Friday Favorite: Misunderstanding “I Love You”

Every Friday, I post a past post that was popular. This post was originally posted on November 20, 2011. Enjoy!

There’s a show on MTV that I catch sometimes. It’s called Friendzone. I don’t know why I watch it when it’s on. It’s half an hour of grueling emotional heartbreak and I never follow it all the way through to the conclusion.

The show follows a new couple of people every episode. These people have best friends of the opposite sex and have always felt something more for said best friends. The show is formulaic. It starts with the protagonist asking their best friend/crush to help them get ready for a “blind date.” The best friend/crush helps out. They go to the location of the “blind date” and then the protagonist reveals his or her feelings for the best friend/crush. It’s grueling.

The show bothers me for a couple of reasons. First, out of all of the contestants from this whole genre of MTV dating-type shows, I feel like I can actually identify with these people. These people are my friends, my peers. These are the people I give advice to when they tell me they have feelings for another one of our friends. I know them.

Second, it makes the assumption that we have no control over love. Love, though, is not an adjective. Sometimes, it is a noun, yes. But most of the time, it is a verb. It’s something we do, not something that does us. The hopeless, star-crossed lovers are a fiction. And that’s not upsetting or cynical. It’s just true. Sometimes you like someone more than that person likes you, and that sucks, but there is no reason to believe that because your feelings are so strong, you and that person are supposed to be together.

Third, it presupposes the only way to show love for someone is romantically. There was a 13th-century Persian mystic poet known as Rumi. He was pretty cool. He was doing things that the romantics and the transcendentalists would do almost 600 years later. One of his greatest works, Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi (or The Works of Shams of Tabriz), was written for his friend and master Shams. When you read the poetry contained in the work, you feel Rumi’s love for Shams. The idea that a love for a friend can be spiritual and transcendental, mystical and inexplicable is pretty cool. We don’t have to be having sex with a person or moving toward having sex with a person to be profoundly altered by another human being. I have a couple of close friends who are girls. And we routinely tell each other that we love each other. And it doesn’t mean that we want to sleep with each other. It means that we know each other, support each other, believe in one another.

So after a thirty-minute show on MTV, I am sad. I am sad because these people don’t know that romantic relationships aren’t the end-all be-all of all human relationships and development. It is just one facet of a very complicated awesome web of people.

Have you ever crushed on your best friend?

Friday Favorite: Writing to God

Every Friday, I post a Friday Favorite. These are my most popular past posts. I share them because I like them, you like them, and perhaps you haven’t had the time to read all my past posts. Enjoy and feel free to comment!

I think I started to get semi-serious about writing right around the time that I started to get semi-serious about girls. If you’ve ever gotten semi-serious about girls, you know it’s a complicated matter. It motivates you to do things like dress better, play sports, and pretend that you have to shave. The problem with getting semi-serious about girls, though, is that you very rarely finish anything. You write a little bit, then cry a little bit, write a little bit more, talk to a girl, cry some more, write, sleep, dream about girls, pretend to shave…. and nothing ever gets done. And it’s just a hassle.

I tell you all of this because what I really want to say is that I started to get semi-serious about writing because I wanted people to like me. I thought if I wrote my moody pre-teenage feelings poetically enough on my Xanga people would say “Ooh, he’s moody and poetic” and then they would immediately associate me with other moody and poetic people like Johnny Depp and John Mayer.

Moody and Poetic Teenage Writing

Some moody and poetic teenage writing.

Over the years, writing and I have had a bit of a rocky relationship. He helped me get a girlfriend in high school. And then I didn’t talk to him for a while. But then he selflessly got me into college, and I started hanging out with him again. Then he made me into a hipster, and I couldn’t forgive him for a while. The thing is, though, that I’ve never really been fair to writing. I’ve been using him for ulterior motives even before I knew what that word meant.

One night, when writing and I were on the outs, I went on a run because I was feeling kind of alone, and when you are feeling alone and you and writing are on the outs, there isn’t much else to do but to run. And while I was running, I was kind of talking to God because God is easy to talk to when there aren’t people around and the night is dark and you are in a golf course. While I was running and being with God, I realized that writing should be a little bit like talking to God. When you talk to God, it’s kind of hard to be selfish. Being selfish with God is a bit like meeting the president and asking him why they served cold food at your school that morning. It’s just not something you do. Instead, when you are talking to God, you start to realize all of the things you care about and all the people you care about. That’s a really beautiful thing, and it dawned on me that night while running and talking to God, that writing should be beautiful in that way.

So I’m making a commitment. Writing should be like talking to God.

The title of this site is “Spencer Writes,” but it’s only that because it’s cute and catchy. What I really want it to say is “Spencer Writes About People He Loves” because there really isn’t anything else worth writing about.