Midnight Question

Every once in a while, I get to be sad. Sometimes for no reason at all, or maybe for a thousand different reasons. Sometimes I get my heart broken. It happens. And when that happens, I usually read this:

“Love at first sight is not complicated. In our dreams we build a woman, we give her life from our own life, and then we have to wait. Through trial and error we try to find that nameless ghost that’s haunting our most lonely of nights. And I felt as if I had found what I was looking for. Finally, my ghost had a name and a face.”

It’s from my first novel, Jazz. And I remind myself that I wrote it believing that love is mostly an illusion. Like a painter doing a portrait. We take something that’s there, real flesh, and we alter it. We make it resemble our idea of love. I’m not sure that’s something everyone does, I’m not even sure it’s as harmful as it sounds, but the matter of fact is that this world and everything it in, the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, will never be as wonderful as we can imagine it.

I’ve fallen in and out of love countless times. That’s one of my favorite things to do. In a way, me falling in love has become a reflex. That’s what makes me believe that we all need to fall in love. With the wrong people, with the right people, with those who are never going to love us back.

Getting your heart broken makes you appreciate real love when you find it. The first time we taste the bitter disillusion of not being loved back is one of the most powerful of lessons.

In our dreams, life is so wonderful that we don’t even have to pay taxes. Or the rent. But real life, the one outside our windows, is never going to be as beautiful as we can imagine it. But we still dream, we still hope. And that’s a good thing. Without crazy, crazy dreams, we’d still be living in caves.

But I’ve always wondered one thing. How much time do you have to spend inside your head, away from the real world, before you become afraid to go out? To live your life, to meet new people, to love, to hate, to absorb all that this real, imperfect world has to offer?

59 thoughts on “Midnight Question

  1. "In our dreams, life is so wonderful that we don’t even have to pay taxes. Or the rent. But real life, the one outside our windows, is never going to be as beautiful as we can imagine it."

    I get that. Also, life would be boring if it weren't painfully true, and we would be as good as dead without any purpose, just drifting.

    If you actually open your eyes, life can be much more wondrous, in the good and the bad ways, than we could ever imagine.


  2. Intriguing post! your ghost might be called Pygmalion but your love could be plain Jane ;) Some people's broken hearts are like a car wreck – others come away without a scratch. It's the former that often don't come back for more.


  3. Love is a funny beast. As a writer, I think it's very important not to ever get to the point where you cannot be vulnerable with people, or to new experiences, or to the flaws in reality that make reality real. When exploring the finer details of character and story, or being placed in the characters experience, I do find it difficult to muster the courage to face reality. It can pick on you in that vulnerable state. But I think it's always important to face it anyway.


  4. the irish have a saying "build a bridge!…and then jump from it!" it's all to do with real life. if you want you can spend all your time in your fantastic fantasy world or you can spend as little as you want. it's totally up to you. you can spend time in your world and approach the real life from that point of view or live in real world and try to escape in your fantasy whenever you feel like. these are the option. but that's not the case. i think you put everything in a wrong way or at least in the wrong light. as long as you say "how much time…" you are wrong. there is no such thing as "how much time" when it comes to a fantasy world. let's get a bit more realistic: you didn't plan to write "jazz" in a certain amount of time. why do you plan now to stay in the "jazz" world a certain amount of time?! it make no sense. there is where i think you're wrong. everything it's up to you, forget about time and especially for a certain amount of time. keep dreaming!… for as long as you want :)


  5. This world, when we are really present in it in the moment, can be more beautiful than anything you could imagine. Just like real Love – both that which comes from joining soul to soul with another human being and that which can only come from becoming One with your Self – is more beautiful and powerful than anything we can fantasize. People can tell you all about what it is like to love your own child, for instance. And you can imagine and even think you are prepared for it. But when you first hold your own child in your arms it is like a new world has opened up. As you watch that child grow you are amazed to discover that your heart and your capacity for Love keeps growing, too, even faster than the child does.

    What makes these things beautiful, though, is the experience of them. You can't see beauty or Love from afar. You have to splash right through it like a big, deep mud puddle. When you step back and say "My god, I have so much mud on me." it can seem messy and wrong. But you are present enough to just feel the sensations, even of the chaos, the ecstasy of it can take your breath away.


  6. I believe that life is exactly the way it should be… a world according to the perceptions and experiences lived inside our heads as well as outside… If it were possible to "beam me up" then I would never care to transport physically to anywhere, but instead transport to any place based on thought alone. Reality is if we want to be more than our thoughts, we have to go out there. We have to use our senses to discover more — only in this way can I believe that our art, our words could have any impact on someone else who has yet to experience our personal worlds. Our worlds, my world, is nothing as I perceive it, but everything it needs to be… My world, the world each of us lives in, is an ordinary place grasped by others as extraordinary. Without our art… without our creativeness I sincerely believe that there would be many more of us crying in the dark calling out to our own versions of "lady lonely." Yet, how can we fight our lonely if we don't first venture out to take hold of interaction or intimacy? I look at life's events as if it were a children's book written that gives you the "choice" of any numerous endings based on the decisions you choose for the character. This way its never completely wrong, but can always be better or worse depending (again) on how we perceive it. (just my two cents… )


  7. I'm already the kind of guy who prefers to be by himself than always with a group of friends or with a lover. I'm not antisocial or anything, I do have some close friends I hang out with, I just prefer my space and I like it that way.


