- Doing great Work
- Having great Friendships
- Being in great Love
So there you go--there's the answer. And if you've figured it out by now, nice work.
But here's the kicker: the same somebody-or-other also said that one mortal human can only truly excel at two of those things. You can't perfect all three in your lifetime, no matter how old you get. Bummer.
So, of course this got me thinking about Me. Obviously, I'm never going to do Great Work--I just don't have it in me. And I do have a lot of Great Friendships that I value very much, so that's definitely one of the two. But mostly I'm a person of Great Loves: baroque, ridiculous, Las Vegas-style Loves. It's actually one of the major blessings and nuisances of my life.
And here's how it happens: I feel or see or hear or taste something--a voice, an expression, a particularly well-exectuted kale salad, a pair of boots, a circling hawk, a melody, a room, a color, a certain rustling of leaves on a tree, the texture of a wall, the sound of a particular snare drum, the look on a child's face...and I absorb that thing, that person, that animal, that tree, that music. I take it right into my heart. It's unbelievably inconvenient.
Because it's not an allegiance like Friendship--a compassionate, relaxed attentiveness and shared good will. It's a feeling of possession and belonging that can be uncomfortable in that it feels really good at times--because what feels better than Love? But it can also feel really bad.
Like that one time I got dumped? It took me six years to get totally over it. SIX. I was young, but still--six years is stupid.
But it's not just in relationships with people--everything in this world is temporary, right? I mean, what if that restaurant stops making that salad? That circling hawk is going to fly away in a minute. If I don't buy these too-expensive boots right now, somebody else will. If I listen to this song too much, the magic is going to drain right out of it. That Thing and I belong to each other, and belonging is painful stuff.
Good news: as I've gotten older, I've devised strategies for dealing with Great Love. I can't enumerate them here--but call me, we'll talk. But it doesn't mean I don't fall in love with stuff--it just means I can deal with it better once I do.
Like yesterday I fell in love with Elvis Perkins.
But I'm remaining calm. I suggest you do the same.