Love again? Yes – Love again!
Friday, August 23rd is Susan and my 53rd Anniversary. What else am I going to write about?
Last week I wrote about “What Love Really Means.” Then, unexpectedly, I found myself focusing on the question of “What Love Isn’t."
It is often a way to clarify an idea or concept. Be clear about what “it” is not. We use the word “love” so often in society that it occurs to me that this might be a useful exercise for me and perhaps you, the reader. I don’t know this, I’m guessing that Love is probably the most common theme of books, novels, movies, and psychology. Since this is not an academic paper, I’m not going to be citing sources nor quoting authors.
Rather, I’m offering my own theory of what love is between two people as I have come to understand it. The experience of being in love with someone and facing the prospect of having to hold their hand as they take their last breath focuses the attention. It is what brought me to this quest. Having now written a play about the experience and performed it over and over, I have come to understand and believe in the truly sacred nature of love.
First though a quick review of previous blogs about what love is, or really means:
- US – discovery or the creation of a shared soul. “I am the other half that which makes “Susan and me complete.” Each an equal half of the other. A spiritual oneness. That is the essence of the play and of the poem US. We are one.
- A sacred promise. Promising each other something that cannot be undone. “I do” – The words of matrimony are spoken in the presence of witnesses and something outside of us, a higher power.
- Thou: In Martin Buber’s world “thou” is the sacred, divine connection between people. I imagine “thou moments” as Buber refers to them. as a form “interaction” between two animate objects or beings of a life-force. A discovery of the divine sparks within each of us. A divinity that consists of unlimited unseen sparks that combine between two beings to create a single interconnected being or soul.
- Love requires life. We can only love those “objects” or beings that can host a divine element. So yes, we can love trees, and dogs, and even cats (I’m a dog person). I will argue though things – Ideas and inanimate objects can be liked, understood, favorites, they cannot be loved.
- Loyalty. This is often referred to as “love.” Loyalty though is a behavior. It can be provoked by love. We can admire someone or believe the rightness of their actions. Loyalty alone is NOT Love. Love may provoke a behavior, it is NOT the behavior. Behaviors can be kind, or they can be “loving.” This does not mean you are “in Love.” It means you are loyal.
- Things & Ideas Can’t be Loved: Enjoyment, desire, appreciation of inanimate objects can be objects of our desires. We may have favorite things to do or read. We may want to be wealthy, and horde money or rare coins or beautiful pictures. The objects themselves cannot be loved. They are inanimate. They cannot interact with us. You cannot love something that is incapable of returning the connection. Yes, you can horde it, you can have the most and you can abide by a code or live a particular way. It is you, an individual, that acts this way. Love requires however someone or some living thing that can connect with you.
- Patriotism: This is a form of loyalty. We often demand loyalty because we “love our country.” One is “Patriotic” if one acts with loyalty and sacrifice to an organization, a government. Do we “love America.” “Do we love the Flag?” We can value something, believe in the principles of things, commit to ideas and systems, and we can act in ways that support and admire. We can be loyal to a country, we can believe in the ideas and ideals, and we may be called on to die for it. An obligation and a requirement for the right to enjoy the location and even safety.
- Death: Simon Fitzmaurice wrote in his book "Its Not Dark Yet" that he once thought the opposite of death was life. He said he learned instead that the opposite of death was love. There is a poem we read at many funerals and it ends with: "Love doesn't die, people do." I was also skimming through the book, "When Breath Becomes Air", by Paul Kalanithi. In the Epilogue by Lucy Kalanithi, his wife, says "It never occurred to me that you could love someone the same way after he is gone."
Love is a process of becoming. Of being. "Love at first sight" might be just a hint, a clue. Yes, we can see someone and feel a connection. That connection may well be a marker, or a pointer or the beginning of the inter-connection. Maybe even there is a “love seed.” Love though is a process that grows from that hint, or seed or start into a fullness, It is intimate, it is the exchange of breath and heart and time. I see it as the shared experience of divine essence, that starts and grows until we are full of each other.
It takes time, work and an awareness of soul. It isn’t optional and it isn’t disposable. When we are fortunate to find that person, that life partner with whom our souls intermingle, we can find our way through whatever times and events we encounter. Love isn’t paradise. Love isn’t being perfect.
Love is becoming one with another.