Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Between what is said and not meant, and meant and not said, most of love is lost.

The above quote comes from Khalil Gibran, and it was written about 100 years ago by one of the world’s foremost poets on the subject of love.

They didn’t have text messaging then and there sure as hell was no Tinder, and there was no social media in general to muddy up the waters. It’s not easy in the modern world to understand nuance and context, and I think a lot of feelings get drowned out in the noise of all of our technology.

Even still, this sentiment from a century ago is certainly dead on. I hear it every day in my sessions with people. There is a lot of unspoken love in relationships, but pride, ego, past hurts, and stubbornness make it impossible to voice. So people who sometimes even live under the same roof drift further and further away from each other.

And most of love is lost.

So how in the hell do we correct this problem? James Taylor says “shower the people you love with love, show them the way you feel.” That sounds nice, but also kind of hard and icky for a guy. I’ve seen many similar slogans on Pinterest that sound like they should work, but in reality are a heck of a lot harder.

I had this lesson about love presented to me in a very unusual way. I was taking my first comedy class in Chicago in the summer of 96’ and I was full of aggressive energy. I’d go up on stage, blast everyone around me, get a few big laughs, and then sit down with a satisfied smile. Mission accomplished.

One great teacher wasn’t having it though. Right in the middle of one such scene, he barked “Guse!? Stop!! All you do is run over people. That’s easy and you’re damn good at it. But so what?! For the next month I want you to play the love! Every time you’re about to insult someone I want you to find something to love about them instead. And you should probably do it in your personal life as well. All that comic aggression obviously comes from somewhere!”

It was 10 seconds of feedback with 10 years of psychoanalysis sprinkled in as a bonus.

So for the next month I “played the love.” If I was at Starbucks and the barista spilled coffee all over himself, instead of saying “What is this dumb fuck doing?” I empathized with his bad day. When someone cut in front of me I held my tongue and stepped back and said, “wow you must really be in a hurry.”

It went against every instinct I had.

But I noticed that onstage I was listening a little better, and my grumpy old teacher informed me my scenes were a helluva lot more interesting.

So sometimes I still hear that phrase in my head even all these years later, and I think it’s a good reminder for all of us.

Because love can and does get lost all the time in this world, and most of the time I think it’s for the very reasons Mr. Gibran expressed. A man married for 20 years may simply assume his wife knows he loves her, because after all he goes to work every day to pay for clothes and food and iphones. But he never says it.

And most of love is lost.

Maybe it’s a couple in the heat of an intense argument who say things that they can’t take back because they’re hurt and they want the other person to hurt as much as they are. And things are said like "I hate you" and "I wish I'd never met you!" that are not really meant.

And most of love is lost.

And maybe it’s something as simple as letting relationships slide with our friends and family across the bridges of time and distance. I know this happens to me all the time. People I think the world of and who were a huge part of my life in one incarnation slowly recede into the distance as I leave one life to begin another. Messages fade, phone calls decrease, and soon enough you’re lucky to be exchanging cards every Christmas.

And most of love is lost.

In some cases with me I’ve actually had friends pass away, and boy do I say nice things about them when they’re gone. Glowing praise about all of their wonderful qualities and all of the ways they touched my life.

You know. The shit we never say to people while they’re alive.

So for me I’m going to strive to give a few more living obituaries. To tell people I appreciate our time together, how they’ve impacted my life, and what they mean to me.

I’m not that good at this, so don’t be surprised if I start with a punch on the arm or a noogie or something like that.

But I’m working on playing the love again..