This post continues the bullet list of qualities and experiences I think helped me evolve into the person I am today, given a shaky start.
So far we have:
Limerance is a new word for me — I first saw a reference to it in The New Humanism, a recent New York Times column by David Brooks in which he discusses the ideas developed more fully in his new book, The Social Animal. This is how Brooks defined limerance in his column:
Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others.
The wiki entry for limerance more negatively describes the term as a neologism, originated by the psychologist Dorothy Tennov, for a state of obsessive romantic passion. Aside from a couple of intense crushes that didn’t pan out over the years, I’ve not experienced anything like the kind of unrequited love described in the wiki entry; my fears of rejection and intrusive thoughts during stage 1 — fantasy — of romantic love were symptoms of the normal dysfunctional besottedness that clears up in stage 2 — reality.
What aligns more closely with my own experience is this entry on pages 208-209 of The Social Animal. Brooks writes:
The desire for limerance drives us to seek perfection in our crafts. Sometimes, when we are absorbed in some task, the skull barrier begins to disappear. An expert rider feels at one with the rhythms of the horse she is riding. A carpenter merges with the tool in his hands. A mathematician loses herself in the problem she is solving. In these sublime moments, internal and external patterns are meshing and flow is achieved. [...] The desire for limerance propels us intellectually. [...] The desire for limerance is at its most profound during those transcendent moments when people feel themselves fused with nature and with God, when the soul lifts up and a feeling of oneness with the universe pervades their being.
Limerance is sort of like rapture, with a dash of harmony, a teaspoon of mastery and tablespoon of total absorption thrown in.
Blessed with a sunny disposition, a sense of humor and silliness and heapfuls of limerance, I spent a lot of time in childhood lost in other worlds, from the amusing to the sublime: gothic, mystery and animal novels, TV show sets, radio shows, phonograph records of classical and popular music, music and dance lessons and practice, school homework at my desk or the school library or the library downtown, sketching and drawing, gardening, dog walking, bicycle riding, horseback riding, sewing and swimming. I was always falling in love, with people, characters, ideas, pets and projects. It mystified me when friends would complain of boredom as I was rarely bored.
During the sixteen years I lived with them, my parents, albeit lacking skills in the parental nurturing department, did, as I mentioned in this earlier post, offer opportunities for educational enrichment at times when it was financially feasible. In my case this meant tap, ballet and baton twirling lessons 1965-1967 when my father was employed in the New Jersey instruments division of Singer Sewing Company developing guidance systems for the NASA Apollo lunar modules (that helped put a man on the moon), and, during the years my father worked for Long Island, New York Vernitron Corporation, private cello and piano lessons from a graduate of The Julliard School and an accomplished cellist in the Long Island performing arts scene of that time.
My parents couldn’t afford to buy a cello for me, but in those days the Huntington, Long Island public schools offered rich music programs with school instruments you could take home for practice and private instruction. There was a piano in the living room, a Baldwin upright if I remember correctly. My mother liked to play and sing hymns and old songs from this song book. I sometimes sang with her and believe these times of singing together and of watching my father listen to classical music with a look of regal delight as he conducted with an invisible baton inspired my life-long interest in music.
I am grateful to my parents for this gift of the love of music.
On the occasion of my engagement to my second husband I asked for a piano in lieu of an engagement ring and that is how I came to own the piano pictured in this post.
I still have and love this piano, shown below along with the very good quality cello I finally bought for myself in 2005.
I do not get to play piano or cello very much these days. Practicing takes more time than ever seems to be available and anyway as members of the St Matthew’s Chancel Choir we get to sing gorgeous stuff like this.
Limerance is a quality that doesn’t fade with age. I am still always falling in love. Martin does as well. Lately we’ve both been getting lost in the world of sewing, me sewing tops and Martin sewing vintage tailored men’s shirts — he’s blogging too!
I tried saving that floral shirt by re-cutting and sewing it in a size small for my daughter but though it came out okay and in working on it I learned how to sew in the round using a serger, my daughter didn’t like the cowl neck.
Actually it didn’t come out okay, at least not in my opinion. Sewing in the round using a serger is a tricky business — mistakes were made and had to be fixed with hand sewing. This would have been okay for my daughter but given that she doesn’t want the top, it will have to be discarded as a test shirt.
In Duchesse’s excellent post about eccentricity vs elegance in 50+ style, I told the story of sewing this top using a sparkly red fabric and wearing it to a party only to have someone remark “you look like a Christmas tree.”
Here’s the fabric up close.
I thought it was fun but what do you think? No red sparkles ever or only at Christmas time? Or only if the fabric is of high quality — the fabric pictured above is not as I’m still getting my sewing chops back and didn’t want to waste good fabric.
In closing, I think limerance is closely related to beauty but I can’t say exactly why I think so. It is more of a feeling.
I leave you with the gorgeous voice of gorgeous Katherine Growdon, mezzo soprano and our former alto section lead in the St Matthew’s choir, singing last Thursday at the Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church. Scroll in 3:06 minutes to skip the introduction.
See you next week!