Always one foot on the ground

– Regina Spektor

I’m 26-years-old. A quarter of a century. Half the age of many I consider my good friends. And already, during my short interval in this thing called life, I have experienced thrice what some never discover: love. The irrationality, the pain, the elation, the addiction, the tranquil contentment, the anxiety, and the unceasing mystery that is love. I have felt it deep in my heart, deep in my bones, and my daily thoughts. But I have never learned how to accept it, embrace it, and understand that it is both everything and enough.

She told me this:

“I can’t get you to see outside of your box, to stop questioning everything, to stop worrying if it’s going to work out or if it’s not or if you’ll be happy or won’t … to just love me and let me love you.”

And there I was, crying in the middle of a crowded internet cafe, lonely as I’ve ever been, and seeing myself stuck in my ignorant box, trapped in my own cage of insecurities. It’s not that I don’t know how to love; I’ve loved well. It’s that I don’t know how to be loved, by one person, and realize that that is all I need.

I thought that the closure – the end, the breaking up – would bring me peace and the felicity of unrestrained freedom. I thought I’d be able to sleep again, that the plum-colored sacks under my eyes would fade away like a bad dream just minutes after waking up.

Instead I continue to walk the dirty, crowded streets of Caracas filled with emptiness and shame. Shame because I let my own fears become defensive anger which I turned on her. Shame because she always treated me so well and that is what scared me the most. Shame because love is a lot of hard work and I am too selfish to invest the time and energy it demands.

She told me that I talk big, that this weblog is full of quotes, vignettes, links, and meditations that profess a life philosophy I don’t actually follow. Maybe she’s right, maybe this collection of words and letters, photos and code is more a reflection of who I would one day like to become. I’ve tried to keep it as honest and candid as possible, but being honest with yourself is the greatest challenge of all.

Though lonely, I don’t feel alone in my inability to love … or to be loved … or maybe those are two sides of the same coin. Many of my guy friends are hesitant about their relationships. They profess to really love their partners and yet they are all unsure about the future. Maybe it is ingrained in our DNA. Perhaps geneticists will one day find a mysterious element on the Y chromosome which prevents all men from submitting to their hearts, from saying, I love you and I’ll always love you and I’ll do whatever needs to be done to make this work.

Or perhaps it is yet another consequence of the era of choice. These days we always have a plan B: another webpage waiting to be clicked, a newer and better iPod, another 1,000 friends waiting to be messaged on our social networking site of choice. And so each decision we make – from what we buy to who we love – is confounded by the thousands of alternatives we are ruling out.

So What Now

The skeptics and my good friends will remind me of the many hungover mornings that I have sworn off alcohol. “You’ll be dating again in no time, girls are always falling for you,” they’ll write, trying to bolster confidence. But I don’t want to date, not just to break up a few months down the road. Not now. Not this year. And not in the foreseeable future.

I can’t agree with Rebecca‘s implied assertion (no link, post was erased) that the need to love and be loved is a societal imposition. Every poem and song and letter since writing was invented tells us it’s much more biological than that. But, like Rebecca, I think that this is the time in my life to concentrate on my work. I’m fortunate enough to make a living doing what I am most passionate about. I am a firm believer that the internet, despite the many obstacles that lie ahead, has the potential to create a new global society where plurality and dialogue trump bigotry and war. And I want to focus my energies on helping usher in that society as quickly as possible.

Love I will seek from my family and friends. Sex … well, I’ll cross that bridge as it arrives. But for now I need to gather my strength, accept my decisions, and focus on the dream of Turtle Island. And one day – when the angst of my ambitions has been soothed – I hope that I find love and accept it as such.

As Joe says, onward.

Song of the Day: Fidelity by Regina Spektor (Right Click, Save As)