Your Life Can Be Boring or Dramatic

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Hey, my name is Nat and I’ve been a fan of The Loveumentary since early 2013. Mostly I sit where you sit -- reading, listening and being inspired by Nate’s genius and moved by the stories of people who love courageously and live compassionately.

Without taking any or much credit for it, I’ve helped Nate out over the years too. I’ve stuffed boxes for Unbox Love, worked through plans for Love School, edited blog posts and emails, pushed the Kickstarter campaign out to a few more people, advised Nate on tricky business decisions, and introduced him to mentors who have helped shape what the Loveumentary is today.

We’ve become great friends.

So to come ‘round to the other side of Nate’s business where you can see me and read what I think … well, it’s daunting to give you content.

I so respect the Loveumentary community and the commitment Nate has to deliver quality content that makes you a better lover and lifts the quality of relationships everywhere. I feel underqualified to serve that mission, and I have no idea if what I have to say will make you a better lover. But it’s a solid insight. It’s given me a way to combine all the hours of podcasts and all the pages of emails now in my head because of Nate.

Enjoy.

Your Life Can Be Boring or Dramatic

Doesn’t it seem that way? Like, you’re either dramatic and exciting and alive, or you’re boring and lame and lifeless?

Here’s the thing: everyone loves a compelling story.

If you need evidence, just look at a movie theater.

Is anyone selling a boring story?

No.

(Well. Some stories are boring. But they don't sell many tickets to those shows...)

So if you can’t make a good movie from a boring story, you gotta make one from dramatic one, right?

If you’re someone who’s holding out for living anything more than a life of pure banality and lameness, you probably said yes.

This is why you have so much drama in your life. Which you hate. But you also love.

If you think being boring is the worst thing in the world, then the way to not live a boring life is to live a dramatic one.

A lame life is the worst. Better to live with excitement even if it’s nuts.

Being forgotten is awful. Better to be remembered even if it means being a bitch.

Going unnoticed is unfathomable. Better get attention, even if it takes causing a scene.

Feeling nothing is death. I’d rather feel something than nothing, even if it’s horrible.

What we love about drama is that it makes us feel something.

And because we want to feel something, we look up… or stir up… drama.

It’s not hard.

We witness drama all the time, take your pick: Cheating. Lying. Deceiving. Complaining. Bullying. Aggression. Judgment. Mockery. Exclusion. Sadness. Depression. Angst. Upset. Pleasure. Gluttony. Greed. Seduction.

Look it up, any of the above: In movies. In magazines. On daytime TV. On Netflix TV. In gossip. On Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

As it turns out, it’s not hard to invent drama.

Which is why I think so many of our stories are dramatic.

And that’s a problem.

Our culture tells so many dramatic stories, we think they are the only kind that make us feel.

Have you heard Nate say why he started The Loveumentary?

He started it and you’re reading this post because he got tired of the same two dramatic stories being told over and over:

  1. Unrealistic Fairy Tales. These are the glossed over, positively dramatic stories of cloud 9 romance, 20 karat rings, Prince Charmings, glittering vampires, sleeping beauties, and happily ever afters.
  2. Disaster & Destruction: These are the TMI, abhorrently dramatic stories of spouses unfaithful, scandalous, forever-nagging and deserving of tabloid spreads, abuse, selfishness, and sadness.

And then there’s the story no one talks about … the story of boring.

“The fairy tale doesn’t last, and I don’t want disaster and destruction… so I guess I'd better be happy just being boring…”

But there’s a third option. There’s more than just boring or dramatic.

There’s another story that makes us feel: The story of TRIUMPH!

Triumph is exciting. And it makes for a great story.

It’s challenging. It’s hard. There’s struggle. There’s high and there’s lows.

It’s full of drama... but this drama is different.

Stories of triumph have something at stake, so the drama has purpose.

When you take on a challenge, you’re living a story of triumph.

When you attempt mastery of a new skill, you’re living a story of triumph.

When you explore territory uncharted, you’re living a story of triumph.

When you forgive a deed long past, you’re living a story of triumph.

When you let go of excuses long held to avoid growth, you’re living a story of triumph.

When you face a fear head on, you’re living a story of triumph.

When you serve someone who’s taken more than they’ve given, you’re living a story of triumph.

When you chase a new record, you’re living a story of triumph.

When you pursue consistency where you’ve never had habit, you’re living a story of triumph.

When you create what’s never before existed, you’re living a story of triumph.

When you embrace risk, you’re living a story of triumph.

And when you fall down, bruise your knees, get upset, fall behind, lose, fall to injury, have your heart broken, miss a shot or a deadline and are rejected … all while pursuing any of these things … that’s all drama that’s worth it.

Drama for the sole sake of feeling something, is empty. It’s cheap. You get the feeling and then there you are, right where you started.

