Sunday, 6 November 2011

What is this thing called love?

Is there anything else in life that promises such joy and fulfillment as ‘love’?

We crave it even though it often delivers nothing but pain and anguish and we talk about it forever; trying to understand what it is or how to go about it. Is it an enigma for the heart or a prank of creation? ‘In-side’ knowledge is available but sometimes it is just fantasy, or too esoteric to emulate in real life.

In philosophical and religious terms it is deemed to be a ‘virtue.’ But we also know that it is an ‘emotion’ or a ‘feeling’ or a ‘desire’ that should be indulged or denied. Throughout history, cultures have espoused both views and various combinations of the two.

Small wonder that ‘love’ is used to describe a myriad of feelings towards things as varied as people, meals, drinks, movies, books, sport teams, gods, idols and countries. It is also used to describe sexual activity as ‘making love’ but it is the concept of being in ‘love’ with another person that is the most fascinating.

I have a friend who tries to avoid the demons of childhood by regularly ‘falling in love’ and being totally renewed and completed. When these relationships end in tears I am contacted for reaffirmation, reassurance, or comfort, but everything I say is met with a stream of ‘I know’ or ‘you’re right but . . .’

During the post-mortem, I search for the most delicate ways to suggest that the inability to control insecurities – in particular – jealousy, might be a factor but my friend is one of those people who believe that jealousy is an indication of how deep and passionate ‘love’ is! My friend believes in looking for the ‘right’ someone who knows how to love them.

We all know of people who are forever, after a few casual dates, falling totally and completely in love: assured as never before that this was the one. But, when the objects of their unsolicited affections break the bad news, they are crushed and complain that they gave their hearts only to have them thrown back, or crushed beneath a heel.

Then there are those who ‘fall in love’ to avoid living life alone and face the same odds of winning the happiness sweepstake as anybody else.

Does ‘love’ really exist behind the veils of all of our mythology? Is it replenished when men and women endure for each other and their children; and when people give of themselves without consideration for praise or reward? Is it intoxicated when passion rules and is it tempted when love is sold or bartered? Does ‘love’ forgive us for using and abusing it, for forgetting it, and for messing around with it so much?

The world, it would seem, is full of all kinds of ‘love’ – both real and imagined – and the spirit of ‘love’ might suggest that we shun being judgmental and embrace the world we live in; loved or unloved.