“Love is a striking example of how little reality means to us.”
As an author, I read a lot. As a reader, I think a lot. As a romance reader, I think about love a lot – an unfortunate amount, my friends might say. What is it made of? Hormones? Pheromones? Something less tangible? How reliable is it? Does it fade over time? There’s no limit to the number of questions a love-addled brain can produce in a single episode of insomnia, and no end of disastrous love stories that have failed to answer them correctly.
So, why do we keep trying?
C.S. Lewis wrote about four different types of love and how they intersect and fluctuate across the human life cycle. His essential conclusion was that familial love is defining, spiritual/religious love is necessary, passionate love (aka lust) is powerful yet fleeting, and companionship is forever. Thus, since companionship is the one that lasts, we should all marry our best friends, right? Admittedly, if we did, the divorce rate might go down. The birth rate might also go down since many of us, myself included, have exactly zero desire to see our BFFs naked.
What’s the answer, then? Why are we drawn to bad boys? Why, despite our mother’s very sage advice never to go into a relationship thinking you can fix/save/reform the guy, do we continue to seek out “tragically misunderstood” quasi-criminals who really just need an opportunity to redeem their souls? Are we that naïve? That hopeful? That delusional?
The answer is yes. Yes, we are.
You see, despite what you may think about reality, it doesn’t exist. Not the way you see it, anyway. Your life is a story you tell yourself. Sometimes you tell it to others, leaving out the boring parts, of course. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Since the dawn of recorded history, the world has belonged to storytellers. Those who recount the history control the legend. They can turn the tide of a battle with a single sentence. They can create or destroy a happy ending with little more than a word. Since childhood we’ve hungered for stories – bedtime stories, fairy tales, songs about itsy-bitsy spiders. Is it any wonder that, when we grow old enough to be the hero of our own life-tale, we would seek out a good story for ourselves? Each and every one of us was born to slay the dragon, save the village, and solve the magical equation that will heal the world. And don’t forget how, on the path to saving the world, we’ll also teach that quasi-criminal the error of his ways and reform him into the heroic, adoring prince we know he can be.
Love is not rational.
If it were, I’d be happily married to whoever my mother picked for me (Did I mention she knows everything and is always right?), surrounded by well-behaved children and probably planning my next Disney vacation. But no, love doesn’t make sense. Love is an appetite, and an insatiable one. Love is a story we tell ourselves. Proust also wrote that it’s our own imagination which is responsible for love, and not the other person. The object of our affection – boyfriend, girlfriend, or crush – is merely a character we created, and often one to whom we have neglected to attribute flaws and failings. So, ultimately, all love is self-love.
But – but that’s SO unsatisfying!
Love doesn’t exist? It’s just a bunch of chemicals and self-deception? It’s all a big fat lie? What kind of romance author thinks that???
😉 Not this one, I assure you.
You see, the world is not only an endless canvas waiting to be painted with the brilliant colors of your life story, it’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy. Inside of every frog, there exists a prince, just as within every prince, there dwells a frog. Ambiguity is built into human nature, and sometimes, believing in something can give it the courage to step forward.
This is why we read. This is why we seek happy endings. This is why we work so very hard to craft our own adventures with our own happy endings. Have you ever noticed how memory is often much more fun than the actual event? It’s because we view our memory through love-goggles. We forgive its faults and failings. We see the past with new, loving eyes.
Isn’t it possible to see each other this way?
In true circular fashion, I’ll end as I began, with another quote from Proust. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
You are the author of your life. You write your love story every day.
Grab your pencil.
About Cecily White
Cecily Cornelius-White, Psy.D. makes a habit of avoiding boredom whenever possible. She has enjoyed careers as a hand model, GAP salesgirl, movie projectionist, psychotherapist, yoga instructor, university professor, artist, dance choreographer, eating disorders specialist, psych diagnostician, book reviewer and copy editor. None of which are as much fun as writing novels.
She currently lives in Springfield, MO with two FABULOUS kids, a schizophrenic yet well-mannered cat, and rockin’ cool hamster named Merlin. She can swear in Klingon, take down an alien aggressor using only her mind (or a pair of chopsticks), and kill giant spiders without getting schmutz on her shirt.
When not singing to herself, she spends time creating new worlds and thinking up ways to make this one better….
About CONSPIRACY BOY
Nobody said senior year was going to be easy, but I wasn’t expecting pure hell, either. That’s right. HELL.
Demons attacking. Cheerleaders screaming. Vampires and werewolves asking where the bathroom is. Just another day here at St. Michael’s Guardian Training Academy. It wouldn’t be so bad if the administration would let me get back to my demon-slaying duties like every other angelblood on campus. But with my bondmate Jack promoted to head trainer, my annoying fiancé Luc trying to start a political uprising, and that pesky prophecy still floating around predicting I’m going to kill everyone I love…well, let’s just say “complicated” took on a whole new meaning.
But things are looking up.
If I can survive Luc’s deadly Sovereign Trials and keep my evil twin sister from starting a war, Jack and I might actually have a chance of saving the world. If not, at least I won’t have to worry about what to wear to prom.
All’s fair in love and war. Let the games begin.