Friday, September 23, 2011

Love, concept.

     I had started out, originally, to write some grandiose treatise on love with a capital L. Almost instantaneously  I managed to turn it into some high-minded pseudo-intellectual-masquerading-as-humility nonsense. I'm sure if I had kept down that vein, nobody would've called me out. Why should they, if I've been nothing but sincere from the start?
     In a way, that question itself relates to my experience with love, but I'll get to that later. Maybe.
     I had a good deal written. Thoughts about concept, definition, a distant yet poignantly clinical breakdown. I had even cited some sources and interesting quotes. But it wasn't working. It was, in a way, but it didn't feel right. Forced. 
     Again, another descriptor, but I'm jumping the gun.
     Finally, I got to a point where I ran out of words. I walked away, let it be, chalking it up to a need to rearrange my thoughts. I came back to it, with full intent to finish in one more sitting, and tried again. I had written myself a very clear path to continue on, but couldn't for the life of me figure out what to do with it. So I forced it. I started just writing whatever was in my head. I began:

     "Sometimes a thing fits..."

     I had thought to have more to that sentence, an ending, but I cannot even begin to remember what it was. That, though, was the moment I finally had to call bullshit on myself. In those four words I had said something more meaningful than I had in the preceding numerous paragraphs. That was it, really. I had set out to define love, real human love, and when I got what should've been the meat of it, the culmination of my own poetics, all  I could say is sometimes a thing fits. 

     It's silly when a person with so many things to say has a hard time saying the simplest things. I'm getting to the point, I promise.

     Sometimes, a thing fits. You really can't be more or less precise that that. So there you are. In the course of 13 paragraphs, 900 words, all of it for that one statement. So I deleted them. I never thought I could be so arrogant as to try and define love, but for a moment, that is exactly what I was attempting.

     The only thing I can define is my own experience. 

     I didn't start this to define love, or my experience, which is why I got so lost in the first place. I started this by way of explanation, so that's where I'll go.

    A good friend and colleague of mine has been writing extensively on her own experience with love, of love, for a long time. She is collecting some of these 'love letters' for publication, and asked me for my help in collecting, editing, and sorting them. She gave them to me, collected and printed, and as soon as I arrived home with the bright red folder in my hand, I dived into it head-first. Quickly I realized that I was going to have to pace myself on the content, as it was incredibly raw, full, dripping with heart. 
     The introduction she had placed in front hit me the hardest. I know exactly what her reasoning and intentions were for the undertaking, but to read her words ("hastily thrown together," she claimed) struck a chord. It had managed to speak directly to some of my own internal dilemmas. 

     I quote:
How many times have we been urged to "seize the moment" and let somebody know
you love them? We all encourage each other to do it. ...What about all the songs and 
and sitcoms that deal with expressing love and appreciation; or even missing the opp-
ortunity to express it and the resounding gong of empty space in your hearts, because
we know that we've missed an important opportunity to connect with someone else.
...It's like waking up suddenly from a dream where you're falling.  
...Really, tell that person that you love them, however it is that you choose to do it... I
don't want to hear your complaints...that you ignored the opportunity. Don't be a 
chicken-shit. Just get it done. (Jennifer Busfield)

     In essence, it helped be coagulate the problem stewing in my head. Why do people (in general) and myself (specifically) have such a hard time expressing their feeling of love to others? It's such a positive emotion, regardless of what it entails. It conveys attraction, adoration, trust, admiration, companionship (be it platonic, romantic, or familial.)
     Is it the weight of the word itself? That it implies so much, that there is a point at which such an emotion has to reach before it can be deemed love? I'm astonished how quickly we can proclaim our love for an animal, or a product, or an inanimate object, but cannot do it so swiftly when it comes to people. Even when they are able to completely take us off guard, stun us, exceed our expectations and take us utterly by surprise. 
     For me, I guess (I can't readily speak for anyone else) I have a pretty deep seated fear of rejection. I generally tend to be a risk-averse person. I've been hurt in the past- badly-, so that doesn't really help the matter. Somewhere it's become lodged in my psyche that it's the only was that story can end.
     Conversely, it could be the delicacy of the emotion. There can be a very fine line between love and hate, joy and hurt, and it's incredibly easy to cross that line. As if to jump off of one cliff would land you handily on the precipice of the other. I guess here is where I have another problem. I have a notion that "love" and "trust" are interchangeable concepts. Truly, one cannot exist in the fullest without the other, but that doesn't preclude them from being mutually exclusive. I've known people I loved dearly that I wouldn't trust a single bit, and people who I couldn't stand, even intensely disliked, who I would be more than willing to trust with my life.
     In a general sense, these are things that need to grow. Trust has to be earned, love must be explored. 

     I'm not sure that any of this does anything to explain my misgivings. Love is a big word, but it doesn't have to be. I have no qualms telling my friends and family that I love them. The best I can understand, there's no way of telling what another person will think of the word, without context. Giving context requires endless qualifications, to a point that takes away the shine. It entails a hold-off, until you can be sure the other party understands the context without explanation. 
     I don't want to go further down this part of my thought process. Not here. It's a dangerous digression I'd rather not pursue in a public forum. Yet.

     Don't get caught up in a word. I guess that's my point. It's just a construct we fit our thoughts inside. Sometimes a thing fits, that is true. Sometimes we can't be sure. But you'll never know unless you try.
     Sometimes you have to let the relationships in your life define themselves, and stop worrying so damn much. Don't be afraid to tell someone what you think. This world can be a hell of a lonely place, and sometimes we all need a little reminder that someone else cares that we're here.

"Still and all, why bother? Here's my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone. " -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

I love you. All of you.


  1. Trust has to be earned, love must be explored.

    I tend to be the kind of person that loves easily...and happily. But, I am a miser with my trust. It makes for an interesting handicap at times within my relationships.


    I really enjoyed your thoughts here. There are a few nuggets that I am going to be mulling over for a while.

  2. Exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time in my life. I for whatever reason didn't read it immediately the other day. And now I'm glad and know there was divine intervention involved. Believe it or not, the above words and thoughts behind them were eye opening. And although I already knew the information given, to hear them from someone else brings peace