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The Art Gallery of Love


Sometimes my inspiration to write comes in the strangest forms. Tonight, it was a random song that popped into my head. It’s an older one that I haven’t heard in probably several years and, though I knew the chorus, I’d never actually read the lyrics and didn’t know what the message of the song really was. Evidently, I’ve been getting only about half the words right for years (the ones that weren’t just quietly mumbled until the chorus came back around). Funny thing is that while reading the actual lyrics it turns out it could have been the theme song for my general thoughts thus far tonight.

The song in question is 38 Special – Hold on Loosely. I won’t post the complete lyrics here, you can look that up on your own if you feel so inclined, but there’s certainly some good advice in there. Now, just for a little background information, I don’t do the whole “like” thing so well. I’m more of a “don’t really give a shit” or “full on love” sort. Not much in the way of a middle ground where I’m concerned. Another fault of mine is a tendency to get attached quickly when I feel that love within me and I can be more than a little intense.

Not in the crazy stalker sort of way, nothing like that, but more the showering with affection, compliments, and attention sort. Fortunately, I’m not blind to whether this is being well received or not, but I do tend to dive head first straight into the deep end rather than wading in slowly so to speak. I’d be lying if I said this had never gotten me into a shitty situation before but hey, live and learn right?

When you feel that intense sort of love swelling inside it’s exciting and it feels great! It’s almost too easy to let yourself just get swept along with it and not even realize it. We all know someone who’s been or experienced a ‘stage five clinger’, someone who has just totally lost sight of how they were acting and how it was making the other person feel. They can have the best of intentions, but they are just smothering, downright annoying, or straight up creepy.

It can be a tough balancing act this trying to show someone how you really feel without coming on too strong. You want them to be happy and you want to be happy yourself but being around them makes you happy, so you want to be around them all the time. Not many people I know can actually handle having someone else around all the time though without it making them feel caged, pressured, and just a bit crazy.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “If you love someone, let them go. If they come back, they’re yours. If they don’t, they never were.” I tried to look it up to see who said it, but I got so many different variations and just as many different people credited with saying it that I gave up and just wrote what I remembered. I think it’s a quote that has its merits, but I also disagree with it in some respects.

I don’t particularly like the part where it says, “they’re yours”, like they’re a possession and are yours for all time. I also don’t really like the implication that setting them free is a one-time thing that seems more like a test of loyalty than an act of love. I think of it more like an ongoing continuous sort of thing in which you want to set them free every day, empowering them to be whomever they want to be. You’re there to love and support them in whatever ways they need and want, but are never restrictive in your love.

I think that’s why the lyrics to 38 Special’s song seem more in line with how I feel about it. The key really is to ‘hold on loosely but don’t let go’. I think of it like holding the soil in which a delicate flower is growing. If you don’t keep your fingers together the soil will just fall through and the plant won’t have anything to grow in. Conversely, if you clench your fingers into a tight fist, you’ll crush the roots and prevent them from being able to spread out and form the support the plant will need to hold the flower up. Like the second half of the chorus says, “Your baby needs someone to believe in, and a whole lotta space to breathe in”. I can’t really say it better than that but I’m quite fond of the plant metaphor and I think it paints a better mental image.

This may seem to be one of those things that’s a lot easier said than done and to a degree I suppose it is. In my opinion the key isn’t in how you feel about the other person so much as it is in how you feel about yourself. It’s that needy sense of dependency on the other for your own happiness that gets people in trouble. If you really love yourself unconditionally and are confident in the knowledge of who you are and what you have to offer, it’s not that difficult. It certainly may take some conscious thought on your part, it does on mine at least.

It’s not necessarily a behavior that comes naturally but one that can certainly be learned so long as those other key prerequisites are met. I think that more often than not, we get into a relationship because we see something in the other person that fulfills a need within ourselves. This is a pretty natural behavior and I’m sure Darwin had an extensive list of reasons to support why we do this. It can be hard to not look for a relationship when you’re used to having someone or feel lonely but learning how to really love yourself is a wonderful thing.

It’s super empowering to find all those things that you normally would feel like you need someone else to satisfy and learn how to satisfy them yourself. And yes, I know there is at least one thing that just isn’t quite the same when done as a solo experience, but I think that’s half the problem too. Get into a relationship because that’s what you are looking for and if you haven’t addressed all the other stuff, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

The scene where Tom Cruise utters his famous “You complete me” is cute and a cinematically touching moment but come on folks… it’s the movies, not reality. You don’t want someone to complete you. You want someone that reminds you that you’re already whole. If you feel like you have missing pieces, work on that first before you worry about someone else’s pieces or parts.

Think of it like a puzzle. You don’t want a big pile of puzzle pieces or a half-completed picture to be what you base your decision of who you’re going to be with on. You want to see the whole picture, all put together and complete. The same goes for you, don’t go into a relationship as a half finished human, get all your shit together and have something amazing to offer. It will feel much better, I promise.

That’s not to say that I necessarily have all my pieces in place, but if you haven’t made the connection with the “single dad” tag on the website, I’m not exactly lookin’ for anyone just yet. In fact, I don’t know that I ever really will be LOOKING for anyone ever again. I want to finish putting myself together and see the whole amazing image laid out in front of me. I want to walk through the art gallery of other finished paintings and admire them for the unique pieces they are.

I don’t want to be looking for any one of them in particular, I’m not shopping, just enjoying the experience. Maybe I’ll find that one piece that just catches my attention and I can’t help but find a comfortable place to sit and spend the rest of my days enjoying its beauty, maybe not. Who knows? I do know that if I find that one spectacular piece, I’m not going to snatch it off the wall and hang it in my private study so that only I can appreciate the beauty it has to offer the world. I won’t stand in the way of others that want to admire its beauty either. But if the artist walks up and sits down next to me and we get to chatting, I’m not opposed to being there with her hand in hand and letting anyone that comes through see the beauty of both of our finished images side by side.

Hmm... Did I take that metaphor too far to the point of obscurity? Maybe I lost you somewhere between the puzzle pieces and the art gallery. Well, as the puzzle piece tattoos I have scattered all over my body would say if you were to put them together (Now I’m talking literally… As in I literally have a dozen puzzle pieces tattooed on various parts of my body) “I’m Under No Obligation To Make Sense To You”. If what I’m trying to say is making absolutely no sense to you then perhaps this particular wing of the art gallery (I’m speaking metaphorically again for those who are having a hard time keeping track) isn’t for you. Not everyone likes the abstract and would rather have a more classical piece to ponder.

That’s the beautiful thing about the world today, so many options! But anyway, back to my original train of thought. If you’ve found that one special someone in your life that makes you feel that amazing intense love I urge you to give them space to grow and, “hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” Thanks for reading!

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