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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Love, happiness, status, security -- we all chase these illusions as we live our lives in circles of sunny satisfaction and shady displeasure.These vague concepts remain poorly defined to us, yet we feel obligated to chase these murky ideals comprised of nothing more than millions of conceptions (and misconceptions) from our individual experience. Our lives do change and can even fail as we feel we have strayed from our course of implementing these attachments. But do we ever truly expect to steer our lives on a straight course with an even keel if our dreams are largely based on illusions?

All definitions of important acquisitions leave us floundering in metaphor and generalization. Take love for example. Love is star-crossed, passionate, blind, and bold. Love is a wild rose, a burning flame, and an ocean of emotions. Love is metaphysical gravit , a master key that opens all happiness, and an act of endless forgiveness. Does it suffice to say love is everything and nothing at all?

Nothing in our romantic or realistic concept of affection prepares us for unrequited love. Before our first falls, we seem to harbor an inability to accept love's inevitable deceptions. Anxiety, frustration, guilt, depression -- all of these negative emotions surface if love is not reciprocated. With no negative associations for love, we find ourselves alone and confused when our love is inexplicably lost.

Once soured on love, we may seek counsel and study proper behaviors that supposedly bring it back or rekindle its strength; however, the raw and boundless emotion of love, once altered, is permanently defaced by scars, some healed and almost invisible and some barely sealed marking evident repair. Even after love fails, we chase our unrealistic understanding of rediscovering perfection: an ideal love pristine and pure.

Much to our disappointment heartbreaks only serve to mature our understanding of the feeling. Broken hearts lack substance for renewal; they can only be repaired. Through our sad experiences, we must reconstruct new understandings of love to measure future procurement. Lost love brings us face to face with lost innocence, and, like a virgin bedded, we must acknowledge we have given up once-guarded parts of ourselves to others. Living through the process of losing control over love allows us to face a rank realization: much of our ideal of attaining absolute love is irreparable.

But, even after monumental grieving and cautious healing, we return to re-delineate our illusion of love, perfectly content to follow an emotional high we realize is now confined and bound in terms of passionate expectations. We even lie to ourselves about the possibility of having lost the ability to love. In truth, we understand the ability is beyond our personal control.

The new rules we set for relationships are essentially heartfelt but useless in practice while we chase new rainbows of  love that will surely stir our basic drives with large doses of testosterone, estrogen, dopamine, norepinesphrine, serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin. Once love strikes again, every heartbeat feeds the addiction. A soldier in the fog of love's combat, we dangerously open ourselves to old, deep-seated dreams and allow Cupid to strike our heart with deceptive arrows dipped in potions comprised of equal measures of affection and lust.

To accept a simple understanding of love seems easy enough, and maybe people who live a simple life can successfully do this. For most, however, the vague and metaphorical tags fail miserably. People demand respect for their many different interpretations of this emotion while misunderstanding other people's experiences with it. Isn't "you don't love..." a gross generalization steeped in personal judgment? Of course "you love." We all love. The negative judgment is often in the eyes of the beholder.

To chase love or happiness or security is noble and good. To what extent people actually acquire these things is largely debatable because it cannot be marked on a chart, on a scale, or even in an intelligent head or in a warm heart. Besides, acquisition is ongoing and unpredictable.

The nature of our desires is so fragile and prone to interpretation. As we age, we question those who find clear visions and marvel at those who question the enigmas. What can someone really say about subjects that defy definition and complete understanding? Surely, we sicken of cliche. Maybe we can best answer a riddle with a smile and a wink.

When You Are Old

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)


Life is a stream
On which we strew
Petal by petal the flower of our heart;
The end lost in dream,
They float past our view,
We only watch their glad, early start.
Freighted with hope,
Crimsoned with joy,
We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;
Their widening scope,
Their distant employ,
We never shall know. And the stream as it flows
Sweeps them away,
Each one is gone
Ever beyond into infinite ways.
We alone stay
While years hurry on,
The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

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