Thank you, Robyn Peterman. Your latest Sea Shenanigans novel, Misty’s Mayhem, made me laugh out loud, while thinking hard about truth in fantasy. In this installment, Misty the Mermaid and Cupid the (demi) god of love, have been boinking for decades – casually of course. No deep feelings here. Cupid has become jaded; he doesn’t believe in love anymore. And, Misty is determined to avoid the slings and arrows of the Archer’s bow.
Denial – it isn’t just for humans. And neither is love.
Sure, the plot is a bit complicated involving demons, Olympian gods and pirates in puffy shirts, but in the final analysis, it’s all about love. And, in a play on words that truly warms my heart and tickles my toes, the entire story is laced with references to love song lyrics. I’m pretty sure Robyn Peterman and I would be BFFs if we got to know each other. Playing with lyrics and song titles is one of my favorite pastimes as those of you who read my blog carefully may know.
So, what does Ms. Peterman say about love? A lot. And a lot of it is completely contradictory, which also makes me smile, being a study in contradictions myself. As a small sampling of the wide variety of messages in Misty’s Mayhem, I offer the following, paraphrased: Love is hard freaking work; Sometimes, the decision isn’t yours to make...sometimes love simply happens; The god of love is one of the strongest warriors in existence; Love is a weakness; Love is either the most important truth or a temporary mirage. Love is pain. Love is a battlefield. Love is happiness. Love is nonsensical, yet it has the power to resolve all contradictions. Love makes the world go around. These characters are all over the fucking place! Just like love.
Yeah, love is hard freaking work. I didn’t know what that meant for a long time, but then I figured out that the work of love involves being brutally honest. To expose ourselves to another to be judged, assessed, accepted or rejected. It’s a huge risk to put ourselves out there and open our kimonos to say, “Here I am. Please love me. Me, as I am.” Overcoming our natural instinct to hide any perceived flaws or foibles, shortcomings, defects, or scariest of all, the strength of our feelings, is hard work. Resisting the urge to please at the expense of our own needs, is even harder. All of this is work from where I’m sitting.
And what about love as a weakness? Absolutely. When we feel like we can’t live without someone else, that is a raw vulnerability. What if they leave us? What if they die? What if... we can drive ourselves crazy with such thoughts. Not that I would know anything about that, of course. But I’ve read about it. For a friend.
What about when the decision is taken out of our hands and love just happens? It was that way for me; I wasn’t really looking or open to a new relationship when love found me. I resisted at first, but then I reconsidered. What if (two words I should probably have excised from my vocabulary) when I was ready for love, love wasn’t ready for me? Love don’t let me go! What if I stopped quoting song lyrics? Sometimes, we just have to leap and hope the net will appear. It’s worked for me... so far at least.
The trouble with love is, love makes no sense at all, but you can’t refuse the call. Which is why I’m inherently suspicious of matchmaking algorithms. What works on paper doesn’t always work IRL because love is more about alchemy than science. I used to think it was all about chemistry, and there is certainly an element of that. But when love strikes, it’s more than just a synthesized reaction. There’s always a little magic involved. Sometimes, the magic is overwhelming.
Finally, there is love’s longevity. Misty wonders if love will last? Can she avoid losing that loving feeling? Will the honeymoon dead end into banality that stretches endlessly into the future? I know too many couples like that. I don’t want any part of that. And the truth is, over the course of any long-term relationship, that loving feeling comes and goes. But I agree with Misty that, “for the ones who get it right, love continues grow into something words can’t explain.” Granted, not all of us get it right. But for those of us who do, love is a many splendored thing.
Does love make the world go around? It can. Because love is like oxygen. And we all need to breathe.