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zandd.com: With summer drawing to a close and autumn being ushered in with the coloring of the leaves, it seems that one topic dwells on the minds of nearly every one in my immediate circle, and that topic is love. Whether it is a summer love, a lost love, or a love never-to-be-found, it is the topic of choice. The irony is that given its status as the most universal concept amongst congniscent beings, its mechanics and parameters remain as abstract and undefined as the mathematical dilemma of any quantity divided by zero. For this reason amongst countless others, I have pled the Fifth in regards to matters of the heart. That is until now.

What little I know about love can be surmised in these few thoughts. Love is universal, yet its meaning is strictly subjective to the wants and needs of the individual. It is sought by each and every one of us; an unquenchable thirst that burns so deep within that in times of severe isolation and despair, we readily accept cheap imitations and carelessly substitute for it. No matter the situation, love is not an easy thing, going far beyond the parameters of always having a date on Saturday night, and its base linguistic properties of a monosyllabic four letter word, a word whose meaning society has compromised. To put it simply, many of us (myself very much included) just don't get it.

It is my belief that there comes a moment, a defining moment, in each of our lives, one instant that stands out against every other. In that moment, the seed of love lies in wait and it is our action that dictates whether that seed will flourish or perish. As cosmic as this may sound, I believe this to be true. For in this day and age where the world seems to be in a rush to fall in love with the first pretty face or sympathetic voice to cross its path, I like to believe that I am not alone in my credo that a person can love just one person wholeheartedly for the duration of their lifetime and be all the better for it. The irony of the matter is that this love cannot be sought or avoided, for although it is the arrogance of the mind to assume that we choose love, it is my belief that love chooses us. Over the course of a lifetime, no matter how impatient one might grow in waiting or become reluctant to its calling, love proves to be a truly impartial force giving little consequence to its judgment other than chance.

Despite all the confusion in regards to relationships and love, I have always held to one manner of thinking, albeit an irresponsible one. That eventually drove me to be sitting alone in remote corners of cafes, sipping from six dollar cups of cappuccino, and scribbling little notes in a small leather bound book. I am seemingly oblivious to the activity surrounding me, always looking to far away places, holding everything and everyone at an arm's distance away with constant rationalizing and suppression of thought and emotion; few words and fewer action. A way of making a statement about independence and individuality could have been a fair assessment, but in this case, nothing could have been further from the truth.

In his work, Ellison wrote extensively about masks; not unlike a Batman mask an excited twelve-year old dons before a night of trick-or-treating to conceal his identity, but different in that it is an abstract mask for the purpose of concealing emotion and thought. These masks are used by individuals to assimilate to various situations, to protect personal investment and as an aid in fitting the expectations of those around us. In my silence and indifference, I was adhering to Ellison's school of thought. For you see, as I sat there in the cafe, I was aware of the people around me listening to their words. Try as I might to seem indifferent and unaffected by it all, inside I was living the biggest hypocrisy of all. Each night I spent countless hours at my desk working towards goals that lay in a bottomless pit, trying to prove things that everyone else already knows. What started out as a passion grew into an obsession, becoming more of a crutch or an excuse to hide behind in defiance of life and love. I became absurd in my desire to be King of my world, in limiting variables, withdrawing from personal contact and adhering to routine without deviation; to control that which is in uncontrollable. It was a path I traversed alone. This in itself was a contradiction, a betrayal to my inner self as I yearned for companionship, compassion, but most of all, sharing. For you see, try as I might to convince myself that I am different, a tortured soul meant to walk the dark side (typically overly dramatic as pseudo creative writers are accused of being), the truth is that no matter how disillusioned I'd become by the disappointment of life, my heart still believed in the foolish idealism that for each of us there could be only one.

Too often in life, it seems as though lessons are learned when it is far too late for anything to be done about them, following along those lines of "You don't know what you got, until it's gone." Such was almost the case for me, as I experienced a near drowning incident over the summer. It took me to almost expire to come to the realization that the beauty of life and love is the risk, the challenge, the emotional highs and lows that inevitably come. That although society secretly admires those who deviate from the general crowd, find strength in their individuality and create a niche of their own, it in fact takes more courage and strength to be honest to yourself and another in opening yourself up; to love another and accept reciprocation. Even as I read my own words over, I realize more that love is abstract, subjective, confusing, and conflicting. It truly is wonderful and I would not want it any other way. And for those of you who seek love, toil about love, or are in love, I leave you with wise words once passed on to me by a close friend that pretty much sums things up: "True romance fairy tales don't have an ending, they go on forever..."

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