Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What is it about love that we miss?

Browsing new book titles, I was drawn to choose The Moment. Two days later, I got an email from my first love. Coincidence has a way of bringing things into perspective.

Certainly Douglas Kennedy's novel of a tragic Cold War love affair in Berlin has far more drama and greater historic context than my teenaged broken heart, yet the essence of nascent passion and misguided ending prove the universality of tragedy's roots.

The ironic crux of ordinary heartbreak (extraordinary circumstances not withstanding) is more than that love can be discovered in an instant and, despite its intensity, end. When not just romance but the entire relationship is suddenly severed, the tragic crux is one utterly banal truth: every inexplicable ending is avoidable. In a universe of perfect communication, none of the drama or burden or pain would have been necessary.

But we live in an imperfect universe, and decades of silence hid bittersweet truth from me as well as the novel's protagonist. Imagined betrayal, more toxic than proven faithlessness, ensnares us in flawed perception and ineradicable outrage. Persuaded to believe our own fallibility at seeing reality (How could I have been so wrong about my beloved?) plunges us only deeper into that very fault. Without air-clearing confrontation, we're left in a fog of self-doubt, leaving us ever-marred by self-inflicted insecurity.

And if we learn the truth we once failed to recognize, it's tempting to wallow in the lacerating abyss of old heart shards. But such self-flagellation will only compound old errors with new wounds.

If instead we make the best current choices to alleviate any ongoing suffering (for both ourselves or any still-affected other), we mitigate present consequences. Whatever amends are possible today can never fix the past, but when we unknot negativity still tying up our hearts, energy is freed to grow beyond old possibilities into righted wrongs.

So though we may have missed the choice of love in the past, we'll never miss forgiven regret and resentment when we reclaim energy for today's much more effective new potential.

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