Tuesday 24 May 2011

L.O.V.E.: Love, Luv, Lurve.

All we need is love.  Love is all we need.  - So said the Beatles.
Bryan Ferry said: Love is the drug. 
I wanna know what love is - implored Foreigner.
Seal opines that Love is divine.

And on and on and on... how many songs are written about love?

What does love mean?  What is love?  Does it mean we enjoy something or someone?  Does it mean that we accept them without question?  Does it mean we care about what happens to them?  Does it mean that we want them to be happy?  Does it mean being cruel at times in order to help them?  Is it the urge to be accepted, included, to matter?

Is it a feeling, a state, an idea?  How do you know that you love someone?  How can you determine between loving one person and not loving another?  

Is hating love?  If you hate someone, then there is an intensity of feeling there, you certainly aren't indifferent - you care about what they think about you; which must mean that their opinion matters to you. So if you give someone so much focus and attention, then isn't that love by another name - that's probably too facile an explanation and deserves its own blog at some other time!

If you say you love someone and then at another time you don't, then how can that be love?  Isn't that just preference?

Are there different kinds of love?  Romantic, familial, platonic.

Aren't most instances of love actually the opposite: wanting something from someone under your own terms and conditions, putting restrictions on people - i.e. if they don't fulfill our idea of what we think we want from them, then the love turns into hate.  Does that mean that love is self-hate. Because we want them to give us what we don't have, we love them.  When they don't give us what we think we need, we don't love them anymore.  Their best interests conflict with yours. That's selfishness.  Selfness.

Is it a bond?  How long does the bond last?  For some; a moment - it's a fleeting obsession. For others, the bond lasts for literally a lifetime.

Is it expectation? Do we expect others to fulfill our expectations of what we want them to be?  That's projection and limitation.  But we label it love. In every relationship there's at least 6 personas: The person you are and the person they are at that moment. The person you want them to be and the person they want you to be.  And the person you want to project and the person they want to project.  What an impossibility then to say 'I Love You'.  Which persona is loving which other persona?

I know that I've asked a lot of questions relating to what love is, but it's taken so much for granted and used as such a cliche, but rarely do we actually stop to wonder what it is?
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and the closest that I can come to an explanation is that love is a process; or more accurately - a movement.  It's not a 'thing'.  It's not a state.  It's not a definite.   When you say to someone 'I Love You', you're not saying 'I will love you always.'  You're saying 'In this instant, there is a feeling that is labelled love that is being associated with you.'

Hmmm.  Sounds a bit cold and clinical doesn't it?  Takes away the warm, fuzzy stuff associated with love.  But that's reality.  No-one can ever say 'I Love You' and mean it for more than the moment it takes to say it.  And it's not cold.  It's not clinical.  It's the opposite.  It's real.  Not promising something that is impossible to deliver.  

Which makes marriage vows ridiculous.  How can anyone know what they're going to do in the next moment, let alone for a lifetime?  Wouldn't it be much more honest to say 'At this moment it feels like I love you.  I'm not going to promise you something that I have no idea whether I can deliver.  All I can give you is this feeling in this moment.'  

I don't think many people would take up that offer! But it would be more honest.  And realistic.

It seems that people want assurances and certainty.  They want to know where they stand; to try and stand in a definite position in a certain state.  They don't like change.  So they make vows that are empty and meaningless in an attempt to pin down life; to say "There - it's sure, it's certain; I love A and A loves me".  A desperate clinging, a frantic attempt to fix the moment and, of course, it fails. Always.  

You can't fix the moment:you can't be certain about anything;.... except change - o.k. so that's one thing you can be certain about ... and taxes - o.k. again, so two things ....and death; So that's three things you can be certain about.  But apart from those three things you can't be certain about anything else. ;-)

It's emotional blackmail to ask someone to pledge even the next moment, let alone a lifetime, or to think that you can pledge that TO someone or something. The evidence of the failure of intent to love eternally, or for any specified amount of time, is pretty much abundant AND it's the balance that is necessary - the contrast that defines the feeling that we label 'love'.

