Friday, July 15, 2011

The Ecstasy of the Moth

In love, is intensity or permanence more important?  This is a question from Dr. Gregory Stock’s Book of Questions and my friends and I tried discussing this once during a girls’ night in (GNI).  I thought about this question again as I panted on the treadmill (which you all know about now after last Tuesday's post).  Intensity or endurance?...keep running fast or keep walking for a longer period of time?  During the GNI, almost unanimously, the preference was for ‘permanence’.  Almost.  My gut answer was intensity.  I am a Scorpio after all!  However, after some thought, debate and rationalization, I conceded and accepted permanence as more important.  After all, the question refers to importance and not which one will bring you the utmost satisfaction, doesn't it?    

http://flic.kr/p/5Zri7E
I suppose the reason a debate ensued was because the terms intensity and permanence could be construed in a number of ways.  I took the question to mean that intensity meant depth and excitement, whereas permanence was just a diplomatic and rationalized way of saying boring and shallow.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like getting bored with people, especially in love.  I like being intrigued.  I enjoy having puzzles to solve (to a certain extent, of course).  I think a certain degree of mystification helps sustain me because then it gives me a perpetual quest to demystify.  But then again, can I really live like that forever?  Do I really want a life like that, a life with someone I feel is way above me, or someone I can never figure out?  Though I know that which fascinates me sustains my passion, I also know that this kind burns out way too easily. Do sustainability and predictability then get the upper hand?


http://flic.kr/p/7AX9Rm
The interesting thing is, in both scenarios, there is death.  Whether I choose someone who completely ignites my passion to the point of burning me out, or choose someone who is more predictable, sustainable, but will cause me to flatline, I see some form of death unto the self.  It then just becomes a question of how you want to die, doesn’t it?....die through a violent explosion and consummation, or a slow  and quiet death.

As with everything in this life, balance is necessary. I know this is a a cop out but hear me out for now. Though it may be true that nothing can be intense one hundred percent of the time, it is not necessarily fair to assume that 'permanence' does not include bouts of passion and depth.  Just as with any exercise routine to be fully effective, you have to alternate between the intense and the slow / manageable.  You can't just walk the whole time.  You have to vary your speed and incline and keep on challenging your self.  Relationships aren't that much different really. You need both passion as well as sustainability.  You have to try to preserve some mystery without exhausting your partner to the limit.  And most important of all, at least for me, there has to be depth, in feelings, thoughts, connections. These, to me, translate to real intimacy.

Ideals and cop out answers aside, let me now assume that the terms intensity and permanence are used here as mutually exclusive.  Will you choose a relationship that is intense but will not last long, OR, something that will last forever sans intensity or passion?  I would still choose as a true Scorpio.  I want to drown in the depths of passion, bleed with yearnings and be consumed to ashes.  What good would 'forever' be to me if it will only imprison me in a life of hunger?  Some would say that this is not a very practical choice but is love really meant to be practical?  I want to feel desire and be desired, get lost in his eyes, rendered powerless by his words, his voice.  I want to be intoxicated with his taste and scent, feel soulfully entwined and be flung into a world tainted with Shakespeare and Beethoven.  I want it all.   For me, true love is meant to be tasted this way...even for just a brief moment.






























23 comments:

  1. Intresting question. First, let me say that at 45 I do not see permenance in the same way that you do, and I too am a Scorpio!! Lol! But, if I was to choose in the narrow parameter that you say, intensity or boredom, I would choose intensity. Always great to visit you!!! Have a great weekend!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Joy, good title for the article. For years I chose intensity because it just felt so good! Then somewhere along the way I found myself in the middle of a psychology thesis on this very subject. And here’s basically what I learned. Intensity is addictive. Women (married or not) are drawn toward certain men because they are attracted to that force of passion that is lacking in their lives. So it’s mainly the addictive personality types that are addicted to intensity. And, as it turns out, the men they are addicted to are sex addicts. So there you go. I’ll take permanence over passion for this reason, especially since learning that intensity is so ephemeral. Consuming passion is great while it lasts, but the thing is, it only lasts so long: ( Balance, as you say, is key.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "You can't just walk the whole time. You have to vary your speed and incline and keep on challenging your self. Relationships aren't that much different really. You need both passion as well as sustainability. You have to try to preserve some mystery without exhausting your partner to the limit."

