Do we have a choice in who we love?
On the choice of enduring love and our choices being a reflection of hope.
I have said this before, there is a strange irony that no one in my family reads this. I was thinking about this this morning, and am thinking maybe they should. I don’t really know. There is something nice about the idea that no one close to me knows what is going on in these letters, but also something sad.
Last week, I told you that I am scaling back on Substack. And this is true. After taking the poll, it seemed like people wanted personal essays. I cannot for the life of me believe that people actually want to read personal essays above interviews with people I admire. I find this really interesting because, at the heart of it, it feels like impostor syndrome. Or that I have nothing to say, so why would people want to read it just because I like to write it? Who knows? But alas, the new plan from now on is to do one personal essay, every other week, and interviews every other week. I really really appreciate all of your feedback on how I should move forward. Also, I wanted to note that so many people gave some form of this advice:
Rest. Pay attention to what you are paying attention to, keeping faith, and acceptance.
In my former life, I believe the messages and advice that people would have offered would have been different. This is speculative but anytime before 2020 people would have given me the advice to just push through. To keep going no matter what the signs are, no matter how hard the work. At that time I was listening to a lot of podcasts with Angela Duckworth. Her ideas on Grit and the power of perseverance were undoubtedly reflective of the times that we were living in, and the value systems we were subconsciously abiding by.
“...there are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time―longer than most people imagine....you've got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people....Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you're willing to stay loyal to it...it's doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.”
― Angela Duckworth, Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success
Let’s linger on the last line, “not just falling in love―staying in love,” for a moment. I originally intended to write this essay on how hard it is to endure staying in love. That it was not effortless magic, chemically blindsiding us through attraction. It was, and is a choice. I don’t know if we really have a choice of who we fall in love with. Perhaps on some level with practice, we might, but on the whole, raise your hand if you think you have a choice.
The story that explains my falling in love with Josh is a complex one. The role of choice is a fabrication that I wanted to believe in but actually is muddy behind the facade of how our minds might actually work. How I understand my “fall for him” in this moment is an equation that I think will change over and over in our lives. At this moment it is this: He is kind. He is smart in the ways that I find interesting. He is functional (or I thought, like he participates in society at large). I don’t think that it is a coincidence that he looks like every other long-term partner I have had. I also recently have been thinking about how his last name is German. I always had a feeling I would fall in love with a German.
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