I like country music (don’t judge me, I grew up in Texas!). It’s not exactly highbrow lyrics most of the time, but it is still enjoyable much of the time if you’re willing to practice what the poet Coleridge called “the willing suspension of disbelief”. A song from yesterday’s morning commute struck me– a male singer crooning enthusiastically about the bliss of living in a perfect love. I enjoy letting myself feel the fantasy of such a love– surely just around the corner– as I enjoy romantic comedies, and willingly suspend disbelief to let hope soar for 3 minutes, or for 90 minutes.
But having lived into my 50’s and walked deeply with many individuals and couples for better than 16 years, I remind myself that it is a fantasy to believe that finding perfect love in a human relationship is a real possibility. A client of mine recently came across the phrase “there is no perfect love” in a book he was reading– it hit him like a revelation. He realized that deep down, perhaps never having let the thought become conscious, he had lived his whole life (nearly 50 years) believing that one day he would experience the unfailing love of another person. He found it freeing to face reality, to embrace the “given” of life that such a love is not to be found on planet earth.
Some belief systems embrace this given and promote the idea that therefore the only way to have any kind of ongoing peace and tranquility is to snuff out the desire for a love of this kind. Christianity, suggests that if we find a desire for such a love to be a universal one, perhaps the problem is not the desire, but the failure to recognize and accept the fact that we were made for a world, and a love, far beyond what this one can offer. Which way do you handle your longing for perfect love?