Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Love above feelings

Posted on December 16, 2007 by jimparedes

Sunday, December 16, 2007

To a lot of people, talk of love, friendship, marriage and all the different types of relationships can evoke a gamut of feelings. Somehow, those topics can bring us straight into the heart of the world of emotions, the realm of existence which pretty much makes us feel if we are happy or not. Can you imagine living life without your emotions to guide you?

A few nights ago, I was talking with some female friends I had just met at a dinner for a visiting classmate. These were women in their 50s and over our meal and coffee, we talked about a whole range of topics, from common friends and religion to travel and food, etc. When we got around to talking about relationships, one of the women in the group talked about her experience of getting married at 18 and separating from her husband 14 years later. She said that the essential reason why she separated, aside from her husband’s philandering ways, was because she felt imprisoned in a relationship that was not working and could not work out.

She added that there was a part of her that wanted to grow and discover herself outside the confines of the conservative, traditional and confining role her young husband had demanded of her.

While she was telling her story, I thought of friends who had separated, and I remembered the one thing that I thought was common in all of their cases. When a man decides to leave, it does not necessarily mean that it’s a permanent arrangement. Often, men return or attempt a comeback. But when a woman decides to separate, it is usually with finality.

That’s another one of those “women are from Venus, men are from Mars” things that are useful to know.

After her separation, this woman met a much older man who has been her life partner for some 20 years now. When I asked her what it was like to start over, she said that while it was initially intense, it was no longer as “hot” as when she was 18. She said that the highs and lows were more manageable and a bit more subdued.

I figure it must be due to the fact that there are less hormones to contend with at the age of 31 than at 18.

The whole spin about love relationships, as promoted by advertisers, media, and the world in general, is almost always about hormone-driven love where people are swept off their feet by uncontrollable emotions. The idea of a force that is so overpowering it can take over one’s life is actually a very attractive one. And it’s not only because all these oceanic feelings of love feel so good; it also makes us feel so alive with every tingle felt in every cell of our bodies.

I think another reason that love is attractive is because on a certain level, it frees us from being responsible. We surrender to what feels good. We can’t help it. And what feels good can often also feel right, at least while you are into it.

One piece of advice I gave my daughter years ago is, in matters of love, never trust promises uttered at the beach or some other beautiful tropical setting, or for that matter, any romantic place. All the romance induced by such settings can be deceptive. When things turn out badly later on, alas, we discover that we were merely blinded by the strong emotions that ruled us. And we usually blame the other person, the ambience, the heat of the moment, the full moon, etc. before we admit full responsibility for our impetuous decisions.

Many people never outgrow the idea that love has to always feel good for it to be real. They are caught up in the whole “mystery” of it, how among all the people in the world, fate has assured that they meet and take over their destiny. I have met many people who always need to be in love and I dare say that those who profess that they cannot live without romantic involvement often do not have big hearts or a mature capacity to love. Often, they are just addicted to the romance.

And while the mystery may be irresistible, the mastery of it is much more important. Living in this world for a few decades has taught me that it works the other way around: that the way love feels so good can be all the more intense because it is real. And it helps to know this because for love to be real, it must sometimes be experienced, or tested independently of feelings. Older couples may not be all over each other physically but they are there for each other in many other aspects. This is an arrangement they have established through the years that has made them stick together.

I know it is hard for young people to imagine love without the “feel-good” aspects of it. The woman mentioned above told me that she was secure and comfortable in being with this man whom she knows loves her, although he does not express it physically as often as he used to.

I play a mental game every now and then when Lydia and I are going through our rough moments. Sometimes at the height of an argument, I step back and ask myself to state mentally if I truly love her, in spite of what seems to be a challenging lack of good feelings at the moment. I notice that to truthfully answer the question, one needs to have a sense of self and an equanimity that is less transient than the ebb and flow of feelings.

One of my favorite Jesuit authors, Anthony De Mello, writes that when we say “I am depressed,” this is not quite true, because you are not your feelings. Feelings come and go and identifying oneself with something fleeting is not only inaccurate but creates confusion over the depression. Another guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, explained it further when he said, “When sadness comes, just sit by the side and look at it and say, ‘I am the watcher, I am not sadness,’ and see the difference. Immediately you have cut the very root of sadness. It is no more nourished. It will die of starvation. We feed these emotions by being identified with them.”

It helps to look at feelings the same way we look at, say, the weather. Try to imagine saying, “There is a feeling of depression I am feeling right now” in place of “I am depressed.” Doesn’t that feel better? Doing this makes the depression a “third person” (he, she, it) experience instead of a “first person” (I) one. You can step out of yourself and become more objective and therefore make your life more manageable.

When we gain a certain amount of mastery over our feelings, we can be more sure of our life decisions. Love is more solid if it is a commitment made over and above good feelings alone. And for that matter, if one has to make a decision to separate, it can hopefully be more amicable and mutually beneficial.

Let’s stop blaming the weather or our moods when things don’t turn out as we want them to. We can summon new realities by deciding to. As Anthony Robbins put it, “More than anything else, I believe it’s our decisions, not the conditions of our lives, that determine our destiny.”

17 to “Love above feelings”

  1. celine says:

    A great read! reminds me somewhat of our debate back in college about love and happiness, if they are feelings or decisions. =) What’s your take on that one?

  2. jimparedes says:

    It may start as a feeling, or even a bilogical impulse such as attraction or lust. But to last, it will have to be a decision eventually, although the presence of good feelings certainly helps.