This drama runs at the expense of human emotion with no return on the other side.

While instantly gratifying it’s ultimately unsatisfying.

When you first pursue triumph and drama ensues, there is meaning in it.

It’s FOR something and part of a bigger journey. Triumph-drama is an investment. It comes with feeling, and as it passes you move forward and others upward.

It too runs the expense (and the expanse) of human emotion, and ends with a return at the finale.

While initially agonizing it’s ultimately glorifying.

* * *

I think we’ll always have a desire to feel something deep in our bones. And that desire will push us to look up, and stir up drama.

Those who choose drama, will live dramatically and experience very little growth.

Some will choose boring, and will live with banality.

And now I see we have a third choice: The story of Triumph.

Triumph. A life of progress. A life of improvement. A life of extraordinary.

Want to live a life of Triumph? Come to LoveCon. What's that? Oh, just another one of those things I've been helping Nate with. 3 days of awesome: anything and everything you need to be an amazing lover and live stories of triumph in all your relationships. November 20-22 in the Salt Lake City area. Early bird tickets aren't even available yet, but CLICK HERE and you'll be the first to know when they are.

"Am I happy in my marriage?" When was that ever such an important question?

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This week I was listening to some past episodes of the TED Radio Hour podcast, and I stumbled on this interview with Esther Perel. Her book and her TED Talk opened my mind to a new way of thinking. This interview feels like the icing on the cake. I wanted to share it with you because I think it will help you look at your challenges in a different way, or maybe even approach your relationships with a new lens.

I've transcribed the entire interview for you (in case you can't listen to it, or you want to re-visit specific sections). I'd love to hear what you think in the comments!


TED: Do you think love is like a construct or do you think it's a fact?

EP: It's an experience. It's an experience that is mental, emotional, physical, sensual, sensory. It's all-encompassing. That's part of why it's so grand, because it doesn't leave any part of us untouched.

TED: When people meet you and you say, "I'm Esther Perel, I wrote this book called Mating in Captivity." What's the most common reaction you get from people?

EP: Well, the first reaction is usually to the title, "Mating in Captivity." Some people know exactly what I mean. They understand immediately that we don't necessarily like to mate in captivity and so then the next question is, "So, can desire be sustained in the long haul? Can you reconcile the domestic and the erotic in one relationship? Can you reconcile intimacy and sexuality when you're with the same person for the long haul?"

Excerpt from Esther Perel's TEDx Talk:

So, why does good sex so often fade, even for couples who continue to love each other as much as ever? And why does good intimacy not guarantee good sex, contrary to popular belief? Or, the next question would be, can we want what we already have? That's the million-dollar question, right? And why is the forbidden so erotic? What is it about transgression that makes desire so potent? And why does sex make babies, and babies spell erotic disaster in couples? (Laughter) It's kind of the fatal erotic blow, isn't it? And when you love, how does it feel? And when you desire, how is it different?

These are some of the questions that are at the center of my exploration on the nature of erotic desire and its concomitant dilemmas in modern love. So I travel the globe, and what I'm noticing is that everywhere where romanticism has entered, there seems to be a crisis of desire. A crisis of desire, as in owning the wanting -- desire as an expression of our individuality, of our free choice, of our preferences, of our identity -- desire that has become a central concept as part of modern love and individualistic societies.

EP: Desire was never the organizing principle of sexuality for sure in marriage. We had sex because we needed lots of children and we had sex because it was a woman's marital duty. So, desire is very much a concept of our society - of our culture - today... of a consumer society, of a society that has the "I" in the center. And this "I" knows who she is and knows what he wants, and is constantly urged to define it and to want more.

TED: So what does that do? What's the result?

EP: We crumble under the weight of expectation. We've never invested more in love and we've never divorced more in the name of love. We're not having very nice results.

That doesn't mean that when we had less expectations marriages were happier occasions, but people had different expectations of life.

One of the most important things we've done around marriage is that we've brought happiness down from the heavens, and made it first, a possibility, and now today it's a mandate.

Am I happy in my marriage? When was that ever such an important question?

This idea that my marriage is supposed to give me something. That I'm supposed to get something from my partner and that my partner owes me that because somehow it was implicit in our agreement in our joining together that we were going to give each other things like:

I'll never feel alone again! I'll never worry about abandonment! I'll never feel disconnected! I'll never feel unnoticed!

TED: The thing is, marriage is great! I'm speaking for myself here of course. It is that person. That person is your best friend. And that's our expectation. 

EP: In America.

But I can tell you I go to many parts of the world where I don't ever hear people say, "My partner is my best friend."

They HAVE best friends. And it's not their partner. Their partner is their partner. That's a different thing. And frankly, many people treat their partners in ways that they would never treat their best friends. They allow themselves to say and do things that no best friend would ever accept.

