03/13/2012 01:12 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Pierce the Mist


It must be the onset of Spring Fever. Everyone around me appears to be in a muddle about love. It seems that aligning relationship stars is much harder than even Shakespeare suggests, for at least a play has a finite end. In a fictional world, we can go on believing "All's Well That Ends Well" and imagining Betram and Helena blissed out forever.

But life is no Rubic's Cube. It has its paths and patterns, but there's no formula signifying perfect alignment, much less completion. Yet the yen to be "done" -- even if temporarily -- is natural. Making an affirmative choice is part of finding, if not peace, then at least safe ground in a thicket of cross-cutting options.

But enough about motives, let's to the juicy stuff.

One can look backward: take the black box approach, sifting back through the wreckage of past relationships for signs of doom -- pilot error, technical difficulties, and astrological interference -- in hopes of learning from past "mistakes." Or one can look forward, as if enough microscopic foresight could reveal the signature of what's to come. However, too much analysis either direction allows no room for growth.

Do people grow and change? Can we evolve in and into relationships? And if there is no perfect static match regardless, how can we tell if we're close enough to justify giving it a go?
I've always kind of loved the scene in the movie Diner when a marriage hangs on the girl's ability to pass an exam on the Baltimore Colts. If I were designing such a test, I'd ask a potential mate the same question posed by Alpha 60, the evil mainframe computer in the dystopian film noir masterpiece Alphaville.

"What transforms darkness into light?"

"La poésie," answers hero Lemmy Caution.

For me, poetry is indeed the key that unlocks. I'd forgotten how long that's been true. Sixteen years ago, I moved to San Francisco with just a few possessions and the manuscript of a novel I'd just finished writing. The book, EXILE, gathered dust while I had two kids and an amazing series of life and work experiences. Recently, I dug it up, did some editing, and put it out there for anyone curious enough to buy. In returning to this tale of a younger me, the biggest revelation has been how little I've changed in the fundamentals of what I dream about and respond to. I've learned a ton, but I haven't really changed at the center.

In a sense, I guess that's the question one needs to ask. Who is this potential mate at his or her center? Do you love what you see? Do they? That's the only bull's eye. If you want love, then love like a dart, don't get distracted by the board, and never keep score.

Because I love you, everything moves

We must advance to live 

Aim straight ahead toward those you love

Excerpt "Mourir de ne pas mourir" by Paul Éluard