I. Of A Life Without Love
“every true story — that is to say, every love story — is a sad one. because if anything about life on earth rings true, it’s unfulfilled yearning, unmet longing, dissatisfaction. the characters that initially seem so simple often turn out to be so tragic, and before long, you realize that there are no simple characters, and that all of them are tragic.1”
Why is it that love must be so complex? Compared to love, all other emotions seem so simple to deal with. We’re the smartest creatures on earth, we’re living in the age of information, yet something which should be so simple remains a mystery. What causes love? What =IS= love, really? I had a girlfriend once who asked me what I thought love was and how you knew. I gave her an answer which, at that point in time, I believed to be true. I now know that the question cannot be answered. I don’t know what love is and there is no way to know for sure.
The dictionary defines love as “attraction based on sexual desire” (in the sense of two people “inspired by affection”). If this is the case, then love, as we know it, is nothing more than what is commonly referred to as lust. If this is the case, then what is love? We need a new word for it. Far be it for me to make up a new word. The problem is, even if we make up a new word, no one will stop using love. Say the word. Right now, out loud. Love. Feels good, doesn’t it? The word stirs up emotions of, well, love! Even if you don’t know what love is, or you’ve never been in love, there’s something there when you say it, when you think about it. It’s instinctual, you know that love is the only real magic, the richest treasure in the world, the only sure thing in the universe, even if you’ve never been graced by it.
Do you love your mother? Prove it. How do you know? Why do you love her? Because you’re supposed to? Because she brought you into this world? Didn’t your father also have something to do with that? Because she fed you, clothed you and raised you? Is it because you feel you owe her something? Of course not. It’s because, that’s why. There =are= no answers. You can answer yes to any of the above, but surely it’s deeper than that. Even if you can’t stand one (or both) of your parents, don’t you still love them? What about love for friends? There’s some sort of devotion to true friends; a feeling that you’d do anything for them. My point is that there are different kinds of love; kinds not based on sexual desire (although if you subscribe to the idea of the Oedipus Complex, then I suppose love for your mother could be, on some basic level, sexual desire).
I spoke earlier of other emotions. I find it interesting that love can be a catalyst for all other emotions. Love can lead to joy, sadness, misery, happiness, depression, anger, jealousy, et hoc genus omne. Love can inspire men to great ends, or drive them to their wit’s ends. I’ve been on both sides of the court, and there is definitely a better side to be on.
Why can’t we understand love? You know when you’re jealous, you know when you’re angry, you know when you’re happy, but you don’t know, for sure, when you’re in love. That is, unless you use the dictionary definition, you don’t know.
On Bolt, I have a tagbook (for those who don’t know, a tagbook is sort of a poll or survey) which poses the following question: “If you love something and you set it free and it comes back to you, then it’s yours forever. But if you love something and you set it free and it doesn’t come back, then what the hell are you supposed to do?” The responses I’ve gotten vary widely. Most people have said cry a lot and try to get it back. I have, and folks, it doesn’t always work out, I’m afraid (that’ll be the topic for my next blog-essay).
Love is supposed to be the end-all emotion. It’s supposed to be the best of all the emotions. While you’re in love, you’re on cloud nine, you feel like you’re floating. Every particle in your body tingles and fizzes and you want to cry for being so happy. Nothing can trouble you or bring you down because you’re on top of the world. And when love ends, words can’t describe. Not that you’d want to read about it, anyway. One of my ex’s and I always had this thing about “no words.” It was supposed to mean that we loved each other so much, no words could begin to describe how we felt about one another. And that still rings true. No words can describe the way I feel without her.
II. Of Life and Love
“every true story — that is to say, every love story — is a happy one. because there’s hope where there’s need, and salvation where there’s desperation. somehow, strength is perfected through weakness.1”
Love, for all the hardships it can bring, is wonderful. As I said before, when you’re in love, nothing can get you down. It’s a natural high. Think of all that love inspires. People want to spontaneously do nice things for one another. If you’ve got a crush on someone, you ask them out on a date. Usually the date involves dinner (or some meal) and a movie (or some form of entertainment), to which the person who was asked out is treated. The asker is, society teaches us, expected to pay both ways. What a nice thing to do for someone! Who wouldn’t want this?
It’s society that also causes people to turn others down. I was uncool until college. Now people seem to fancy me a pretty interesting guy. But many of the social groups that existed in high school (and even grade school) can be seen in college. Granted, most people don’t care about cliques and such in college, but the people who were part of the “in crowd” in high school seem to try and perpetuate that in college (which I think is funny. They now have to deal with being just as worthless as the rest of us). Anyway, back in high school it was hard to ask out the girls I found attractive because most of them had an image to uphold. Going out with me would stir the pot a little too much, apparently. I now consider it their loss, but at the time it wasn’t so easy to dismiss. Society, once again, takes a potentially uplifting situation and drags it down.
Love inspires more than just free dinners, however. It seems like at least 80% of songs that exist are about love, in some way or another. Take one fresh and tender kiss. Add one stolen night of bliss. One girl, one boy, some grief, some joy. Memories are made of this. That’s Dean Martin, by the way (for the unsavvy (and everyone in my generation who listen to crappy music)). It’s interesting how I could never find songs to describe the way I felt until recently. Then I came across Ben Harper and David Gray and Gaelic Storm. Black =is= the Colour of my true love’s hair.
III. Of Lovers Past
Sometimes I wonder if She thinks about me. I think about Her all the damn time, there’s nothing I can do about it. And I compare. I compare people to Her. I don’t mean to do it, and I certainly don’t want to, but I do. She understood me better than anyone else, ever. She could look in my eyes and just know. Know what I was thinking, what I was feeling, what sort of mood I was in. When I was with Her, there was nothing else. And now that I’m without Her, there’s no one else.
At least, that’s the way I feel. I spent about two or three hours laying awake last night thinking about Her. I am, for the record, admitting that I am still in love with Her. I am admitting that I am not over Her. I am admitting that I am =very= jealous of everyone She goes out with. And I am realizing that it is destroying my life. I want to live in the past because I was happy then. I want to live in the past because I was with Her then. I want to go back to a life more ordinary. But of course, I can’t have that. I can’t go back and relive my life.
In the Terry Pratchett novels, Death (not the action, but the anthropomorphic personification) says “EVERYONE GETS WHAT THEY THINK IS COMING TO THEM.” Ergo, “bad people who think they’re going to some paradise actually do get there. And good people who fear they’re going to some kind of horrible place really suffer.” Perhaps if my idea of heaven is for things to be back how they were, and I kill myself, then I’ll be with Her for all of eternity.
Misery is an option.
1: Excerpts from Instant Loser.
UPDATE: Removed dead link to instantloser.com (which I now own, by the way). – TJB 23 September 2004
UPDATE: I no longer own instantloser.com. – TJB 07 October 2005