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Friday, July 15, 2005

What thing is love?

What thing is love? I pray thee, tell.
It is a prickle, it is a sting,
It is a pretty, pretty thing.
It is a fire, it is a coale,
Whose flame creeps in at every hole,
And as my wits can best devise,
Love's darling lies in Ladies' eyes.
(John Bartlet, 1606)

I'vew just been reading someone's blog, it has prompted some thoughts and I want to give expression to these thoughts a moment. I'm always perplexed and a little alarmed by the words "I love you". I find those words hard to say, even to people I do love. The question "Does he love me?" or "Do I love him" - what exactly do these mean? So many agonise over these words. They seem to have something irrevocable about them.

To me, love is not a precipice over which you jump, never to climb back up again. It's not a question of "Has Cupid shot his arrow into me/him/her", but rather, "How many arrows has he shot, what part of the body has been wounded and how virulent is the poison?"

The love I have for my wife is based on different factors: I like her body, the feel of it especially; we have done simple things together, are bringing up a child together, have told each other things, secrets perhaps. She's a good listener. We have one or two interests in common (but a lot not in common.) She's a simple person, I'm more complex and contradictory. I want her to be happy, be active in something she enjoys. She lets me do what I want to do, is quite submissive yet quietly strong.

But many of the same things could be said of my ex-wife. Am I "in love" with her? No. I can say that with certainty. But she has been perhaps my best friend for forty years. Am I "in love" with my present wife? I don't know, I wish I knew what that means, if it's important, as many think it is. She isn't my best friend, I think. We are better suited sexually than my ex and I were, though; yet not ideally. The whole business of love between the sexes is very hard to get clear about. Does anyone have a magic light to throw on the matter?

10 comments:

  1. If I had a magic light, I'd be rich Malc. It's in how you feel. Do you feel as though you love her? Do you love your children? Who gets to decide the meaning of love?

    ReplyDelete
  2. No magic light to shed either, I'm afraid. ;-)

    What is love? I think love is - amongst many other things - fluid, changeable and requires adaptability and ever-vigilant attention to each others' needs. Love is hard work, love is serendipitous. Love attracts love. Love is a wave - sometimes you ride the crest, sometimes it knocks the breath out of you and leaves you lying flat on your face gasping for air. Love is a mirror-smooth pond you can sit and dip your toes in while you bask in the sunlight.

    Like you and your wife, M and I do not have an overwhelming number of things in common - I'm the complicated, eloquent, sensitive one who "thinks too much" (his words!); he's the strong, silent, energetic outdoor type with a positive outlook. We are opposites in so many ways, but that is of little consequence to our relationship. In my experience, it isn't necessary to share the same interests, but it is eminently important to be on a similar wavelength, and even more important that one takes an interest in one's partner's passions. :-)))

    orchidea

    alcina.dx

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't know, Malcolm. We three are so very different and so powerfully connected that I would certainly call what we have together "love." Yet, I doubt very seriously that ours is a "love" that would be readily recognized as such by most outside observers. It is a mix of deep sexual passions and solid friendship and intense committment and intellectual wonderment and some kind of spirit bond that I am not sure that there are good words for... What are the proportions of these elements that cause us to taste of the resulting brew and say, "AHHHH! That is it --- Love!" I'm sure I don't know the answer. I only know I am drinking deep while the spring continues to flow.

    swan

    ReplyDelete
  4. Coincidentallly, there's a discussion on the nature of love in progress on a group I belong to. one of the members says:
    "Another excellent book I'd recommend to all married couples is Gary SMalley's "Love is a Decision". He
    claims that Love is a verb, not an emotion. That tingling feeling you got when you were dating or newly
    weds was hormones. True love comes from what you do.
    When the typical "honeymoon" period is over, and the body's juices stop flowing when you look at the one you've vowed to love, honor, and cherish until death, that does NOT signify the end of a relationship, but
    rather the beginning."

    I'm very much in agreement with this way of looking at it. But what swan says above doesn't really fit with this. Her experience is a deep emotional and spiritual one.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Malcolm, Malcolm, Malcolm. What are we going to do with that big brain of yours?! ;-) Love is so many things...so many different things to so many different people. Like everything, our definition or perception of love is formed by our unique experiences, beliefs, relationships, particular stage in life, and emotional aptitude. My version of "love" is very likely quite different than yours.

    ReplyDelete
  6. gabby, My brain is too big, I think too much, is that what you are saying? I think too much and feel too little. Sometimes I feel that's true, but then I don't want to indulge in self-pity, I am as I am, I love life, that's enough.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've only been "in love" with one person. i don't have much experience to shed light on the matter. I can say that I learn a lot from the experiences of others!

    ReplyDelete
  8. i can honestly say that i have never felt love for another. i have been searching but many say it will find me. I think it's all a bunch a bull and what it really comes down to is lust. That's what it really is because with out that physical attraction how can one be "in love". People say there is a huge difference between love and lust but I want to be "in love" but to me right now it does not exist and I think everyone who says their in love is really feeling lust which will eventually go away and lust will come back around when you meet someone else. Just my philosophical two cents...

    imhomeless
    I wish I was stuck in Amsterdam

    ReplyDelete
  9. my blog has moved.Come visit soon
    http://his-mija.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  10. To me, love is not a precipice over which you jump, never to climb back up again. It's not a question of "Has Cupid shot his arrow into me/him/her", but rather, "How many arrows has he shot, what part of the body has been wounded and how virulent is the poison?"

    So true.
    I do not think that you think too much.
    I do think that love is a verb.
    It is also an organic entity, it is not static, it is born between two people and it is different every time. That is why no two experiences of love are the same.

    At its best I feel it calls forth one's best qualities, we love not just the beloved but who we ourselves become for him or her.

    Plato's symposium, Diotims's speech, is excellent on this...

    Thank you M for a lovely post. And food for thought!

    ReplyDelete

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