I keep asking myself if writing love songs isn't just a little, well, prissy, in a time of so much volatile change? Shouldn't I be lighting hot, holy fires for justice? Shouldn't I be educating, and preaching, proclaiming anthems that pound as fervently as an enraged heart? What are love songs in the face of so much ugliness? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. I like to believe that society also subscribes to the old alchemical adage "As Above, so Below", that large changes are built on the seemingly miniscule individual shifts.
An example: I was texting my Mom about chores ( I love that I can text my Mom now. It's like always having the phone a friend option for life...but I digress) Not only is my mother someone who has been married over 30 years, but she was certified to offer pre-marital counseling as a minister, I figured if anyone knew how to address the unequal division of house hold labor it would be her.
"I was never really good at that" was her response "but it's very common"
"I guess most of us were raised with some sense of feminist ideals, but not a lot of us saw it modeled in the home"
When we haven't seen it in action both men and women fall back into the patterns they are comfortable with, not out of any malicious intent but out of habit. Those habits, however ripple out into the rest of our lives. An un-share portion of chores can relate to how much time and energy women have to develop our careers, how we feel about our worth, even decisions about whether to take a promotion or not.
When we don't have stories, songs and cultural containers that hold the ideas of genuine and radical equality in love, then it is harder to embody.
Another example: I was hanging out at my friend Jen's amazing plant store Powder Haus in Ballard, and I was talking to a Chef who regularly teaches classes there about my idea to write "real" love songs inspired by interviews.
" I don't know" he responds, giving me a subtle side eye. "I just think that when everything is going right it's kind of boring."
When all you see in the media are "perfect couples" that still echo Leave it to Beaver, or "dysfunctional" reality TV style relationships then yes, a healthy mutually supportive love seems boring.
In the real world, however, love isn't about "everything going right". If you have (at least) two very different people creating a life together in totally perfect harmony all the time, someone is lying. Love is, instead, a continuing quest of evolution and revolution. It is a process of pushing boundaries, sometimes to let them dissolve and sometimes to strengthen them. It is the continued unveiling of layer upon layer of constantly changing vulnerability.
If we get past the highly polished and impossible standards we see the kaleidoscope of what love really is: in the words of my father "it's the impulse to have someone know you as well as you could possibly know yourself, and to know them just as well." It's the way Jeff finishes off the goofy songs I start about our pets. It's this couple getting up and dancing to the theme song of their favorite show. It's being able to just be your un-edited self around someone else. My friend's Amy and Isaiah just got married last summer, now there is "no embarrassment" in their house. How liberating is that? It's knowing that your introverted partner will need to decompress after a trip, and figuring out how to give that to them, is what my friend Heather does every time her partner Grant comes back from a tour.
Love is not some static state that you fall into or out of: it's risky and terrifying and liberating and joyful just like the best adventures always are. Why write love songs? Because if we think the most basic atom of compassion is boring, how will we ever muster the inspiration to face the big stuff?
The first song for my slow release EP Adventures After Ever After comes out February 1st. Tune in for Muse Ridden Monday for the first listen.