Saturday, April 17, 2010

Oatmeal and one root

In Jonathan Zap's articulate oracle "No Tristans Allowed Beyond This Point - Debunking and Transforming the Western Myth of Romantic Love", he works from this quote from We by Robert Johnson:

“Romantic love is the single greatest energy system in the Western Psyche. In our culture it has supplanted religion as the arena in which men and women seek meaning, transcendence, wholeness, and ecstasy.”

... and explores all of the ways in which the myth has gone oh-so-awry. Yet it's been so wrong for so long that it lingers inexhaustibly as it exhausts us on our (endless?) search for that feeling of transcendant wholeness in another.

(What to do!?)

Zap refers to the "Western Myth of Romantic Love" as "WMRL." And these are my favorite parts of his missive that involve images of 'oatmeal' and 'one root.'

"For now, if you are WRMLholic, admit it and aim at living your life in a way that allows authentic love to supersede romantic love.

"Robert Johnson says essentially that we should replace the contrived, histrionic dramas of WMRL with “stirring the oatmeal” - a humble acceptance and appreciation of “…ordinary human life, with its obligations, its ties, its commitments, its duties, its limitations…” (p. 139) Johnson describes grounded, authentic love with an oatmeal metaphor:

"Many years ago a wise friend gave me a name for human love. She called it ‘stirring-the-oatmeal” love… Stirring oatmeal is a humble act---not exciting or thrilling. But it symbolizes a relatedness that brings love down to earth. It represents a willingness to share ordinary human life, to find meaning in the simple, unromantic tasks: earning a living, living within a budget, putting out the garbage, feeding the baby in the middle of the night. To ‘stir the oatmeal’ means to find the relatedness, the value, even the beauty, in simple and ordinary things, not to eternally demand a cosmic drama, an entertainment, or an extraordinary intensity in everything.” (p. 195)

"Johnson points out that for many of us this: “…focus on ordinary human beings, is too earthbound, too dull and sordid for our romantic prejudices.” In other words after eight hundred years of hitting the crack pipe of WMRL the transition to oatmeal is a bit difficult."

Another luscious note Zap mentions is from Captain Corelli's Mandolin, in which Louis de Bernières describes the evolution from infatuation to authentic love with what he calls poetic eloquence involving the image of two trees becoming one-in-root:

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two."

1 comment:

Lisa S said...

I very much like the "stirring the oatmeal" analogy.