About five years ago, before I began blogging at all, I ran across a quote on some social media site I no longer frequent, and while I normally am extra sharp with words and attribution, I think the energy this particular quote created inside me jarred the way my brain normally works and I only absorbed the gist, not the specificity. And then, of course, I desired the specificity when I started blogging, so I went to look up the quote, but I couldn’t find it. SUPER frustrating. (If any of you wonderful blog readers out there recognize this quote from the gist of it that I’m about to share and rant over, please send it to me, because missing the specifics still bothers me. I know. But I am who I am.)
ANYWAY, the gist of this quote (which I can’t remember the source) went like this:
An ordinary man can no more aspire to a grand love affair or a grand love than he can aspire to grand riches or grand fame. They are just as unlikely and rare.
Boy that quote really pissed me off. On so many levels. Like…this is the visceral reaction I had to that quote:
And I rarely have such a pronounced negative response to something that isn’t intentionally hurtful. But wow.
I think the cynicism in the quote is a major part of what bothers me…the declaring that love is unlikely and rare and that ‘ordinary’ people can’t hope to ever have it as a part of their lives. Like…a grand love story is out of reach for most people, which I feel is wholly untrue in itself. There are grand love stories everywhere. We just have to allow people to be open and free and feel safe about finding love and expressing love and sharing their love stories. If we watch and listen, grand love stories are unfolding before us every day. I know I’m a Pollyanna, but I truly believe that. And I almost titled this post (and hell, a few years ago, I almost titled my first BLOG ITSELF…I *wanted* to call my first blog this) “<Whoever Said This Ridiculous Quote> Is Full of Shit.”
The ONLY thing stopping me from doing that was the lack of specificity and proper attribution. I definitely believe he was/is full of shit. That quote is full of shit.
But I think I kind of get why the quote author said it. It’s because we have these skewed societal ideals and set of expectations for what a grand love is.
We think ‘grand love’ is full of all this drama and spectacle and overt display of our passion through performance and material things.
There is probably truth to the notion that we all aren’t going to leave someone at the altar, or save someone from a burning building, or walk 500 miles uphill through snow to deliver the 30 karat diamond ring to the love of our life that we met in kindergarten, but were tragically separated from by war or something and then found again in middle age, only to find out <gasp!> that they are dying, so we are going to just get married to seal ourselves together for the 87 minutes they have left to live…
We don’t all get a life filled with manufactured theatrics. We aren’t all being delivered 3 dozen roses daily for 50 years or having the lights of the Empire State Building lit up in the shape of our initials or our favorite pet or whatever. That’s true. But manufactured theatrics are not what really makes grand love. At least not in my opinion. I’ve written about this before. And I write stories about ‘everyday’ love. But just because the events and people I write stories about are ‘everyday,’ and lacking in manufactured theatrics, doesn’t mean they aren’t grand or extraordinary or meaningful or exciting.
I think they ARE.
I think there are countless grand love stories being lived by the ‘ordinary’ people we know. Happy couples? They are living a grand love. Maybe they were introduced by mutual friends…they met in high school or at work…they met on a dating website…those are all ‘ordinary’ ways to meet. Maybe they aren’t a jet-setting millionaire and a starlet or a marine biologist and the inventor of the nuclear submarine…maybe they have ‘ordinary’ jobs and maybe they’re doing ok financially, but they don’t have their own helicopter…or maybe they’re even just scraping by. That doesn’t mean they can’t be enmeshed in a grand love affair; that they aren’t living a love story worth telling.
I feel like there is magic in everyday life and ordinary people. I think that’s where the grandness and magic lies, actually. I think we all overlook the magic and grandness right in front of us and in the lives we’re already leading and the people we already know because we’re looking for some Hollywood trope instead of what’s real. But there’s magic in what’s real. I think so anyway.
So here’s a quote I like in all its specificity and I know who said it. It’s one of my favorite quotes of all time, coined by a great writer, and it inspires the way I write and the way I try to live…with gratitude for the possibility of grand love in EVERY life, no matter how ordinary, and for everyday magic. In his work, The Minpins, Roald Dahl said–
“And above all watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places…”