  3. Leah says:

    This entry made me really think hard about my perception of love. Its very though provoking. I’ve always been a romantic – I dream of the old days and somehow I am missing that right now. Its good to read a perspective like yours.

  4. Mabel says:

    Nice one! Will remember this one when i start to feel that sadness again.

  5. Bass Poet says:

    What a great blog entry as always, Sir Jim! I remember Eric Fromm with his book, the Revolution of Hope in which he wrote, “To love is to be open both to the positive and the negative.”

    I believe love as to be in the truest form and being must be experienced in real life with the euphoria of happiness to the extremities of sadness and depression. True love does not immediately disappear in the moments of arguments and tensions…the true feelings of love will always come back…Simply by making the choice that Love is action, decision of faith, hope and unconditional giving and loving.

    I hope I am making sense, Sir Jim. Forgive me if I am expressing eccentric ideas in your blog entry. I just can’t help it. I love the freedom your ideas stirs my passions and emotions.

    Hanggang sa muli, Sir Jim!

  6. Carina says:

    Talking of depression, alam mo ba that I felt a “feeling of depression” for about a week when I learned that you have migrated to Australia? I learned about this just recently when I was watching the Ms Earth Pageant, and you were introduced as Mr Jim Paredes from Australia. (!?!)

    I got affected for some reason. I searched the web right away; I had to be convinced of your reasons for leaving our country. I bookmarked your blogs, believe me. I read and read entries from 2006 onwards to better understand. Now I feel better.

    Your entries about the family, especially the apo, touch me the most. Say what, I am 49 and about to be a lola myself. I grew up with your music, at kasabay nyong namulat sa aktibismo nuong dekada 80.

    The blog entry above, I like very much. Thank you, Jim Paredes.

  7. jimparedes says:

    leah–Enjoy being a romantic. Nothing wrong with it although at a certain point, ou must be able to see the love without the rose-tinted glasses.

    thanks mabel.

    bass poet–the eccentric very often are those who understand the world so it;s OK to be eccentric in my book.

    carina–this is not a permanent arrangement. Regardless of what you’ve heard, I will be back. In fact, I’m here more times than I am in Sydney

  8. Goldimyrr says:

    Hello Mr Jim!

    I’m just glad to have chanced upon your blog! It’s definitely a great read! Thank you for these inspiring thoughts and for the wonderful music you so willingly share to us.

    As I was reading through I was reminded of the notion of a love free of affectations where even less the romance, less the beautiful setting, true love will endure. And yes, such love is possible I agree, for that same love was shown to us by God and to it we are also called: to live the reality of the present, to strive for wisdom and pray for strength in battling the harmful and deceiving passions that are natural to our being so that we may walk where the light is and rejoice in the truth of our lives, no matter how difficult or strange or situations may be.

    Thank you for the outside encouragement of a little love.

    God be with you always”,

  9. dee says:

    Hi po,

    very well written. Spoken like a man who’ve been there, done that, and had been made wise by experience. Thank you for reminding me that “love doesn’t have to always feel good for it to be real”.

    The feel good feeling is an addiction most of us wouldn’t want to be part from, thinking that devoid of the giddy emotions nothing would be left.

    My first time here… will be coming back for more. 🙂

    Thanks po ulit,


  10. jeanette says:

    MERRY CHRISTMAS and a very PROSPEROUS 2008 to you !!!

  11. charm says:

    hi sir jim,

    i agree with you on this one. love is a initially a feeling, but to really make it work for you in your relationship, it becomes your decision – to be the best person you can possibly be for your partner, in spite of all the bad stuff that comes along with any relationship. your piece really struck a chord in me. your articles are a true inspiration, not to mention your music too, which i love! merry christmas!


  12. Anne says:

    Sir Jim,

    I know this may sound really weird but my bf and I badly need advice from a wise man, even just a brief one. We’ve been together for a year and the arguments are nonstop. It may be as frequent as every day but the “fury” always lasts for just one or a few more hours and we make up right away. We love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together but the arguments just won’t stop and at the height of passion, we just HURT one another.

    Is this still normal? We want to carry on but it’s becoming scarier and scarier by the day. Do we need to break up while there is still love, before everything turns sour and into anger?

    I know it’s strange that I have to ask you but your words of wisdom are just too powerful to not follow. Thank you very much.

  13. katie says:

    I wanted to read the article but it does not show on the website, just the comments… why po kaya Mr. Jim? I been coming back kasi baka po error lang ng site. thanks.

  14. jimparedes says:

    Try refreshing it reloading the page. If you still can’t see it, go to http://apojim.multiply.com.

  15. jimparedes says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for the little notes and reactions.

    Anne–Am sorry I can’t advice you either way. But here are a few things to think about. Are you fighting because of real issues or is it a clash of personalities? Are you fighting over things that upon reflection, expose an immaturity with you both? Are yoiu getting ‘better’ aqqt resolving issues? All relatrionships involve a negotiation of sorts. Is the physical attraction the ONLY thing that is keeping you together?

    It’s good to know and have an honest look at what you two are to each other.

    As I said, I can’t make a decision for you. It’s something you have to figure out yourselves. Good luck. I hope this helps.

  16. Jim, I have read and re-read this post you made and have deliberated on it from a deeply personal space and can agree with what you say. I feel the words of the song appropriate to add at this point; that I can look at life from both sides now. A very insightful post. Thanks for your questions and the way you encourage us all to think, laugh and live a little more.

  17. Mark says:

    I enjoy reading this post,
    Thanks for the chance to get this!
    Keep on posting master jim, and APO really rocks!

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