I find it very interesting–and existential–to ponder about dried flowers (mostly roses) in most households I visited. Women keep them until they wilt and dry. What was once a blooming, fragrant bouquet now literally turns to dust after several months. But they are still well-kept, often in a long, ribboned box. They seem to appear like precious relics of the past. All the sentiments and memories of perhaps the first date or a most unforgettable romantic event are well-preserved in those dried petals and leaves.
On one hand, this cultural practice seems to be very absurd. Why keep something that has turned itself into a trash? Or why pick up something that might end up ugly and useless? On the other, there is meaning in those flowers that has stayed for long. Their natural impermanence preserves the power of Love.
Romance is often a physical act, a lingering thought, a sweet ritual. Every romantic smile, touch, hug or kiss allows Love to become more physical and intimate. The rituals of giving gifts, flowers, and cards are romantic ways that connect a person with the lover or the beloved. These things about romance have only one quality: they don’t last. There is nothing eternal about them. They subject to change that often we resist. Most of us hate change because we cannot adjust our attitudes to it. When romance stops, it triggers emotional pains, which makes the whole idea of romance repulsive for many who once had painful memories.
The energy of Love that cultivates eternal qualities of oneness, harmony, peace and joy is celebrated through the fleeting symbols of romance.
The materials charged with romance may be wasted, but the energy they carried remains. This is again an irony, the impermanent carries the permanent. It is when a romantic object or ritual merges with intention of Love that the equation completes: Romantic Love. The energy of Love that cultivates eternal qualities of oneness, harmony, peace and joy is celebrated through the fleeting symbols of romance. The lifetime vows and promises of many romantic couples are declarations of this union. “And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.” (Mark 10:8 NIV) romance and Love are two realities that have come together in the consciousness of lovers, and thus become one reality. This is fulfilled not through external agreements, but through inner wisdom.
So the danger seems so apparent here. The insight of Romantic Love has been abused since the rule of our modern and postmodern worldviews. Our depiction of Romantic Love in media has been fixed into a sought-after commodity, an idealized concept that only by finding a perfect partner and relationship can we be saved from the disgrace of loneliness. To succeed, we have used and abused Romantic Love, in conscious, well-meaning, and often neglectful ways as an efficient tool to crave for Love. We have utilized all the rituals and artifacts of romance and created an illusive dimension that only romance is the only way to Love.
Romance is always material and physical. Love is always immaterial and nonphysical. The marriage of these two experiences occurs not by seeking any materiality or subtlety but allowing the ambiguity of the identities of the two to take place. The material is only empowered by the immaterial; without it, material is meaningless. The nonphysical remains unnoticed and unrecognized, unless the physical gives it all the forms. This is Romantic Love in action. Romance and Love, therefore, have attained a sacred union as they show fully in conscious relationships. A new equation is born, and these two human experiences are not anymore muddled up like in our banal myths.
To sustain a relationship, any romantic ritual is not enough. Relationships are nurtured by Loving through listening, understanding, allowing, and letting go. These are far more romantic than our clichéd definitions of romance. True relationship is always possible if one must build a deeper attention to the essence of Love and use it to empower the expressions of the ways of romance.