Not having finished my last post, as evidenced by a night of tossing and turning, I will try it again. Love, however, as a topic for thought, will probably never be finished. Given that caveat, let me continue.
What I think I may have learned from my overnight thinking about “Strange, love is” is that the concepts I was illustrating with my remembrances were of two separate categories. The passionate head over heels sort of love, wherein one loses one’s self for some period of time, and then the more enduring (perhaps) less passionate sort. The first, I believe, is an emotional love, while the second has more to do with levels of comfort than with emotion. Emotions being more fickle than feelings of comfort, the latter is my idea of “true love”.
Passion is wonderful. Better than a Rocky Mountain high. I do love passion, or more precisely, the idea of passion. Clearly, passion is remembered long after its object is gone. That may be why so many people did as I did–try to find old passions on Facebook. Passion livens our lives while it lasts, then brings happy feelings when remembered–even if the experience itself was not so very happy. Passion, remember, is not always reciprocated; in my own experience of passion, it never was. That did not prevent me from feeling the emotion, though, not at all.
Passion may not be wonderful as a long-term thing, however, because it can or perhaps always does bring about the loss of self. My two youthful passions were much about how to please the boys and not much about how to please me. It was a surrendering of me to an attempted re-shaping with the end of drawing the boy to me, even if that meant I was no longer really me. This is not necessarily a terrible thing, but it is a thing that should be considered a bit before the attempt is made. I doubt that Evel Knievel ever did a stunt without thinking about the likely consequences. Passion takes away the thought of consequences; it is a here-and-now emotion the consequences of which could go either way, but who cares in its thrall?
Passion then, is lovely while it lasts, heartbreaking when it ends, and can bring about change in the self, for good or for not so good.
Love, though, is different. If love is more about levels of comfort, I think it offers far more warmth over the long term that those probably brief periods of the heat of passion. It may be why so many people are friends before they become lovers. Comfort grows over time, if it will grow at all. As it grows, love grows, until the partnership becomes one where both feel safe to soar, each knowing that they are coming back to love. It may be just a matter of accommodating to one another, but not by giving up one’s self; instead, by becoming more open to things new or different. My partner, for example, offered me a safe haven so that I could become something new if I chose, and I hope I did the same for him. I did, in fact, grow into a better person as our time together lengthened. Yet rarely did we grow past feeling comfortable together; instead, we enjoyed the changes and grew closer. We loved.
But levels of comfort change in the other direction, too. My husband, as we grew a bit older, was drawn back to his cultural roots and came to want a different life, but one in which he knew he could find comfort. I, on the other hand, was just learning about the wealth of things the world could offer and was not ready to settle into the life he so desired. My comfort level declined and eventually I knew that staying together would cause us both great discomfort, as I was not willing to change and yet I knew he needed to follow his cultural path to remain happy in his life. I could not give up my self for him. Sadly, because my husband was and is a wonderful person. He called recently to offer his sympathy on hearing of the deaths of my parents and my partner. He seemed melancholy, was thinking of the past and our time together–although he has the family and life now that he always deserved. He still loves me, I know, as I still love him. But we can love each other only because we can only be comfortable together apart, as separate selves. This is the strangeness of love.
Love, in my definition, both allows and can cause change in the self. But unlike passion, it does not require the loss of self. I said in “Strange, love is” that passion would undoubtedly push me to hermit-hood. Love might draw me back into the world. I don’t know if that is what I want, but it is nice to realize that I could. Thank you, Bob, for the gift of love.