I was talking to a friend about love. He was not in a good space for other reasons, but the conversation veered naturally towards this subject.
Both of us are people who love intensely and yet the discussion quickly outlined almost opposite perspectives. You would have thought we were discussing different things altogether. What it boiled down to (for me) was the difference between yourself and a stranger. People both. Same blood, same organs, same facial expressions, living in the same world. And still, a world apart in everything that matters.
I cannot differentiate between love and myself. I do not see the border. For him, love seemed always an intrusion, not unwelcome but not of yourself, separate.
Love brings me understanding (can I understand without love? Can I love without understanding? Unlikely…). Love brings him uncertainty and frustration because of that.
Love is my normality. I feel as if everything is just right in the world. Not better than they should be, just right, the way they are supposed to be, therefore normal. For him, love is the ultimate adventure, everything that normal isn’t. A state out of calm, unsettled.
Both of us are possessive people. Both of us like control, perhaps too much so. We like analyzing ourselves and others and making assumptions (see above 😛 ).
Do either of us grok love? (Darling R.A. Heinlein, English was poorer before your Martian!)
Should we try to persuade each other that love is not what we think it is? Should we try to call ourselves naïve or cynical? Should we encourage ourselves to find a middle ground?
A teacher of mine gave me a definition that has stayed with me ever since. She told me that there is no point trying to differentiate between types of love (parental, filial, romantic, religious), that all of us have not one heart, but rather a tree full of hearts, with some of them bigger and some of them falling to the ground dessicated. It was an acceptance of love in all its many shapes, and I stand by it. There is a Japanese concept (Anime?) of a tree of hearts but I am not sure if it tries to describe the same things. Alexander McCall Smith also says that the heart has many chambers (can’t find the quote just now). And I tried to take Tolkien’s “One ring” rhyme and substitute love for ring. It sounded just as uncomfortable.
Maybe the Western concept of the love singularity merits a revision. Incidentally, Eurythmics have a song called “Love is a stranger” that seems to sum this concept up. On the other hand my darling Heinlein, quoted above, also stated that the more you love, the more you can love, and, given enough time, you can love everyone that is good and kind.
Who to believe? Where to turn?
WHAT IS IT?