I think about Marianne, from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.
I consider her passion for love.
I consider her words, her actions, and the situation in which she found herself, having wealth and property one day, and being reduced to poverty the next – in her adult life.
Losing her father as well as her valued position in English society.
But she didn’t lose her zest for living, nor did she abandon her quest for love.
She threw herself into living and into hoping without limitation.
It was a beautiful way to live.
And a dangerous one.
He was so similar.
He, too, loved passionately.
He, too, had a zest for life, a hunger for thrilling moments and affection, and Marianne’s unhindered temperament suited him perfectly.
Well, almost perfectly, for when crisis presented itself, he bailed out on the situation, leaving not one – but two women with broken hearts.
Willoughby was faced with a choice.
Choose Marianne and poverty, or enter into a marriage of convenience and retain a lifestyle of luxury.
He chose the money.
When the crossroads rose up to meet him, His character was not strong, noble, nor integral enough to choose the path of self-sacrifice.
Marianne’s was, for she had tasted both the wealthy and the impoverished lifestyles and knew how powerful loneliness was.
Had the tables been turned, when faced with a similar decision, she would have chosen Willoughby.
That is how pure she was, how pure her love was.
It ran free, even when it garnered the disapproval of onlookers.
Her affection, while costly, was a very powerful example – applicable to many life lessons.
Her love was devoted, almost unto death, but in some ways, unwise.
Not because she gave all,
But because she did not choose the recipient of her affection wisely.
Willoughby was similar, as I stated above, but less devoted.
She was unable to see it because she was too busy loving to evaluate his depth.
She was too busy being adored, for he did adore her, and it was intoxicating.
We can hold nothing against her.
Being worshipped is a heady thing.
But the worship has its price, and when it was required, Willoughby was unable to pay in full.
I have loved my Willoughby
Maybe more than one.
And true to form, they left when the crossroads demanded a price they would not pay.
I blame myself for allowing the sensation of adoration to bewitch me.
But I don’t look around for Colonel Brandon.
As real as Willoughby was in the book,
And as real as the Willoughbys in the real world are when the book is closed,
Colonel Brandon is the very opposite.
He is the figment of imagination,
The embodiment of what we long for
The man with eyes to see
And a heart to match,
The man we want to exist.
Even as we know in our hearts
That he does not.