Love has been in the air of late in Neverland, and it has been the subject of much debate amongst myself and some of my fellow townsfolk. Is love merely a distraction, like a seasonal allergy, or is it the rose that the old adage is ceaselessly reminding us to stop and smell?
The inability of some in my generation to form meaningful, long-lasting relationships is nothing if not a multi-faceted problem. In my recent editorial about millennials, I posited that the dearth of serious, long-term relationships in my generation may stem in part from the nigh endless expenditure of effort that is required for us to stay afloat in these dire economic straits. Additionally, the “everyone gets a prize just for showing up” mentality of our current congratulatory culture, and the rash of so-called “helicopter parents” who swoop in to “save us” at the slightest perceived provocation, has left us profoundly ill-equipped to handle actual disappointment in our lives. In a generation that’s been raised to make mountains out of every emotional mole hill, we’re forced to re-evaluate if it is, in fact, better to have loved and lost. In that context, “never having loved at all” can emerge as an arguably more-attractive option. What’s more, in a world where many millennials have been coddled since birth, the prospect of such an all-encompassing relationship can seem like one more way to see their personality subsumed by yet another “other.” And the longer the utter alien-ness of the concept of real romantic love exists, the scarier that prospect becomes.
Take me, as a case in point: in my nearly 27 years on planet Earth, the amount of time I’ve spent in relationships is so small it’s practically statistically insignificant. And until recently, the absence of romantic love hadn’t even created a noticeable void in my life, at least not a conscious one. But two people who have been near and dear to me for as long as I can remember have just embarked upon a romantic relationship, and I’d be lying if I said this development hasn’t given me pause. Now, the subject of this post is so profoundly personal that I will refrain from mentioning the individuals by name, but suffice to say that the positive effects that these two have had on one another in such a short time have been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Up to this point, I’ve counted the man in this scenario as one of the most slovenly and unmotivated millennial specimens I have yet to come across. Now he’s cleaning his place unbidden, and living up to his responsibilities on a regular basis. And the woman in question had been gradually descending into an existential quagmire, but seeing the world (and this town) anew through new eyes has helped pull her out of that rut.
So let me pose the question to you, Neverlandians: Is that what love is all about, in the final analysis? Finding someone who brings out the best in you and never letting go? Is a match well-made truly greater than the sum of its parts? Does deciding to share your life with someone provide a newfound sense of purpose to an otherwise rudderless existence? And if so, is it truly possible for a generation that has had “no time for love, Dr. Jones” to make up for lost time now?