For many years I have explored the phrase “I Love You”. You see I am a fairly romantic man and have always had a belief in the blissful existence of “The One”. You know, your soul mate, your perfect match, your true love, that one person that completes your heart’s desire. That individual that will give you those tummy butterflies for the rest of your life.
Yes, I believed in love, but I had yet to find it.
I think it was when I started to realize that my marriage wasn’t ‘it’ that I really started to question. When my marriage finally dissolved and I was faced with the fact that my wife was not ‘The One’ for me, nor was I ‘The One’ for her I was forced to tackle this question head on. This is an article that has been brewing for about a year now. I have had these discussions with many of you. It has been interesting to hear a variety of conflicting opinions on the subject. Many still believe in ‘The One’, the ‘Soul Mate’, which is wonderful and a beautiful thing. Given the way I am wired, I always like to push the question, challenge and ask why. Why does that belief exist. Is it simply blind faith in a romantic notion or is there some logic behind it? What evidence do we have to support that belief.
When I first wrote my article “Embrace the Suck” I talked about ‘The Suck’ being temporary, that emotions are fleeting. The more we embraced and experienced the negative emotions the faster they would dissipate. They came and they went. Adhering to this idea allows us to more easily get through setbacks in our lives if we can look at those times as temporary road bumps and not permanent obstacles in our path. While this notion is useful when it comes to dealing with negativity in your life, it becomes problematic when we use the same theory in the context of love. This dilemma really had me stumped. Is there truly “The One” or is it simply “The Next One”?
Let’s assume that we can agree on the concept of there being a soul-mate out there for you. That there is in fact, The One. What happens when The One is taken away from you unexpectedly? Does this mean that you are done? That you are doomed to never love again? That, I refuse to believe.
So my ‘conclusion’ thus far? Keeping in mind that this is a journey not a destination and my ‘conclusion’ could in fact be dead wrong. Does this mean that we should love less? That we should become more guarded and careful with who or how we love? I would argue that it means the exact opposite. That we should love more, not less.
This was one of the things that Colleen and I discussed at length, and I think it was actually on our first date. I asked her this very question. Did she believe in “One true love”. Like me she wasn’t sure. She too had had many events in her life that lead her to the same questions. It was during this conversation that she said something simple, but something that will stay with me forever. When I asked her about her philosophy on Love she replied that she believed in “Loving with an open heart, and with open eyes”. This spoke to me. As someone who had closed their heart for close to three years after the dissolution of my marriage I recognized this phrase as the answer that I had found only a short time before our meeting. To me this phrase summed it all up for me very eloquently. Despite your past, despite your fears, despite the risk to your heart, simply Love. Boom!
Love with an open heart and with open eyes.
So do I believe in “The One”, my “Soulmate”? I don’t know. I do know however that I am going to Love with an open heart and with open eyes. That I am going to treat everyone in my life that I love like they are “The One”.
So why do I think “I Love you” is bullshit?
Well, I want you to imagine this with me. If you have someone you share that romantic love with, if you are fortunate enough to have found your soulmate, think about how much you love them. How does that make you feel? How does the love that you share with them make them feel?
Now I want you to come with me to a world where the phrase “I Love You” does not exist. Your feelings haven’t changed but you do not have those three little words to use as your crutch. How would that change things?
You see I was married for 13 years and pretty much daily said “I Love You” to my ex-wife. “I Love You” is bullshit. Those three little words are meaningless. I’ve taken them away. What will you do now? Will your loved one know that they are loved? Will they know it any more or less than they do now while you have those words in your vocabulary? What about your children? Same applies.
I fear we live in a culture where we always look for the easy way out. Where we are always looking for shortcuts and trying to find the path of least resistance. When it comes to Love, “I Love You” is the easy way out. Love is the most powerful emotion in the universe. Why would we let ourselves take the easy way out?
I feel fortunate that I was able to experience Love. Love without words. That I had the opportunity to show Love not just speak it. Please don’t misunderstand. I did a lot of things wrong that contributed to my marriage ending but like any failure I try hard to learn from it.
When Colleen was taken from me I could at least take some solace in the fact that I said I love you without words on a number of occasions.
Here are a couple of examples of how I ‘said’ “I Love You”.
On the Tuesday before she left us she stayed overnight at my house. I was fast asleep but she got up at about 3am, came over to my side of the bed, kissed me and told me she was going to drive home because she had not been able to sleep for the last little while (she had to be home early anyhow). I sat up, moved over and made room for her and invited her to lay down for a minute concerned that something was bothering her. She lay down on her stomach beside me and I sat and gently rubbed her back simply being together. She eventually fell back asleep and we finished the nights sleep together. She did not hear “I Love You”, she felt, sensed and knew “I Love You”.
In late August we went to Penticton together since I had a half iron distance triathlon to participate in. Colleen was an avid climber. Penticton has some fantastic climb sites 20 minutes out of the city. Given her passion for climbing it was an opportunity I could not pass up. The problem? My race was Sunday and we had to leave on Tuesday which meant the only window for climbing was Monday the day after my half iron distance race. Needless to say my body was not in prime shape for climbing Monday. I made sure however that we got out to Skaha and had a fantastic day of climbing. Her soul was alive that day, as was mine. My body hurt but my soul sang. As I was driving during our 11 hour ride home the next day, out of the corner of my eye, I caught her gazing at me with that soft, gentle smile and hearts in her eyes. I looked over, caught her eye and cocked an eyebrow with an inquisitive expression. She beamed, smiling widely “Don’t think it’s lost on me what you did yesterday.” She reached over, squeezed my hand and nuzzled her head into my shoulder as I put my eyes back on the road in front of me. I felt my body melt, smiling contentedly and as the Eagles so aptly put it, I let “that peaceful easy feeling” wash over me.
I can assure you, that day screamed “I Love You” louder than any megaphone, PA system or amplifier I could have ever engaged.
On Colleens birthday I was a little stumped on what to get her. I mean this was a woman that did not value material things. Knowing that her primary passion was climbing I setup a date for us to go to the indoor gym early afternoon with later plans to go out for a nice dinner. Now I was still relatively new to climbing at this time and did not have my “belay check” at the local gym. This meant that she could take me up the wall but I couldn’t take her. So I decided to arrange my schedule such that I could make a trip out to the gym on my own and get “belay checked” without her knowing. When we arrived at the gym she was resigned to “bouldering” (climbing low without a rope) and belaying me. Imagine her delight when we checked in and my profile popped up with a big green check mark beside BELAY on the system. It was a very small gesture but one that I know moved her. Once again, I said what I needed to say without using any words whatsoever.
I could give you a number of other examples but I think you get the point. So do I know if there is a “soulmate”, “The One” or a “Forever Love” for me? I have no freaking idea but what I do know is that the words I love you are bullshit. If you need them to convey the message of how you feel to those you love then I am certain you are going to have a problem.
So for me, until I can find a better way, I will do my best to “Love with an open heart and with open eyes”.
How do you say “I Love You” without words?