I I’ve spent of a lot of my life, a lot of my time, thinking, and writing, about love.
Love is a wholly inadequate word, in english, to express all the dozens of things we mean when we say love.
I love a good sandwich, my favorite bourbon. I love my favorite band, my favorite song.
I love to cook. I love my favorite teevee shows. I love riding mortorcycles.
These are all true, without being metaphoric. Because these are loves.
I love my kids, my dogs, have loved a dozen rats, mice, guinea pigs. I loved a parrot my daughter had. And these are loves, true and heartfelt.
I loved my parents, I love certain friends. I’ve cried over the heartbreak of loss, because love can mean heartbreak.
One word, Love, isn’t enough for all of that. It’s the same word; each one of those things is a love, but each one is wholly different. The love for bands or books or art, isn’t the same as the love of a friend. The love of a pet, and the love of a child – while in many ways almost the same – isn’t the same.
We need at least three words to cover the above. Love-of-object, love-of-activity, love-of-friends/family/pets. Really that could be 5 words, and I could keep subdividing, like kids today will with gender/sexuality identity, or musical genres.
But however many we end up with, it’s not one. Love won’t do it.
And then there’s another kind of love, which is not at all like the above. And we could have the same conversation, because it’s not just one thing, when we discuss it.
Love is romanic, is carnal, is spiritual, is jealous, is brutal, all-consuming. Love is compulsive, terrifying, destructive. Love can raise us to the highest levels of consciousness, like a drug. Love can crush us, tear us apart.
Because how we experience love, is as individual as each of us, as well as the multiplying factor of who we feel this for, who we feel it with.
It’s a spectrum of feelings for each of us, and for each couple (or others multipliers because loves are not always binary). One can almost picture a pocket universe that exists for, and contains only, those lovers. It contains the whole of their existence as a multiple entity, he and she, she and she, they and they, they and he and she, whatever. But it’s that place they create and in which they exist, for however long love exists. It’s all the richness and complexity, all the pain and joy, every possible permutation of feeling experienced together.
The word Love can’t contain all this; it’s taxed already just containing all the non-carnal, non-romantic meanings we assign it.
It’s woefully, completely inadequate for the infinite complexity here; all the high and low minded meanings, the ethereal, soul-feeding spiritual feelings, the sweating, grinding, hurting, transcendent blood and come feelings.
It’s not enough. But it has to be enough. I guess why we invented poetry; because love needs more words.
I’ve been lucky enough to feel this a few times. Not the fell-in-love-just-now feeling we tend to call a crush. That, i’ve felt probably a hundred times in the last three years. That, I feel easily.
I mean the deeper, longer, want-to-feel-this-forever kind of love.
Some probably get there far more easily; some may never be there, some may be there only once.
It is no longer a feeling I crave. I’ve learned over the years, how much it costs to love profoundly, and how much it costs to love profoundly when circumstances won’t allow for – well, for having it all.
Having it all is something I believed in as a young man. I did not (and do not, still) believe in monogamy as a practical system. I don’t belive it’s an evolved trait, or in general, a sustainable state for most humans. But as an optimistic young man, I believed in a stranger-in-a-strange-land kind of polyamory, in the freedom and logic to have all the loves you needed, shared or separately. I believed we were, in the early 70’s, just about to get there as a culture, because sexual liberation of the 60’s had finally freed us from the artificial constraints of having to lock each other down in virtual chains.
I was a bit off on that time line. Almost 50 years later, we’re still marrying, divorcing, we are still arguing about people of the wrong biological sex being allowed to marry whom the wish. We still believe, collectively, that jealousy is a sign of love (it isn’t) and that it’s normal (it isn’t) and that it’s healthy (again, it isn’t).
We’re still not, broadly speaking, embracing love as an infinite supply of goodness, which we should all drink of freely.
As with religion, it’s an old, old superstition and cultural prohibition, which exist more for control that for the good of humankind. But, despite the last few years to the contrary, I believe both ideas are on the way out. Our kids and our kids kids are growing up in a world where these ideas are silly, and eventually, we’ll purge them. We’ll embrace, as a culture, the idea that we should love anyone, when we need to, without constraint.
Meanwhile for my generation, wanting have it all, in romantic and sexual terms, is still something of an anomaly, something pf a pipe dream. Loving who you want to love, remains something hidden or forbidden.
But love isn’t a choice, and loving whom we fall in love with is something profound, valuable, and should be treated as a treasure.
Love ins’t easy, isn’t free, and should never be under valued.
I’m thinking about all this because there’s someone I love, but have never met, sitting at this moment under a potentially catastrophic storm in Florida. My heart aches, and yet it’s not something to be said in public. It’s something too absurdly complicated, for reasons that do not make any sense to me, and yet, social things being what they are, a name that some readers might have guessed, a decade ago, and which no one now reading (if that’s anyone; i’n not sure) could imagine.
And yet I don’t say it.
But the word love, as we have it today, isn’t enough. Words like romance and desire, friendship, lust; none of these are even close. I need to invent my own language; I need words more powerful that english contains, to describe the shared feeling.
Love, though, will have to do.