One of my children asked me "would you love me if I was a paedophile.'  (Hope he wasn't trying to tell me something!)  I replied "Of course I would.  I wouldn't like you, but I'd still love you."   And do you know.... when I said it, I did really feel that I would love him no matter what.  That no matter what acts he'd done, how violently or atrociously he'd behaved, I would see past that (whilst abhorring his behaviour) and still love that core, that flavour,  that I think of when I think of him.  

But that's my projection. That there is 'something' there that is unchanging; that I can assert I will always love, that I will be able to see past the actions and the behaviour. The honest answer would have been, 'at the moment I think that I would still love him, but were you to tell me that you are a paedophile, I can't honestly say how I would feel.  Just don't test me on it, Darling!'  

See, because there are many people who are indifferent to their family members. Who feel absolutely nothing for them.  Have no bond.  But conversely there can be a feeling of identification with anyone; whether they be family members, close friends or strangers.  

Love is a dynamic, lawless movement, with no rules, that can last a second or a century.  It can be there despite every test and disgusting behaviour, or it can disappear in a second due to one throwaway word or gesture.  It's as ephemeral and insubstantial as everything and anything.  It's built on shifting sand, so it can never be defended or defined.  It's only real as it emerges.  As it exists.

Love, like everything else that we talk or think about, is a concept.  But it's the most seductive, pervasive and persuasive concept.  So much has been written, talked and eulogised about it; but rarely do we stop to think what it is, and whether it actually exists.  

Ultimately, is it just our need to prove that we exist and that we are necessary?   That we are wanted, in fact, needed, by at least one other person.  Because it validates our existence.

So is it that urge that moves us to identify as being 'a part of', to be in community, in communion, because we can't exist as a solitary thing? We know that what we are is always dependent on what everything else is; that we are inseparable, but because we've been told that we are something separate and autonomous, we try to dissolve that illusion of separation by asserting love.  

When we try to impose a state of love it may be that in our ignorance we are trying to regain our sense of wholeness , or.. perhaps love is experiencing and recognising the flow of life.

So you could say (and I'm going to) that love is life.  And there.  Damn.  I've gone and done it.  I've hippiefied love.  But I'll also add that if love is life, then so is hate.  And indifference.  It's all unconditional.

Or... is love....

...like oxygen?


Or ... does it only last until Tuesday: (get ready to cringe like you've never cringed before!)


  1. That bit about you telling your spawn that you'd love him no matter what... that was a thought experiment I had that started me down this whole searching bidniss.

    If I could love my child no matter what they did in life, how is it possible that God could condemn me to eternal hell for whatever atrocities I would participate in during this small span of life?

    Conclusion: it's not possible. Then, the whole of Christianity fell apart in my lap. Then, "What's the truth?" You've watched the results of that on my blog.

    As Paul Harvey says, "And now... you know the rest of the story."

    Oh... you prolly don't know who Paul Harvey is, do ya? :)

  2. Nope!

    And Christianity (any 'anity' or 'ism') is just such a shit story isn't it? I mean... it's truly incredible and great entertainment that ANYONE believes what they're told in the name of religion; this whole recent rapture thingy is a pint in case; I mean this guy's got it wrong twice..and yet I bet people will still buy into his prediction for 21/9. People so desperately want to believe something... anything ... other than what's staring them in the face. SO obvious that it's almost TOO obvious. It's all fairy stories.

    And I have you and your blog, Mike, to thank for leading me to RT and the undoing of the belief. So thanks, buddy! There's not a day goes by that I don't marvel at the ridiculous simplicity of it all even when it's awful, depressing and madly complicated! So, I thank you, I thank StepVheN and I thank Ciaran and the whole RT Forum and all its members. It does its job very well. 8-)

  3. Indeed! What I've found out that's "liberating" throughout all this is that I was relying on EVERYONE else's input to help me figure it out, and I was the only one who could see it for myself. TOO obvious is an understatement! What a joke!

    It's so funny that you thank me for this thing YOU did! Yeah, those guys are great, huh? Pissed me off enough, though, but GREAT!

