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With my recent trip to Oxford, I have had C.S. Lewis on the brain. I want to continue the conversation inspired by his writings in Mere Christianity, and would love to hear your take on “the thrill.”
People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on ‘being in love’ forever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change — not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one.
In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last.
The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R.A.F. and is really learning to fly. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. Does this mean it would be better not to learn to fly and not to live in the beautiful place? By no means.
In both cases, if you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest.
What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction. The man who has learned to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening.
This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time.
But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life.
It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them. It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.
Lewis, in my opinion nails it again with his assessment of human nature. I often say we are a culture that is increasingly dissatisfied due to all our technological mediums showing us the perfect lives of everyone else. But maybe it isn’t just our generation.
As Christians we know we aren’t promised a perfect life and we are called to preserver, give thanks and have hope in the midst of trials. Why then with love, do many of us long for, or expect perfection?
Sometimes I wonder if what Lewis saw in married people is similar to the characteristics I see among myself and many of my single peers. If “thrill” or a “feeling” is a gauge of quality, and independence is prized, choosing a life-long commitment can seem daunting and something out of our control. I wonder if that can cause some of us to sub-consciously cling to the safety of our independence…even many of us who say we desire to be be in relationship.
What do you think of the thrill? Of seasons? How do you think our generation differ’s from Lewis’?
Do you agree with his assessment that letting go of “the original thrill” will give way to a new thrill?
Can you alter your appetite to have a taste for the “non-thrills?” Should you? What would this look like for a single person?
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.