  8. "How much time do you have to spend inside your head, away from the real world, before you become afraid to go out?"

    It works the other way around ) First, you become afraid to go out. Then you become a patient spending time inside your head. That does not apply to cases when people are locked out involuntarily, of course. Voluntary solititude not caused by a psychological disturbance? Always beneficial )


  9. My pressing question has always been how much time can I spend in the real world without going bonkers. Not to say I think the world is awful, but I have to have alone time and to often need more than life is willing to allow.


  10. I completely get what you're saying in the beginning about falling in love. I agree that it's largely an illusion. But is it really the kind you have to go through with? There are definitely people who I love in my life, but I've never once "fallen in love", if that makes any sense. I never felt that spark. I've been on the receiving end of that feeling, but I've never given it back.

    As someone who spends most of his time working and studying, I'd just rather live in my own mind the rest of the time. Why should I have to put up with the real world when I don't have to? I've always been pretty reclusive and bad at expressing myself, so a long time ago I decided to give up. I don't think I'm really any worse off for it.


  11. I think when one has had his fill of experiences in love, he chooses to go inside his head. For some, it's a resting place. For others, it becomes a permanent residence. For others, the desire for romance and the action of experiencing it outshines the sometimes heartbreaks and protective heart-introversion.


  12. Christian –

    If I could, I would give you a really good hug. We exist only in cyberspace, but the fact that you read my work and like it, from around the world (I'm in Los Angeles), is one of the wonders of the world to me (along with Liv in New Zealand, and Melody in Canada, and Ido in Israel…). So the real world has exceeded my dreams already, and you're part of that. I had my heart broken in the worst way possible more than once (as you've read, so I know you know), but I've found love in other ways, sharing myself and my light in new communities, such as this one. Just sharing my wonders, in the hope that it will help you see yours and give you the joy of going out just to see what else is out there, always.



  13. I wonder about these same questions when it comes to other relationships, too: friendships, family relationships, customers, etc. For me, the line moves regularly, and depends on where I am emotionally. Sometimes I am open to meeting potential new friends, and other times I need my solitude. Great question. :)


  14. Zelda Fitsgerald said, "No one, not even poets, know how much the human heart can hold." (or something close to that). That thought has always stayed with me because it is so true. Life (the good, the bad, the easy, the hard, the beautiful, the sordid, the sacred, and the profane…all of life) is so incredibly big,,,,bigger than we can put into words, and more than we can understand, We can try to hide from it, or we can embrace it, but either way, our hearts are holding it.


  15. "… but the matter of fact is that this world and everything it in, the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, will never be as wonderful as we can imagine it."

    Maybe 'intense' is more accurate than 'wonderful', especially in a writer's world- because we are, by nature, addicted to the intense. And as reality is often not intense, or as intense as we have imagined, it often pales in comparison. But I would say that REAL, enduring, hard-fought-for love is even more satisfying and 'wonderful' than any imagined love, precisely because it is real. Just my experience, anyway…


  16. "How much time do you have to spend inside your head, away from the real world, before you become afraid to go out? To live your life, to meet new people, to love, to hate, to absorb all that this real, imperfect world has to offer?"

    I always live in my head even while I am living in the real world. It is comforting to know that within your head everything works our the way you expect it to work out, it's like a sort of 'No drama' zone for yourself. Sometimes I stay in my own head and sometimes I come out. But I guess everyone kind of have that reflex of crawling back in their comfort zone when everything that surrounds them, the love, the hate, the people…seems unreal. Those who refuse to come out or are afraid have probably seen a lot of this imperfect world and they'd rather remain in their head; world of illusion.


  17. The fundamental question lies in your close! I recall with bittersweet clarity one who nearly stole my heart…and fed it to the lions. Real love came hence and I embrace it to this day though the scars of moments past linger in dreams. I was blindsided by the pain of a prior failed marriage and reached out when a rapier and shield would have better suited our predisposition.

    The mind is a complex expedition of heart and soul and lest we forgive and forget from whence we came our conquer of fear is far from the taking…lo the mind be fate nor prison. The navigation of our quest remains in the mind's pursuit of reclamation.


