A Love Supreme

by aaron on July 19, 2011

In light of requests from Jordan and Rebecca’s glorious wedding, I am reposting this reflection from their engagement announcement last year.


“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” –-St. Augustine

This month my parents celebrated their 37th year together… my twin brother and his girlfriend their 7th.  To commemorate the moment, my brother also proposed to Rebecca.  She of course said yes.

After all the happy exchanges, the congratulations and blown kisses, people eventually turn to me and the question inevitably arises… how do I feel about the engagement?  It’s a trigger question, often tinged with a subtle note of concern.  Those who know us best, know the intricate kinship we twins share.  Our whole lives have been one of synchronicity: we read the same books, played with the same friends, competed in the same sports, excelled in the same subjects, went to the same schools, were interested in the same girls.  The first time we’d ever been apart for more than 3 weeks didn’t happen until 21.  Until the age of 8, we even slept in the same bed, head-to-toe.

Beyond brothers, we are also travel companions, writing partners, joint shareholders of our co-created business.  Our twin joke has always been: “who needs a soulmate when you were born with one?”  So you see, it is only fair to ask the question, and to ask it with leveled concern, how do I feel about the engagement?

To which I respond — HAPPY.  Unconditionally so.

You see, my brothers and I were raised as hope-full romantics.  I say this because I’ve never understood the term ‘hopeless romantic’.  To me, romance is all about the fulfillment of fantasy, the uncovering of hidden desires, unspoken needs… and that startling pleasure of straw spun into golden reality.  The very definition of romance is hope kindled, set ablaze.

To be a romantic then is to be full of hope.  To walk a high wire over an abyss of rejection and potential shame, without any safety net below.  It’s to relinquish any fear of failure… for dreams of flying.  It’s a vulnerable, terrifying way to be.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In matters of Love, people finds themselves caught up, swirled in eddies and whirlpools, carried downstream over rocks and fallen trees toward the infinite promise of an expansive ocean of devotion.  Often we are subject to the tide, to the sudden torrential flashfloods of affection, or the long draughts of loneliness.  We can no more control the fluid nature of sexual chemistry as we can the depth or direction of how love flows.

So when it roars down the mountain and sweeps you up in its rapids, you can either choose to fight the current, to swim upstream or cling to shore.  Or you can let it carry you.  Learn to float.  And place your trust that in spite of the many waterfalls and ripples, the other person won’t let you drown.

Watching Jordan and Rebecca over the last seven years is to witness a mighty river hit the sea and fan out toward the horizon.  Theirs is a love both playful and effortless – with a graceful art to their affection; the ability to maintain unbridled passion over the dilution of time.

Love is a happy accident that requires constant attention.  I look at my parents and see the roots of two trees so intricately entwined that they are no longer two, but rather one sheltering canopy.  And perhaps I am guilty of watching too many Cameron Crowe movies during the sensitive developmental years of my adolescence.  Or anchoring my early definitions of love in the nostalgic interplay of Kevin and Winnie in the Wonder Years.  Nor does it help that I spent four years of college writing and reading the poetry of Pablo Neruda and E.E. Cummings.  Or that I picked up my first instrument out of a driving desire to play John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”.  The fact remains that when it comes to love, I am hopelessly hopeful.

And since my brother has found it, I am hopelessly happy.

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