On loving in postmodern life… seriously…

Valentine’s Day. History. Memories. Trauma. Drama. Resignation. Beauty. I re-connected with a friend from my early twenties this week, and talk about stories! He moved me with personal and familial chapters of love, loss, anger, acceptance, succor and, yes, mystery.

I’ve been reflecting since on who we are and how we love, today, in the 21st Century. What have we learned, especially those of us who were post-WWII babies? “Boomer” annoys me, by the way, like some tired spiritual terms I hear that make my teeth itch. But whatever we call my generation, one life goal of mine since my early teens has been to understand us.

I mentioned my “boomer” issue to Kevin and he offered an inspiration: the magical generation. I keep thinking about that. It certainly fits the way I shot out of the cannon of my middle-class Southern upbringing into life like it’s never been done this way before. It fits the way I’ve parented and loved so far, too:  all vision and possibility, authenticity and passion, high highs and low lows. Nothing “ordinary.”

My friend’s sharing and mine with him have me pondering the relationship between love and longterm commitment, between readiness and identity, and our actual experiences over the long haul as we and the world around us morph and change. I’m reflecting on the truth that, for me and many of my magical generation fellows, our intensely personal choices have shaped our lives and those of our children in ways that will unfold for generations. That’s big stuff to carry around, but fascinating in an evolutionary context.

Did we invent authenticity in loving, and intimacy that should last forever? Evidently these big ideas rolled in like slow-growing waves from a far coast as some of us were being born. As the Sixties gave way to the Seventies, psychedelic new atmospheric conditions settled in that still affect the emotional weather of our lives four, five, six decades later.

Now, with survival-based, institutional paradigms continuing to fizzle or erupting in flames, I believe our ways of being in relationship are evolving anew, from scratch, necessarily. We’re in R & D, exploration-and-growth mode, experiencing and managing emotional, ethical, and logistical conundrums that, if they don’t destroy us or others, make us all increasingly strong and conscious.

Maybe loving is more courageous than ever in the face of evolutionary arcs that take eons, with spectacular odds for failure in the meantime. Though a bit of good news is that the moorings we lost were mainly masculine. Maybe feminine values, wisdom, energy, and empowerment are finally settling in, not to replace the masculine but to dance with it in new ways, toward fresh language, images, models, and archetypes within which we can enjoy one another ever more deliciously! (And no, I don’t think that’s magical thinking!)

But how does any of this aid us in the trenches, now, with our complex commitments and histories? Well, for me, an evolutionary context ennobles us, and helps us surrender to empathy and tenderness no matter what, to consciousness that’s big enough to hold contradictions and complications that often feel like just too much. And reflecting on and taking responsibility for our choices are gifts that keep giving, helping us learn, integrate our learning, make sense of our lives, and make peace with everything and ourselves.

So here’s to the nobility of loving on this evolutionary frontier, including heartbreaking seasons, turning points with lifelong ramifications, and family lore more poignant than any Oscar-worthy screenplay. Loving is who we are, always, still, in ways that ring true today. Perhaps no longer magical, but beautiful. Seriously.