we shouldn’t be able to see those things in each other, and if we do see them, that they shouldn’t matter. Love on the other hand says I see your crazy, and you are quite irritating sometimes, but I will work with you, and I will teach you about my crazy, and we will find a way to make a life together.

Of course it is even easier to romanticise with a horse. A horse cant talk, it will stand there, gazing into your eyes, and you will put your arms around it, and you can believe it’s meant to be. It’s not going to leave dirty underwear on the bathroom floor, it’s not going to come home after a hard day and snap at you because it got stuck in traffic, it’s not going to tell you a hard truth about yourself that you don’t want to hear (yes, your bum does look big in that).

But having this great pedestal to fall from, just makes the fall harder when it happens. Because even the horse that suits you down to the ground, and that everything seems to go right with, will have an off day where it kicks out at a fly and gets you, the day when it spooks and ditches you, the day when it wont be caught, the day it comes in from the field with an injury that means more hard work and worry than you ever bargained on dealing with.

I am not suggesting you go out and start picking fault with your horse, or your partner, or that you completely denounce any spiritual or deep connection as being romance. What I am suggesting, and I will let you know if I ever get there myself, is that you keep sight of the reality of love. Sometimes, love is hard work. Sometimes, love doesn’t work out. Sometimes, your horse (or your partner) will confound the crap out of you, but from those moments where it seems the spell has been broken, comes learning, understanding and arguably, a much deeper and more real connection than you had before.

Down with romance, up with love.