In my online Taking the Aventure classes, we start off with “Remembering Your Aventures,” and there’s a guided meditation (which you can get for free if you sign up for my newsletter!), meant to help the listener remember some of the previous aventures he or she has had in his or her life. Because we’ve all had them, and it’s easier to notice the ones that are showing up now if you can remember what the earlier versions looked and felt like.
And so in the meditation we consider some of the most common ways we experience aventure these days, including falling in love, the most well known and well publicized version of aventure. I remember asking my mom, when I was very young, why so many of the songs on the radio were about falling in love. It seemed sorta skewed to me, especially since, as a child, I had not yet fallen into romantic love with another human. I had crushes, oh, yes. But not romantic falling in love. I can’t remember what my mom told me — something about how important it was to the grownups, I think, which would only have added to my deep conviction that the grownups were messed up.
So that’s what we think about, first and most, when we think about falling in love.
However, some of my aventure students have reminded me this week that we fall in love all the time, all the time, and not just with other humans, though that’s mostly what we write the popular songs about.
We fall in love with places, and then we move across the country or the globe. I’ve heard this story in York and Albuquerque and San Francisco. I’m going, myself.
We fall in love with ideas, and then we change majors in college. That’s how I became a medievalist.
We fall in love with animals, and then we end up with dogs that are renowned for “creative disobedience.” (Perhaps your true animal loves are better behaved.)
We fall in love with a craft, and then we spend oodles of money on yarn. Or wood. Or paper. Or tools. Or storage devices.
We fall in love with a house, and then we buy it, if we can. Or drive by and check out what the owners are doing to it, if we can’t.
We fall, and we fall, and we fall.
And what they knew in the middle ages is that all of this falling is due to aventure. Things come in from the realm of love, and we say, yes, that. That. I’ll go there.
And it changes our lives, in some way.
And we have a story.
Abelard and Heloise, above, as depicted by Edmund Blair Leighton — thanks to Wikipedia — are a very nice example of this. They used to be more popular a subject than they are now, but believe me, everybody used to know about them. They fell in love, and they weren’t supposed to, and they got in trouble, and Heloise ended up in a nunnery, which she hadn’t intended as a career, though she did quite well in it and became the abbess and wrote some excellent theology, and Abelard, after having been mutilated by Heloise’s guardian’s thugs, went on to continue his career as an important theologian and philosopher, though with some setbacks and in-fighting (the early university: kind of like this one, only more violent). But here’s the deal. Before they fell in love with each other, they both had fallen in love with ideas. That was their connection, really. The sexual romance was the secondary aventure.
That’s what I would have understood even as a child: I was in love with the dog; with the fairies that lived in the backyard; with the books that were strewn all over my room; with the dolls, all of whom had secret lives that they lived when I was asleep; with movies that entranced me (Bambi, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White are the ones I remember best; Disney had quite a hold on my little mind); with places, such as my grandfather’s land in East Texas, with the mourning doves calling every morning, the Spanish Moss hanging from the trees, the cows that would come up to the truck to be fed.
We fall, and we fall, and we fall.