  18. please forgive, in advance.

    its not my best midnight to answer… in a gale force storm with a stormy mind and a gut full of wine.. perhaps no answer at all would be more proper.. but as i am an erotica novelist in love with the same avoidant attention counterpart for many years… this question burrowed into my skin.

    from my own experience.

    i can attest the conjured romance, the glamour, all the warmth, the amour we desire, ignites from the threes- heart, groin, mind…and IMHO all of their perceptions have their own agendas that the relationship seems to ultimately settle in one exclusively, maybe two, hardly all.

    my experience.

    when the relationship fires burn so low that you breathe heavily upon them for a single gracious spark of recognition… it is the fantasy of what was and what tomorrow could be that sustains love through the hardest times. i choose to be in a permanent cycle of rose-colored vision with him, and for the life of me i cannot explain why.

    well, perhaps- i cannot bear loving him some days, that nauseating high of it, the infuriations, cold moments, the cuts to the heart… but it is the cemented brick of loss i already carried long ago- the loss of him…

    that beyond emptiness…

    was a shard of me dying slowly-

    a cornerstone of choice that i would take what love he can give today rather than none. and what he cannot give, i write about it, and it fills the void. he cannot be held solely responsible for my happiness. that part is up to me. writing about the two of us making love… well… what a beautiful dream to keep me content.

    i hope that helped answer in some small way.


  19. I love this post. You write beautifully.

    The memory of love experienced in relationships does not alter. It is impossible to alter those love experiences unless we physically reach back into history and make changes, not possible. There is a difference between ending a relationship and losing the love. We simply move on, we hurt and that hurt and love will fade to a memory. Hurt is also a part of life. There is a difference between having a dream and not fulfilling that dream. It would take a very long life to fulfill all of our dreams. There are dreams that soothe and stimulate us and there are dreams that become tangible, grow legs and walk. I love your go back for more spirit maybe that is the ghost.


  20. If you ask of how much time I had spent. Maybe I don't know much then maybe I do.

    But my wandering has gone too far for me to notice for what seem an age.

    All I knew is that I had this queer feeling that I was waiting for something.

    But I am not so sure if that something is the something I was after.


  21. When I found real love, it was when I least expected it and with someone possessing qualities I hadn't looked for, but were exactly everything I needed in a partner. This man is now my husband and I can't imagine life without him. However, it took both of us a lot of heartbreak and failure before we found one another. I, for one, discovered I had been looking for all the wrong things. I humbly suggest that, sometimes, reality can outshine anything you can dream up, but you need to be open to it.


  22. Don't have expectations of your "dream woman". The woman you will fall deeply in love with, the one you were meant for, will turn up in a place you least suspect and not resemble your "ideal". Be open to the world!


  23. You must learn to deal with pain. Pain have sense and we can learn from it.

    You must to deside what is center of your life: mind, heart, visible world…? Who is LOVE?


  24. Most of the times our inner world doesn't match the reality… we live in two different worlds – the real and the unreal – or the unreal and real – who knows???…sometimes I get confused – and luckily we have dreams because without them all would be very complicated, impossible to deal with.

    We will get out of our head when we 'll be no more afraid to love without wanting something back….just living any moments for how it is……..Nice post by the way!….


  25. I agree with this post on many levels. I always tend to think that our many loves all teach of things, good or bad is not the point. Process and learning. The important thing is to not let any of it make you bitter, but just keep on growing, absorb and be better than before. No regrets.


  26. This post is outstanding Cristian. The excerpt is not only well written, it carries. What voice! Your follow-up narrative makes me so glad we have blogs. Anyone studying your writing in the future will not be able to make-up a whopper or WAG of a story about what motivated you when you wrote this passage.

    Thank you for a thoughtful post that gives hope to others. That is very, very valuable. We may miss the mark, yet love remains in us, with us and God-willing, always will. I have heard from respected authorities that God is Love and so if I say "Love willing" it would be right on target.

    The quality of this passage moves your books past others on my "list-to-read."


  27. I love this post. Very thorough and well thought out. When I was in middle school and beginning of high school I lived in this little fantasy in my head because the outside world was so hard to deal with at the time. Bullying was a major component to me retracting and not being genuine to the real world. It was only after I cut that I snapped out of it. I'm not proud of this at all but it has impacted how I am now. Now, I am very cheery and outgoing but I always remain a portion of me-time in my old fantasy but I have to keep reminding myself that it isn't real. I know I sound crazy but your question really inspired me to think more about that than I ever have. :)


  28. "But I’ve always wondered one thing. How much time do you have to spend inside your head, away from the real world, before you become afraid to go out? To live your life, to meet new people, to love, to hate, to absorb all that this real, imperfect world has to offer?"

    Are you sure it's fear? Maybe going out is sometimes unnecessary. There have been many times in my life when being alone, spending time inside my head, has been a renewing period. Being alone is not always lonely.Being inside your head can be the best place to heal, to grow, to be creative.


  29. "How much time do you have to spend inside your head, away from the real world, before you become afraid to go out? To live your life, to meet new people, to love, to hate, to absorb all that this real, imperfect world has to offer?"

    The fact that I live mostly inside my head actually helped me to live. I get too depressed with reality that I always add a sparkle of a dream in everything that I do. Most people would consider it childish but it works for me.

    On the other hand, not spending enough time inside makes me feel afraid to go out, meet new people, etc.


  30. I feel like you and I could have a beer. Love is something that is so hard to avoid because it's life-giving. It fills you up in ways you didn't know that you needed. I don't regret the women who broke my heart. I regret that it had to be broken to teach me something.


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