Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where Romance Meets Reality

Romance. Reality. They are two seemingly separate worlds, posing as the north and south poles of life, but every so often they meet like an ocean lapping the land, like the split second between dreaming and waking. Maybe romance and reality are not such a paradox, maybe our eyes are crossed. Maybe we need both. Both to dream and to simply live. Even so, romance reminds us that there is more to this life than what we've lived, compelling us to turn the page. Romance sees promising beauty in the grit of reality. Romance takes the cadence of the mundane and composes a song. They are not so far apart. Reality is brimming with romance if you look close enough and long enough. It is most unfortunate that a realist is labeled a pessimist and a romantic is labeled an idealist, and the two don't get along very well. I need a steady diet of both. I want to be someone who doesn't live in denial of reality, but someone who is realistic enough to admit that there is a mystery below the surface of everything, a cavern deep enough and dark enough for romance to thrive. Experience is not always the best benchmark of what is really possible.

Question: Is God a realist or an idealist? An idealist sees the world as it could be or should be instead of simply accepting the way things are. In that regard, I would have to say that God is more of an idealist. He sees everything as it really is and yet he doesn't allow reality to lower his expectations. God thinks in terms of the impossible and the miraculous. It's interesting that God knows the future and yet in His communication with humans He still speaks in terms of what could be or should be, even though He knows what absolutely will be. If that's not idealism then I don't know what is. And if God is more of an idealist then He is closer to being a sanguine romantic rather than a dour realist.

God still surprises me. You wouldn't expect to find erotic literature within the pages of a Holy Bible. And yet there it is-- the Song of Solomon, holy pillowtalk. It's hard to believe that our God is the same God who invented kissing and sex and breasts and then published a book about it without blushing. It's impossible to read that book and conclude that God is against romance, in fact He seems to take it rather seriously. But of course, romance is much more than all of those things. When we think of romance we may even think of candlelight dinners and sparkling wine and delicate music and poetry and dancing. And yet romance is more than the sum of its parts. For me, it is even more than being with a girl. Romance is an invisible sun that kisses the heart. Be that as it may, some have given up on romance altogether while others are drunk on it. Excessive extremes are seldom ever healthy, even though people often gravitate to one or the other. Secular culture has exagerated romance to the point of eclipsing reality, so in turn the church has responded by writing off romance and relegating it to the scripts of Hollywood. But why should Hollywood have custody of such a divine treasure? Hasn't God come to "make all things new?" Could even romance be redeemed by Jesus? I hope so, because although my faith in romance often wanes, I must admit that romance revives my spirit, quickening my senses so that reality seems more real. Not that feelings are always an accurate compass, but feelings certainly accompany a soft heart. To divorce ourselves from feeling deeply is to stop being human. When all colors fade, romance restores my fascination with the universe. Without romance, the moon is just the moon, but when I look with romantic eyes then that silver ornament becomes a captivating work of art, worthy of poetic appraisal. You see, romance is not at odds with reality, romance savors every bit of reality, while appreciating its higher meaning and raving about the Artist.

Anyway, I don't mind being called a romantic, but I don't think that I'm a hopeless romantic. Afterall, romantics seem to be the last people on earth still clinging to hope against all odds:)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Arranged Dating

Truth be told, I wrote most of this about 3 weeks ago but hesitated to post it. Mostly because I was becoming increasingly concerned that this blog could be mistaken for some sort of personal ad or cry for help, which couldn't be farther from what I set out to do. I wondered if it was an omen when I noticed that even an online dating company had left a comment under one of my posts. Oh well. . . .

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Sometimes the idea of an arranged marriage is very appealing. Like in the good ol' Bible days. Back when people married less for love, and more for socioeconomic advantage or for diplomatic reasons. Couples would be betrothed to each other at a young age, via their parents, and then groomed for their predestined wedding day. What a relief that would be to have those hair-pulling decisions completely out of your hands. Who to marry? When to marry? There is a part of me that likes control and there's a part of me that loathes it. To be completely in control of your life means that you are the only one to blame if things don't turn out well. In the land of liberty, sometimes freedom of choice feels like a curse to the picky and the fickle among us. To be perfectly honest, I am terrified of marrying the wrong person. Or being the wrong person for her. But more than that, as much as I pray about it, I'm wary of missing the right person. Yet in a way, all of this is not just up to me, because ultimately there will be a girl involved who has to make a lifelong decision as well. And then you have friends and family and even random strangers who are glad to offer their omniscient opinions on the matter. Still, an arranged marriage sounds inviting. Someone might say that God is arranging my marriage and I would wholeheartedly agree. And yet it's not quite the same, because alas, I still have a big decision to make.

It's interesting that psychologists have found that the more choices we are presented with, the more unhappy we are. The reason being that when we choose something, we worry that we didn't make the right decision, which causes stress. So the more choices we have then the more opportunity we have for mistakes and regret. So, we are actually more happy if we have less choices. Hence, the appeal of arranged marriage. However, the irony is that we love our freedom of choice, and we love to keep our options open. Hence, the aversion to arranged marriage.

The funny thing about my trepidation is that I'm not even dating someone right now. It's a classic case of putting the proverbial cart before the horse, and in this case, my horse is actually a winged unicorn that was last spotted flying over Nevada. Nevertheless, I've always felt that it's not right to date unless you're considering marriage. Hmm, maybe the answer is arranged dating. Maybe, arranged dating is the only hope for our gridlocked generation to jumpstart our love lives. All of the matchmakers out there are now pumping their fists and chanting "Amen!" But wait a minute, in order for it to be true arranged dating, then you'd need a fair and balanced liaison (and I'm not talking about a Fox-news reporter), someone who is a trustworthy friend to both parties involved. Otherwise, they'd have a one-sided agenda. Or you could have two liaisons working together, one representing the girl and one representing the guy. That would be closer to how an arranged marriage functions. In the case of an arranged marriage you have two sets of parents involved, which provides a system of checks and balances and equal representation. So. . .how much do you trust your friends? How well do your friends know you? Enough to let them decide who your next boyfriend or girlfriend will be?