The question I ask myself these days is actually the reverse of Hartley Coleridge’s poem thus entitled. I wonder: “Is a fancy a form of love or just a passing feeling?”
Art has always revolved around love in one way or another. The three major themes of all human creation have been Love, Life and Death. We know all about the quest for our “one and only”. We’ve watched countless movies about love in all its shapes and forms. We’ve all read novels and poems about the pain and longing you feel when you’re not with the one you love. We’ve seen paintings and sculptures inspired by their creators’ wives or mistresses.
But what of the people we fancy over the years? What about those individuals whose paths cross ours to bring excitement, rejuvenation, butterflies into our lives for a moment? Not the ones we marry, but the ones we dreamed about for brief periods of time. Do they not matter as well?
Right now, what I am missing is not the big L.O.V.E. Though I do believe that romantic love should be experienced by all human beings at least one over the course of their lives, what I could use right about now is just a fancy. An infatuation, a platonic love, someone to think about with a smile and a giggle. Someone to exchange messages with, without the complications of everyday life and practicality. An ideal disembodied sort of love. Thyra Samter Winslow described platonic love as “Love from the neck up”. And that is just what I wish for these days.
On the one hand, there is true love. Love is all-consuming. It is intense. It is beautiful and it is ugly. It is everything. On the other hand, there is the feeling of fancying someone. The crushes we have from childhood on. As far as I can tell, they, too, remain with us forever, so why are they not worthy of epic poems? Why are they not central to human creation? Are they not instrumental in reminding us that we are alive and always young at heart?
Oh, how I would like to have a sweet someone to exchange thoughts and feelings with now. Someone to get to know in a parallel reality, to think about when I need to, to dream about when I want to, to be exhilarated by on a tedious day.
I believe we all had crushes way before we encountered true love. And now I find I miss that feeling of an innocent, immaculate love-like relationship.
But there is also a third category. Next to love and a fancy, there is another source of inspiration. Namely the attraction we can feel towards any particular person, whether it is paired with sexual attraction or not. This feeling of being drawn to a person often proved to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship or work relationship for me. More than love itself, it is this sort of attraction, crush, infatuation, that has led to most of my creations. The stories and scripts I wrote, the plays and shows I created often stemmed from an encounter with someone who stood out from the crowd. A person who shone a particular light. Whether it was a man or a woman, a being I found physically attractive or not, this feeling of two souls meeting for a purpose is a precious feeling I have had numerous times over the years. The ignition of that particular flame, the spark, can be compared to that moment when Maria and Tony first meet in the film based on Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”. All of a sudden, everything around them is blurry, dark and silent and all they see is each other. Like two souls recognising each other from a previous life and being reunited.
That has been the source of all my inspiration. More than Love with a capital L. And it is the spark I am waiting for now. That familiar, innocent feeling that brings all those lost butterflies back. And the beauty of it is, that it never has to become anything more than what it is. Just a fancy. Just the promise of a story that will never be. Just the initial pages of a story I am yet to write. A muse and a dream.
And so I am going to bed singing Louis Armstrong’s “Give me a kiss to build a dream on” while thinking: “Give me a face to build a dream on”. Because sometimes the promise of something is so much lovelier than its realisation.
Good night, my next muse, wherever you may be.
(Title: Poem by Hartley Coleridge)