Love Is A Many Splendored Thing

A woman sat alone in a restaurant, sad and confused. A man approached her. The man said, “pardon me, but why is such a lovely lady so sad?”
She said, “have you ever been friends with a lover?”
The man replied, “how do you mean?”
“Have you ever remained friends with a person you wanted to love instead?”
The man took a seat and met her eyes.
“I have not.”
“Is it wrong to prefer your heart’s safety over it’s potential pain?”
The man deliberated for a second. “I believe I have made enough mistakes in the past to know one sure thing. I have hurt people with my words, with my actions, with my lack of words and my lack of actions. The only thing worse than making a painful decision is not making one at all. Never knowing is the loneliest pain I know.”
The woman looked down at her plate, “why is it so hard to say how you feel?”
“Well, that answer is easy. We would rather have a friendship than nothing at all, correct?”
“But this friendship makes my smile hurt, my night’s lonely, I feel more pain than love.”
“But you should know by now the truth about love. That love and pain are sometimes one and the same path. Though the destinations are vastly different from each other.”
“How do I know which path I am walking if they are so similar? If they are each so painful and difficult to overcome, how can I know that I am walking the path of love?”
The man smiled.
“The path of love and pain will always come to a crossroads. At that place you will have to make a decision. The fear going somewhere new and foreign frightens some people, so they might stay there for months, years, and maybe even walk back the way they came. For some others, the fear of rejection will be too great and they will walk down the path of pain and loneliness, forever wondering ‘what if’.”

The man corrected his posture and leaned in closer on the table, “and those who have hope and courage, the one’s who are prepared to move forward in their lives, to take a step forward– be it with or without their lover, take the path of love.”
“But what if they end up alone, how can you call that the path of love?”
“At least those people have proved their capacity to still love and care for the benefit of themselves.”

The lady thought about what the man said and thanked him. The next day she called her friend and told him she had something important to tell him.

*****

Two months later as the lady was walking out of her building from work, a man tapped her shoulder.
“The man from the restaurant!” She appeared happy to see him.
“How are you feeling now, after that talk we had?”
“I heeded your advice. We met the next day and he told me he only wanted to be friends.”
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry…” the man began.
“No, it is fine. I feel like I am able to love myself again. I was so wrapped up in thoughts about another person, I neglected myself. But now I am finally happy. I have closure and we still sometimes contact each other. I think I understand now, this path of love. Now that I have settled my fears, I have found the love for myself. I can give my love to anybody who needs it. I am able to spread happiness to all, and most importantly, not at the expense of my own love being depleted.”
“There is no better feeling,” said the man.
“But I still have one concern,” she added.
“What’s that?”
“How do we know if we will ever really find our one true love?”
The man laughed, “that is an answer I do not have. I can only have faith that someone is waiting for me, like I am patiently waiting for them. Faith is the key to walking the path of love. It also what separates us from the path of pain.”
The lady smiled, “I see now, my scepticism was the beginning of my faith, wasn’t it?”
To which the man replied, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
“Thank you. I believe I have all the faith I need. Love. A strange thing to want, though we are all hopeless without it.”

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