    Exactly. I've been with my husband for 14 years. Passion wanes and peaks - and that's all good. It keeps things fresh and interesting. :D

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like how you compared relationships to running/exercising. I sure hope that intensity and permanence are not mutually exclusive! --Christine @ Why We Love Green, visiting form VB

    ReplyDelete
  5. Joy, I dont like to think of these qualities of a relationship as mutually exclusive. For me, being such a romantic, I want the whole kit and kaboodle and at this stage of my life (mid 50s) I feel so very blessed that I have found someone who provides both. Whilst the lustful meanderings of early love wont last forever, it cant - there are stil qualities in relationships that are intense in different ways, igniting passion, deep love, fun and joy. I think its all in the intrepretation of what the words mean. To me permanence does not mean boredom, it means commitment, bonding, exploration and journeying together.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You need both! Intensity and permanence -I have always had high expectations! I used to have lots of theories about all the necessary ingredients. Then, 15 years ago, I met my husband. And I decided to live and not think too much. I never looked back!

    ReplyDelete
  7. MuMuGB is right, you need both! As you question maybe it is wrong to equate permanence with boredom? Surely both is available. I like Maureen's definition of permanence: commitment, bonding, exploration and journeying. . yep, that's what I'm going to look for.
    Josie x

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Joy,

    I think those two qualities are just two of the requirements of many others elements that make up a relationship. Though it changes over individuals over what they would find more essential as the core requirement but yes, permanence is something everyone would hope for ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes I agree Maureen (with your definitions). It 's just that the way the question was phrased (meant to be an ice breaker) seemed as if they were meant to be mutually exclusive, which is how I dealt with it...ergo, equating 'permanence' with 'non-intensity / absence of intensity'.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks so much for that Debra! It's interesting that you say that about the addictive personality. Just recently I've decided to borrow one of my friend's labels to label myself, 'intensity junkie'. Go figure! LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's REALLY hard work, isn't it, Sam? *understatement ba?* Hahahahah!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's good to have balance, as I've said. Tough to achieve though and find that right formula. Good for you, Muriel!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, permanence doesn't necessarily mean 'boring', but I had to look at it that way if I were to look at the two terms as mutually exclusive (I think that was the purpose of the book / the question...meant to break the ice and put people on the spot). Both are available (I'd like to think that too, yes)....but it's hard to find the balance...I think.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I also agree with Muriel... ideally you get both. But if I really have to chose, I'm going with intensity. Having stability is wonderful but if you're stable and bored out of your mind what good is it? And having said that, I've been with the same man for almost 24 years (married for 17 of them). And all I'm going to say is, I'm not bored =)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Intensity rocks, doesn't it, Lalia?....if we HAD TO choose :-)) Fortunately not all of us have to as you get both! Way to go!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Joy -

    I'm still trying to get a date so either one to choose at this time is futile. I suppose if I had to make a choice I would take the intensity first, and work on the stability while intensely kissing her passionately. Again, anyone have any cute single sisters,,,neighbors,,,co-workers? :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I would hope that the two are not mutually exclusive and over a period of years (30) with the same man as others have said the intensity waxes and wanes. Does permanence mean boredom? It depends on whether you work at it. Yes, in a long term relationship there is a certain amount of the humdrum, everyday routine. But it doesn't exclude intensity. I'm Cancerian, so I'm the homemaker etc. but if these two were to be mutually exclusive, I would choose intensity. Nothing in this life is permanent. Our worlds can change overnight. I would rather feel something intensely than choose boredom if this is to be the definition. Am I an addictive personality? I don't think so. I'm definitely an emotional one.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I don't think a long relationship has to be boring or not intense, and what good is intensity if it doesn't last? Love is love, and the expectation that is has to be constantly dramatic is what keeps people from truly experiencing it. IMHO, lol! Interesting post!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Interesting discussion and one that I've thought a lot about over the past 6 months or so. I think as we age we do one of 2 things 1) go seek something much more exciting than what we have 2) create a new definition of love, excitment (permanence). I watch as some of my friends seek excitment and most of the time it's not pretty. Working hard to make the most out of the choices I've made, now there is the intensity I need to focus on. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Excellent points you made TV! I particularly loved your very last point! Thanks so much for that!

    ReplyDelete
  21. ...work on stability while passionately kissing...that's sounds like an excellent plan Brian!

    ReplyDelete
  22. My first reaction was Permanence. Then, as I read on, why not both? A balance. Definitely more desirable, if not always attainable. I think, whatever they tell you, there is a moment when a decision is made or the intensity wears out but enough remains for permanence. So I went with Intensity, but the kind you describe at the end of the post. That Intensity that took me through the years and made me feel fulfilled even when the object of this intensity was not there, and in the end, it simmered into a lifelong taper of light, always burning, sometimes rekindling for a few short hours, never lost even after death. So in the end, Intensity turned into Permanence though not the usual kind.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I LOVE your comment Penelope..."it simmered into a lifelong taper of light, always burning, sometimes rekindling for a few short hours, never lost even after death. "  To have that kind of love......amazing!  Anyway, as expected, everyone wants both....BUT...if you were to choose only ONE, I guess it's safe to assume you're choosing intensity too?  ;-)))  

    ReplyDelete

Let me know your thoughts!