April 24, 2014

Finding the Love of Your Life (or Cold Lamb Sandwiches)

I’ve never understood those who believe love is a weakness or somehow mutually exclusive from financial and professional success.  Mind you, I’m not talking about infatuation or being in love with the idea of love, endlessly pursuing the flavor of the week or looking for a never-ending stream of feel-good butterflies and chocolates, but actual honest-to-God love; the mature kind that gives life meaning and is etched in the deepest core of your soul; the type of love that, once you’ve experienced, you can say at the end of the journey, “I lived.” That kind of love is life.

In the film Meet Joe Black, there is a scene in which William Parrish, played by Anthony Hopkins, is talking to his daughter, Susan, about love.  He is concerned she is a marrying a perfectly fine man that isn’t the love of her life.

He tells her, “Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. And I’m not hearing any heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there’s no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven’t lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.”  Later, he goes on to say that it is, “Trust, responsibility, taking the weight for your choices and feelings, and spending the rest of your life living up to them. And above all, not hurting the object of your love. 

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I adore the movie.  In his office, speaking to Death (played by Brad Pitt), Parrish begins talking about his late wife. When I listen to him speak about “cold lamb sandwiches”, and the first time he met his spouse, it’s as if he embodies how I feel. The idea that there are people who go through life without experiencing this, and living it, breaks my heart. I’m one of, if not the, most rational people I know and there is no amount of money or success that could ever compensate for its lack.

I thank God every day, not only did I find it but I found it young. Growing up, my parents would pray over us kids every night and one of the things they prayed for was that God prepared a spouse for us; that somewhere out there, growing up, was the person with whom we would want to go through life hand-in-hand. I didn’t think much of it as a child but when you experience it, it is as if a door gets unlocked and there are parts of you that you didn’t know existed; feelings and emotions that run so deeply you’d forsake all others. To find the person that, were the world ending, you’d be alright as long as you could reach over and grab their hand.

We talk a lot about business on the site. But this. This is the great work of your life. What is the point in “having it all” if there is no one with whom to share it?

How to Know You Found the Love of Your Life

How do you know you’ve met the love of your life?  If you have, you don’t need this list. If you haven’t, there are four signs:

  • No matter where you are, as long as you are with them, you feel like you are home.
  • If you lost everything – your house, job, savings, investments, reputation, career, credentials, family, friends, and pets – but you still had them on your side, you know deep down that it will be alright.
  • You care as much, if not more, about their happiness and contentment as you do your own.
  • He or she feels the same way about you.

Don’t lose sight of what matters. If you trade your personal life for your pocketbook, it’s a terrible deal. They should compliment and augment each other, like jewels in a crown. The right spouse should even make the journey of achieving what you want much easier. You are not just your mind or your balance sheet. Do not neglect the human you. After all, you can’t buy back your life.

  • crabhooves

    It’s interesting how strongly your view contrasts with that woman (who’s name I can’t recall) whose article you linked, about settling and marrying is about finding someone you can stand to run a home with. Do you completely disagree with that? Or maybe only some people can find the love that you’re talking about and the rest should settle?

  • Czech Riot

    “How to know you found the love of your life” is a very, very young-teenage-like sort of thing. The true answer is: you don’t. How many young people “know for sure!” they have found love, only for it to turn out to be an ephemeral illusion?… Many. Many young people. How many people get married out of “real love” and a few years later get a divorce? Meet Joe Black is a great movie. But Cinderella is also a very compelling story… So is Romeo and Juliet. But in Meet Joe Black the “true love” is incredibly ephemeral, and so is in Romeo and Juliet. And most “cute” love stories/movies end at a point where real life begins. The only way to know you found the love of your life is if you can look back at your life and say “hey, I have spent most of my life besides this person who I really like and was always there for me”. So, in general terms, the only way to know if you really suceeded is by actually being at where you once aimed to be.

    • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

      Limerence, which is what you find in Romeo and Juliet or many romantic comedies, is not love, though it is often mistaken for such by those who have never experienced the real thing.

      • Czech Riot

        It’s a semantic issue. And as a matter of fact many disagreements in discussions happen because of a subjective and broad definition of a word, instead of actual different points of view on the matter. Love, strength, honour, truth, God, justice… all words that can have different meanings to different people without any of them being necessarily wrong. So, by your personal definition of (true) love, limerence is not love. But the general (population’s) perception (definition) of the word love is very much (not exclusively) limerance. (I’m keeping the discussion only about romantic love, because, of course, there are all the other love definitions, overused in colloquial speech by most people). Also, limerance is basically a neologism for obsessive infatuation, passion; which is basically the complexity of feelings of adoration and sexual attraction for a person. And that is pretty much how the quote from the movie starts: “Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back…”.
        So the truth (according to me…) is: true love is as true as the person’s own romantic experience fits their own definition of love. And, antagonisms aside, my personal definition of real love is more in accordance with yours, in respect of it being not a strong one-dimensional (or two) attraction, but more of a complex mix of respect, admiration, companionship, sexual attraction, lifestyle, life goals, etc.
        And honestly I find it a quite rare event to be witnessed. My belief is most people adjust their definition to meet what they can accomplish, and learn to love what they have, instead of going after their original definition.
        And indeed Claire Forlani pretty much fulfilled my own definition… but, you know… real life kind of got in my way…

        • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

          I enjoyed this comment a great deal; thank you for it. One of the things that’s been discussed a lot the past couple years in my own life is exactly the point you just made – most people don’t agree on base definitions. We even ran a test on friends and family using one of the words you mentioned – God – to see how, exactly, they defined it. It was shocking that people weren’t even on the same page about what, exactly, they think God is, so many disagreements were really misunderstandings.

          I’ve been meaning to write about it forever. Maybe I’ll dust off the draft and start working on it, again. It’s one of my favorite truths about the world that most people don’t seem to realize.

          It, and differentials in expectations between two parties that are only clarified once someone feels disappointed, are responsible for so much social conflict.