more conversations with a boy

I fell into a rather interesting conversation with a boy today. It began innocently enough with us discussing a quote from the morning paper and turned into a deeper discussion about love. Now, whether you are the type of person who tests the water before jumping, or hurls yourself full force into it, I have found that the most important thing is knowing how to swim beforehand.

Anyhow, this is the quote that got things started: “Everything we do in life is based on pain or pleasure.”

Marcelo da Luz said it. He was describing the pain of not being able to pursue his  life dream. This suffering led the 40-year-old to give up everything he had – shedding his girlfriend, his job, even his life savings, in an effort to capture the world’s distance record for a solar-powered vehicle. Without funding, an engineering background or even an accomplice, da Luz had a mountain to move to achieve his goal. But his passion for it garnered the attention of thousands, the help of a few, and has led him on a 12,000 mile journey across North America. For the complete story visit

My friend thought da Luz took things a little too far in his quest, but he liked that such a powerful statement could be stated so simply. I agree. I cannot think of a single instance that contradicts it. However, our conversation shifted from discussing da Luz’s nearly crippling passion for solar cars to analyzing  how the motivation of pleasure and pain applies to love.

ME:  It is my personal belief that unless someone can make you desperately sad, they cannot make you deliriously happy either.

BOY:  This leads me to tell you about the second quote that makes me take pause. This one is posted at the top of the mountain at Heavenly Mountain Resort, ‘Check yourself before you wreck yourself.’ I am not saying don’t go down the mountain; just make sure you are in control of your skis and watch out for hazards.

Now I can appreciate his advice. Safety is paramount when skiing. And I am happy to report that in 22 years I have never broken a limb. Somehow I have managed to maneuver around trees, moguls and tree stumps, making it safely back to the summit each time. I will admit that I have not been quite so successful in love. Those red flags are a little more difficult to spot. But I don’t plan on changing my tactics anytime soon. I told him so.

BOY: That said, sometimes we just need to leap and not worry about how deep the water is. Something I need to learn to do. I’m too busy calculating risks …

ME: Jump! Human beings learn at an early age how to fall properly. If you don’t, you are at risk for getting seriously hurt. But that is just the physical stuff. No one teaches you how to fall in love/recover from it. That is something you must learn on your own. No one can show you the way out of the dark places. You have to figure it out through trial and error, drunken texts, bad poetry, mix CDs comprised of music by boys and girls with guitars and an attitude, and plenty of long runs.

Remember, the heart is the strongest muscle in the body. It is used to hard work. It is used to being pushed around. And I believe that the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. You have to exercise it both physically and emotionally. I am not afraid of a crash landing every now and then.

BOY: That is a very poignant case you make there. I like it.

ME:  In case you couldn’t tell … I am not a wader or a toe dipper. I cannonball in. You should try it.

BOY:I was a notorious cannonballer. Always was as a child. But I bottomed out a few times and have since not really committed too much.

ME: Start looking for deeper pools.

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