  4. Oh, and "pint in case", I thought was some British colloquialism. Damn, the let-down. :( And I was gonna try to use it myself. (Pint in a case of ale?)

  5. Hey viv- Just wanted to thank you for this post.
    You put all these things that I also think about into such a clear, direct form,
    and I was saying yes out loud several times.
    I agree also with the RT forum. It is quite effective and simply efficient-
    which is pretty rare. my screen name on there is mz4, and you were one of many who helped me actually look (even when I thought I had been)

  6. Hey Chickie - thanks for your thanks! Glad that you enjoyed it.

    So, was the forum effective for you?

  7. @ Mike - sorry 'bout the let-down.. perhaps you should pretend that it IS a figure of speech and introduce it into the American lexicon!

    And re the thanks - yeah, I know that the seeing is somethat everyone has to do for themselves, but I'm thankful for having a great big boot up the arse to GET me to look!

  8. *something that* .... fuxake

  9. And now 'somethat' is a new word!

  10. Hey viv- i think the forum is something that continues to be effective, rather than just one whammo effect. as well as your guys' individual blogs. it can be repeatedly seen and obvious... and then more subtle stuff still slowly falls off.
    still a bit dumbfounded when attempting to write about it, and the clarity you seem to be able to write with at this point is a relief.
    Also just read your 'Lies, lies'...post which was so eloquent and felt dead on.
    Ultimately I know the writing is just happening, and praising "viv" isn't totally accurate, but there's a gratitude feeling that is wanting to land here on you.
    so rock on mama.

  11. Chickie, you're spot on with the evaluation of seen and obvious and then stuff subtly falling away. Dumbfounded is good - any kind of certainty can be limiting (including that statement! Ha!).

    Well, since the gratitude and praise is also just happening, it is accepted on this landing pad! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Take it easy.

  12. "One of my children asked me "would you love me if I was a paedophile.' (Hope he wasn't trying to tell me something!) I replied "Of course I would. I wouldn't like you, but I'd still love you." And do you know.... when I said it, I did really feel that I would love him no matter what. That no matter what acts he'd done, how violently or atrociously he'd behaved, I would see past that (whilst abhorring his behaviour) and still love that core, that flavour, that I think of when I think of him."

    Isn't the image that you have of your child created by the same process that creates an image of oneself?

    "The honest answer would have been, 'at the moment I think that I would still love him, but were you to tell me that you are a paedophile, I can't honestly say how I would feel. Just don't test me on it, Darling!' "

    Why didn't you give the honest answer in the first place?
    Do you consider him not mature enough to be told the truth?

  13. Isn't the image that you have of your child created by the same process that creates an image of oneself?

    Yeah, I'd say it's the same process that creates an image of anyone.

    Why didn't I give the honest answer in the first place?

    I did at the time, as I said "when I said it, I did really feel that I would love him no matter what."

    However, on reflecting about what love is, perhaps the more 'accurate' answer would have been the second option. Perhaps honest was an inaccurate word. I do consider him mature enought to be told the truth - and I'm not sure that being told the truth has anything to do with maturity, do you?

  14. I just tossed the word 'mature' out there because I was trying to get you to look at your reasoning and wondered if maturity was a factor in that decision.

    I have very young children (6 & 4) and if they ask a question I have no qualms in answering it honestly. They have already asked about death - mine theirs etc. And they have taken the answers in their stride.

    Yes it looks like 'honest' was an inaccurate word. What you're really saying is that upon further investigation a different response arises. The past has gone, and we can never change what we did. Reflecting upon what we did and then deciding it was 'wrong' 'dishonest', 'inappropriate' etc is really entertaining the false idea that we could have done anything differently.

  15. Why do you want me to look at my reasoning?

    And good for you for being so upfront and honest with your children.

    What an example!

  16. I was curious to know what your reasoning was, that's why I asked :-)

    It is obvious to me that most suffering is caused by mistaken ideas, so I have no urge to foist mistaken ideas on my children :-)