How much really decent romance are you enjoying these days?
We may perhaps acknowledge “not much,” and for so many reasons; we’re tired, our lives are fragmented, we spend little uncluttered, reflective and peaceful time (less than 1%) with our spouse; we’re in conflict, behind, perhaps overwhelmed, and not overly hopeful. Romance? Maybe it finds a way to seep in just a bit when we’re on holiday, or while out for a rare dinner together. We may have just accepted this poverty as inevitable.
Does it matter?
How much real romance do we see around us? And I mean not just couples obviously enjoying each other, but in life in general?
Remember, romance is not only an “ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people,” but also “a strong, sometimes short-lived attachment, fascination, or enthusiasm for something” and also “a mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful…” (the Free Dictionary by Farlex)
What interests, pursuits and experiences from your past week could be described in this way? Are you enjoying much of this kind of “romance” at the moment? Could you make a list of the things from the past few days that had this look and feel to them, or is one week blurring into the next, as we try to get through our lists and past the next challenges?
We may discover that it is not only the “ardent emotional involvement” (i.e. with your spouse) kind of “romance” which is suffering, but also this larger experience of regularly enjoying the fascinating, the appealing, the new, the mysterious and the adventurous in our day-to-day lives.
Jan and I talked about this notion of a truly “romantic life” over coffee at Starbucks (Polo Park) this morning. We were reading from an old diary of a family holiday we took a couple years ago, and noted how much of this exciting and so pleasureable romance we enjoyed with each other and with our boys over just a few days, compared with the sometimes seemingly endless weeks of schedules and tasks which make up our “regular” life.
Hmm. More holidays? Perhaps.
During this holiday we were remembering our visit to the birthplace of the brilliant English composer, Edward Elgar (1857-1934) nestled beneath the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, England.
Elgar lived passionately, produced an enormous amount of music, and was busy beyond imagination. However, for much of his life “…every day, after lunch, he went for a very long walk, or bike-ride, from about 1 – 4 p.m.”
One note in the museum, next to a picture of Elgar on his bike quotes his wife Alice;
“…Our cycling trips began in earnest after Gerontius… There cannot have been a lane within twenty miles of Malvern that we did not ultimately find … to Upton, to Tewkesbury or Hereford, to the Vale of Evesham … to the lovely village on the west side of the hills … as we rode, he would often become silent and I knew that some new melody or, more probably, some new piece of orchestral texture, had occurred to him.”
Do you go for a three hour walk or bike ride most afternoons? Ah, of course, for all sorts of reasons we don’t have this luxury. But how sad that our world has changed so much, that this kind of reverie and regard for the present seems now quite impossible. So full are our lives, so committed, so intense, so driven, so responsible, and so varied, that we truly have no room for this kind of “romance.”
What romance can we bring back into our lives this coming week?
Not only in some sweet encounter with our beloved, but also in the way we carry ourselves through all the hours before us? How might we, in the words of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s classic book, begin to “Romance the Ordinary” so that when we hit the bed at the end of the day, we can smile a bit more with memories of real living and adventure fresh in our minds?
In Jean-Louis Servan Schreiber’s classic “The Art of Time,” he muses that if you want your life to fly by at speed, with vast amounts of time (and of our lives) lost and unremembered, then do the same thing, day in a day out, over and over. Breathnach argues that we can cut into this by rediscovering simple actions and joys and encounters with ourselves and with each other.
What might these things be?
A few years ago the Author Mike Mason wrote a powerful little book entitled “Champagne for the Soul.” In this he writes,
“In my experiment I was committed to uncovering the deep wells of joy in my life. Such wells are not always readily identified. One must search for them as for rare wildlife in a jungle. Unless we define for ourselves the specific, personal ways we experience joy and deliberately make room for these pleasures, happiness will escape us. …to recover joy, it may be necessary to treat her like a casual acquaintance with whom one wishes to become good friends.”
This challenge is taken up in many of the “A Private Affair” cards, but if you don’t yet have the game, consider exploring this question with your love.
What are the specific, personal ways I experience joy?
Were these part of this past week? What things?
Is there a way for me to begin to bring these into my life? Our lives? This coming week?
Apart from our love relationship (but in addition to!), how could my life, and our lives, have WAY more passion, adventure and romantic flare?
Suggest a few very specific things you’d like to do!
When shall we live, if not now? – Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD)
“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.” – John Keats (1795 – 1821)