We sometimes develop relationships that define us to ourselves. Who knows the intricate mechanisms of obsessions, but I have found myself driven and inspired by distant and not so distant passions. These painful rejections (real or imagined) once resulted in some of my most inspired work. But I know it is out of character for our time.
Yet this has been the convention of the world. Unrequited love often results in masterpieces of art. The agony of love creates a vacuum, a void that must be filled. Agony once was not merely intense pain or suffering. It comes from the Greek agonia "a (mental) struggle for victory," originally "a struggle for victory in the games," from agon "assembly for a contest," from agein "to lead".
Agony is not only deep suffering, but a vying for victory, a conquest over the rejected love, not physically, but through the triumph of what emerges spiritually and artistically. Thus Beethoven in his agony and despair over the unreturned love of his distant beloved creates the first song cycle, An Die Ferne Geliebte, transcending the moment and living on in perpetuity.
Looking back, I am deeply indebted to all those stunning creatures who spurned me, rejected me, and treated me like dirt (knowingly or inadvertently). They triggered my most creative and original outbursts. Without them my life would have been mundane and colorless. It has been a joy to undergo such agony. To those who gave their love, I regret that my interior map was charted to agonize my way through relationships. The journey has been painful, but not without its moments. There is nothing like pain to let you know you are alive.
There really is no room for such agony in modern times.