Words from a Father

Husband of One, Father of Four

Tag: spark

357. Essay: The Role of Manhood (Initiating and Cultivating the Spark)

The guy is responsible for cultivating the spark. Shy and awkward or not, if the girl is that important to him, he’ll do it. If she’s not, he won’t. This is the bottom line.

Example: How many times have you looked at a married person — that you would call a loser or a dork — and thought, “How in the world did they pull that off? Of all people, how did they get married?” Well, even though they are a dork, they pulled it off by having enough of a spine to get things rolling. The other person was that important to them.

Another example: When a man initiates it’s called romance, but when a woman initiates, what’s the main description we think of? Is it manipulation, pushy, desperate, needy? Whatever it is, it’s certainly not called romance, and we see a clue to the truth of relationships in this perspective. Women don’t want to be the architect, they want to be the one who gets swept away. Conversely, men don’t want to get swept away by a woman; there’s not the same honor in that as there is in pursuing her and winning her heart.

Another: I have yet to hear a love story that ends well when it starts with, “I made sure all our classes were together; I sent him gifts; I asked for his phone number; I guess I finally wore him down enough. Next thing we knew, I asked him to marry me.”

I don’t know of any female who hopes to someday be second place — especially to a man without the guts to set and keep his priorities straight, and to stand against those who would try to get him to bend to their idea of “what he should do,” be it work, hobbies, or what have you. If he’s not strong enough to initiate the relationship, he won’t be strong enough to keep you first through the stresses of life.

Second place in a relationship is lame, daughter. And you don’t want to be on the receiving end of lameness.

332. Essay: Love at First Sight (The Spark)

I don’t think “love at first sight” is a real thing because it beggars the understanding of what love truly is. I certainly understand the appeal of a meant-to-be fated romance, but that has not the depth that twenty or fifty years of loyal marriage contains. First-sighted love is shallow by comparison.

Maybe “spark at first sight” or “connection at first sight” is more accurate. But those phrases won’t catch on because they’re not romantic enough; they’re too factual and miss all the poetry of the feelings of the moment.

But isn’t that the point? Love isn’t a moment. It’s a million moments back to back. Love is the totality of what is looked back on, it’s the reminiscences by those who have always held that one relationship in higher regard than any other, even among myriad opportunities. Love is not fleeting, not temporary, not able to be had with whomever and whenever.

The spark is a welcomed and celebrated first step — an emotional doorway drug — along the path of love, but it is not love itself. The spark is the emotional high. It’s the manic part of the plot, the shallow scenes of the movie that are fun and easy to write but not where the depth of the characters is explored.

We can all recognize the universality of a story that highlights the spark, but we long to connect with the truth revealed in commitment’s depth. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is not a romance, but a tragedy — if for no other reason than that they never progress past manic emotionalism and into something more mature. The spark was all they had, and even that was quickly gone.

But compare that with the excellent prelude of the computer animated film Up. The spark between the couple sets the buoyant tone and we get the sense that great love has flourished between them. Their love has matured through life’s ebb and flow, through achievements and disappointments. The movie’s silent prelude leads us through the spark of their romance, the depth of their love, and the pain of losing the same. It is this arc that moves us emotionally and prepares us to suspend disbelief when, as an older man, the main character launches into his greatest journey, all borne from the depth of his commitment. (And notice from Shakespeare that irrational sacrifice is the outcome of the spark’s immaturity, while in Up we see that love puts correct emphasis on enthralled living.)

The spark certainly has its role. It convinces you to lower your defenses, take a risk, and then take responsibility for a real relationship. It’s an invitation into something greater. The spark is an emotional promise, “There is something greater than what you feel right now, something worth the time, worth your heart.” The spark can’t take responsibility for what comes after and how the relationship unfolds, but it is truthful in its promise to open the doorway to love.

The spark says, “Carpe diem,” this is the only moment that matters, the most important moment of your life. But what comes after convinces you that every moment since has mattered, has made your life what it is. This is much more than the spark could ever have given; this is love.

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