Falling in love is a powerful force. That moment when we see ourselves reflected in the eyes of another, when we are seen, fully seen… it can be a transcendent experience. Heart to heart, mind to mind, spirit to spirit, we lift each other up in a frenzy, a whirlwind. See me, see me, and we are seen.
Or are we? What we see reflected in their eyes is not always the entirety of our truth. It is a truth better and more refined, more stylized than who we are. And why is that? It is because they see the projection we internally long to put out to the world. That us that we want to be.
They reflect back in with their eyes the person we long to be, and we tumble head over heels. This is not a bad thing. Far from it. Seeing ourselves idealized can help us rise up and become that person, feel what it is like to be that person because there it is. There it is in their eyes. We see our potential and are invigorated.
The same is true in reverse. Looking upon our beloved, we see their potential. We see them for who they seem to be, who they might be, who they have the potential of being. They look into our eyes and see the reflection of these things, and love erupts.
We fall in love with ourselves. Ourselves personified in the eyes of another, combined with the individual we see before us. We fall in love, and this is beautiful.
From this place we rise into love. We build cathedrals from the ground on up. The arches twine up into the air, buttresses holding up stained glass and dreams yet to be shared. This new relationship becomes an architectural wonder between the individuals involved.
One day we look, and we fall in love with the relationship itself. We marvel at the cathedral that has been built by the two amazing personified individuals, and see manifest the greatness of who we indeed are. Here stands proof that we are the beings we saw in each other, for only these beings can possibly have the capability to build such a wonder.
These are wonders. We fall in love, we rise into love, we construct in love. And we slowly unravel the layers of each other beneath the mirrors of our lives. Or, in some cases, quickly we find that every mirror has a backing on it and something rests behind that mirror. In some cases, what we find matches who and what we have behind our own mirror. In others, there may be struggles and grief. We sorrow at the loss of the perfect person we thought we knew… but more than that we struggle with and mourn the loss of the perfect person we saw in their eyes.
The earthquake hits the cathedral, and we realize that though we built up, and up, and up… we never dug down.
We never laid the groundwork for this artifice of wonder. This cathedral of grand dreams. We did not dig down into the dirt and muck and grime to lay the foundation for our wonders.
It may take years for the cathedral to crumble, or a cataclysm can shake it to the earth. At this moment, when the cathedral falls, a transformation takes place. The architects of this wonder can walk away. In doing so they can mourn who they thought they knew, and try to rebuild themselves back into the mirror others can see as perfect. They can walk away and be a shattered mirror, fearful to let anyone see them lest they see only the ruin of monuments past, cutting themselves off from the world. Or they can dig down into love.
Whatever route is taken, a transformation has taken place. An alchemical process begins. The shape of what is to come is no longer the shape of what was.
If the route to dig down into love is taken, there may yet be mourning first. The nostalgia stands there and we cling to it. We try to rebuild on the dirt, we try to build back up what was, or we dream of it. But when we hold onto the nostalgia of our past, we can not embrace the possibilities of our future. Both our hands are full of the rubble and pieces of the puzzle. We can not reach over and grab shovels with our love and begin to dig in. If my eyes are fixated on the rubble, I can not look my love in the eyes and begin to dream our next creation.
This can be especially hard if only half of the structure has fallen. If we believe we can rebuild with no foundation below us, for we can not see the folly of our ways. In this place we can still dig down. Basements can be excavated and foundations can be poured, even if we are still living in the building of our dreams. It is possible, but it is hard work. Hard, dirty, sweaty work. Work of the souls, and sometimes as we continue to live in our grand work, we might resent the rubble and construction. And yet, to stop the building from collapsing all the way, we need to dig into love.
How deep we dig, the foundations we lay down, the steel we girder our relationship with, will determine how high we can go. If we plan to raise up a new cathedral of passion, we must dig deep.
And yet, do we need to build high? We can build wine cellars and subbasements, winding twists and turns of this thing called us, and never build above the ground beyond a floor or two. From the outside we may seem like simple ranch houses, or sprawling geodesic dome compounds. We do not have to build cathedrals atop our strong foundations.
Culture tells us that cathedrals, skyscrapers, and towering temples hold great value, and so we fall in love, rise in love, let love carry us higher and higher. The air gets thin. We become light-headed and truly high in this place.
But we have choices of the shape our love will take.
We have choices.
We can build the Taj Mahal or a cottage in the woods. We can build the pyramids of Giza or a row house in the city. We have choices… and no choice is better than another. It is a matter not of what culture says is the best shape of relationship, but of what structure will serve those who are in love.
We can fall in love. We can rise in love. We can dig into love.
We can lift each other up from the holes we fall into. We can ground ourselves to be safe as we rise up. We can come equipped to dig.
And when we see ourselves in their eyes, warts and all, we can still learn to love what we see in their eyes.
It is never too late to dig a foundation, and never too late to transform into the structure of our dreams. We may need to deconstruct a bit to get there. There may be dust on the ground and it may feel like we are crumbling with the rubble of construction around us. But if we work together, we can build our dreams.
By looking forward, and working, together.