Love by Jim
Love or worldly success
- If you could choose just one, which would it be? Would you rather
live on a tropical island with your beloved partner, or be a respected
practitioner in your chosen field of endeavor?
When I was twenty, I would have chosen love, no contest, game
over. As I often do when I'm not sure how to feel or behave in
a certain situation, I looked to my friends in the animal kingdom
for guidance. I saw happy penguin couples building nests of pebbles.
That looked good to me, a simple existence in the safe, loving
company of my mate.
Now quite a bit older,
and I realize that there are a few factors that I did not take
into consideration; 1) Penguins only live 15 years. 2)They don't
have many career options. Another factor I could not have foreseen
is the dizzying increase in the pace and complexity of human life.
Everyone works outside the home now, and there are more specialized
niches to be filled than ever before. There is no doubt that a
successful career is a source of self-worth and well-being that
rivals love as a basic human need. It does, however, put added
stress on personal relationships. One need only watch a few "Oprah"
shows to see what a high-maintenance corporation modern marriage
It seems that everyone
today has their own master plan or vision of success. In my opinion,
anyone who joins the chorus line dreams of being the star, and
dreams can be demanding taskmasters. There's not a lot of time
for a busy professional to work "Doctor Love's 27 Steps to
I know of many couples who have busy careers and are also very
much in love, but it's not the kind of love that I dreamt about
30 years ago. Back then, John Lennon told a generation, "All
You Need is Love". Of course, he had already accumulated
several tons of fame and fortune. Perhaps it was just a case of
the grass always being greener. That leads me to wonder if the
two prizes at either end of the rainbow can only be had in inversely
proportional amounts. Perhaps the drive to possess one is fueled
by an underabundance of the other.
After all, aren't most overachievers solitary souls, incapable
of close personal relationships (Van Gogh, Howard Hughes), while
the great lovers are usually effete aristocrats with no unique
creative abilities (Romeo, Edward VIII)? Methinks I may be descending
into cynicism and sarcasm here. Not what I intended to do, but
the depth of my quandary vexes me. When Mr. Lennon made his aforementioned
pronouncement to the world, it was a time of universal hostility
and dissension. In such a time, love was the best protest, and
I truly believed that it was indeed the answer. I feel that to
give up that ideal now would be to abandon the very thing my generation
My encyclopedia says that humans live for 75 years. A person can
learn and a lot and create an impressive body of work in that
time. There comes a point, however, when it's time to rest on
that massive pile of pebbles, and when I do, I want my loved ones
to be there.