Friendship does not operate along the same lines.

Excerpt from Esther Perel's TEDx Talk:

So what sustains desire, and why is it so difficult? And at the heart of sustaining desire in a committed relationship, I think, is the reconciliation of two fundamental human needs. On the one hand, our need for security, for predictability, for safety, for dependability, for reliability, for permanence. All these anchoring, grounding experiences of our lives that we call home. But we also have an equally strong need -- men and women -- for adventure, for novelty, for mystery, for risk, for danger, for the unknown, for the unexpected, surprise -- you get the gist. For journey, for travel. So reconciling our need for security and our need for adventure into one relationship, or what we today like to call a passionate marriage, used to be a contradiction in terms. Marriage was an economic institution in which you were given a partnership for life in terms of children and social status and succession and companionship. But now we want our partner to still give us all these things, but in addition I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot, and we live twice as long.

So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide. Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise. And we think it's a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that.

TED: So if marriage has evolved into this thing that's so fraught with potential problems and pitfalls and obstacles, how do we save it and improve it?

EP: Oh yes, I get that question all the time, and I have a different answer every day. It ranges from, you know, the secret to happy relationship -- I don't think in those terms actually. That's the first thing. It's not my language. I don't think about secrets, nor "keys to..." nor 7 ways to..., nor "10 steps..."

TED: You don't have the answer for us -- like the bumper sticker answer?

EP: No. But I do have a sense in the American context, it's often a "can do" question. You know, this is a society that thinks that every problem has a solution. And then one of my answers is that this dilemma between our need for security and our need for adventure, and how we're trying to bring them together under one roof is maybe more a paradox that we manage, and less a problem that we solve.

Episode #36 - Ty and Terri pt. 1

 

The Art Of Loving

A while ago, I came across this Youtube video of a drummer in a wedding band. The band - like most wedding bands - was good, not great. The vocals were relatively tight. The lead guitar was hitting all his hammers and runs. But they weren't anything incredibly special or unique... and then I saw the drummer.

Seriously guys. The drummer!

This dude (Steve "The Mad Drummer" Moore) was playing the drums as if it were his last performance in front of a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden. It was as if his drum sticks were determining the very beat of the earth's heart, and if he were to stop, the humanity as we know it would cease to exist. Steve wasn't playing the drums. He was the drums.

I couldn't stop smiling.

Seriously. Watch:

We all have a friend like Steve "The Mad Drummer" Moore. They are always the first person on the dance floor. They could turn a funeral into a party. They can talk to anyone. They will try anything. They dive in head first, and live life turned up to 11, and they do it all with a smile.

Ty and Terri love this way.

Listening to them talk about their relationship is like watching a professional mime play Charades, or Josh Groban sing Karaoke. They have mastered the art of love by falling in love with practicing.

Fall In Love With The Practice

There's something to be said about loving to practice.

When I was a kid I played the piano for over a decade. I got pretty good... but I hated to practice. My parents forced me for years to sit down at that piano for 30-60 minutes a day and pound on those keys. I got good enough to accompany choirs, and impress a few girls...

Then there was this girl who lived up the street. She LOVED the piano. She played for hours on end. She was in love with practicing. She could sit down and look at any sheet of music and make the melodies flow from that black box like some sort of musical sorcerer. When she played ragtime, you could see smoke rise from the keyboard. When she played the classics, you couldn't help but close your eyes and sway to the music. She didn't just hit the keys. She pulled emotions, and life out of them.

She was amazing... because she LOVED to practice.

When we asked Terri about loving Ty, she said this:

At the end of Ty’s life, I want him to be able to say, "Terri was the greatest earthly blessing in my life - the best thing that ever happened to me - and that I’m a better man because of how she loved me." And that’s the goal that I live with every day. That’s how I want to love this man.

It's already obvious that Terri loves Ty, but what makes their relationship so incredible isn't that they love each other. Millions of couples love each other. The secret is that they love loving each other. They love practicing love on each other.

They love serving each other.

They love complimenting each other.

They love surprising each other, comforting each other, encouraging each other, touching each other, and bragging about each other.

Love is an art, and they are master artists because they've fallen in love with the practice. They refuse to settle for less than their best every day.

Are you in love with loving? What can you do to enjoy the practice of loving more fully? What did you think about Ty and Terri's interview? Please leave your thoughts, tips, and ideas in the comments!

[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"] If you want more from Ty and Terri, you can check out Ty's book "A Thousand Screaming Mules - The Story of Stubbon Hope and One Dad's Dream to Transform Kids' Lives"

Also check out Ty's podcast, Wordz from the Hood, where he and former Hope Center for Kids youth Frank Lucas, provide a window into the heart of life in the inner city for young people.

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