Isn’t that just a continuous argument? And it seems as though everyone falls on one side or another. As in, no middle ground appears.
Which makes sense, really. When you ask the question in that manner, you kinda have to answer one way or another. Sorta like the old, “How many times did you beat your wife?” So when someone asks, is true love a myth, what do you answer?
If you’re on the therapist, self-help, 12-Step side of the issue, the answer is it’s an illusion. “Love” exists to create pair-bonds and have/raise children.
Because if you didn’t fall madly for the person at some point, you’d never put up with him or her for the 18+ years it takes to raise a child to adulthood (and then some!). I mean, his snoring becomes annoying soon enough anyway, and that’s the easiest of his foibles! If you weren’t at some point head over heels, you might leave him before the kids came in the first place.
Romantic love can sure be like that!
Pair-bonding. That’s the whole ticket. Anything else regarding “love” is a myth.
Of course, in days of yore this whole sentiment was taken out of the process, all marriages arranged (and in many cultures today, still are) in order to prosper the families and propagate the species. Even though we look on that now with horror, if you had decent parents who loved and had your best interests at heart, this actually worked pretty well.
You can grow to love your mate—if that’s important to you.
Then as the Renaissance era dawned, enter Tristan and Isolde. One of my favorite myths! And all the modern take-offs on them are luscious as well. I may be one of the only people on the planet who loved the universally panned Legends of the Fall, but ah! I still love that movie 🙂
Of course, make a modern rendition of an ancient myth on any theme and I’m pretty much enthralled by everything about it.
But anyhow, you know the story. Isolde was betrothed and about to meet her mate when her nurse (this varies from telling to telling, but let’s just keep it simple) made up a potion so she’d fall in love with the next man she saw. Now, that sounds to me like a mighty caring nurse. She wanted Isolde to be happy and marry the man who swept her off her feet. Gotta hand it to the old bat!
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon your point of view—don’t you just love the twists in myths and stories!), the more, ahhm, peasant Tristan was sent to the castle on some errand or another, and Isolde gazed upon him right after taking said potion.
Viola! True love blossomed!
And all hell broke loose. Which is of course the intent of any good myth 🙂 Gotta have conflict to grow and change things—the deeper the troubles, the bigger the transformation.
Then of course lots of stuff happened and the point for us here is that this was heralded as the initiation of “romantic love” into human culture.
In other words, that box of Pandora’s just got ripped smooth open. Ah! The implications! The story could go this way or that or . . . Wait. That’s me tweaking about stories J
Which of course, real life is about. Myths are the metaphorical mirrors of our hearts; what we felt in waking life distilled down to its essence. Myths comprise the very meaning of our lives.
So when you ask me the question, I unequivocally answer: Both. Of course true love is a myth! The very heart and soul of us. Which is also the most beautiful work of art . . .
I think that pretty much all women (because they talk to me about this all the time), no matter how jaded, no matter how long married (happily or not), no matter their station or age or anything, and although they live their lives in the “reality” where they have come to find peace, pretty much all women still get a heart flutter when their Mr. Darcy appears from the mist.
Didn’t that just catch you then?
And it doesn’t matter if your Mr. Darcy is male or female (or these days, transgender), the metaphorical image is the essence of true love.
Which is what a myth is entirely.
When the late great Joseph Campbell was asked about the truth of myths, he replied,
“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth–penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.” –The Power of Myth
I do believe I’m truly in love with that man!
Where do you find true love?