Friday, January 9, 2009

Love and Attachment

This is not an original thought, but I have been forced by circumstance to think on these things and will put forth my considered opinion. Generally, I would not impose upon you the introspective elements of something as personal and fulfilling as love. "Love is the Universe", I have often said - for there is nothing greater. But as time has eroded my once healthy and resilient armor, the stab of an ice pick, the slash of a blade, or the deep plunge of a handily - and personally crafted shiv, has taken its toll. Love is a double edged sword and death by a thousand cuts makes sense to me now. 

Before I express my own thinking, it seems appropriate to at least visit the ideas of others. We can think long and hard on any subject and only rarely will independent thought discover something remarkable and new. Where else might one go than to Wikipedia? 

"Love is any of a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection.[1] The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure ("I loved that meal") to intense interpersonal attraction ("I love my girlfriend"). This diversity of meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.

As an abstract concept, love usually refers to a deep, ineffable feeling of tenderly caring for another person. Even this limited conception of love, however, encompasses a wealth of different feelings, from the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love to the nonsexual emotional closeness of familial and platonic love[2] to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love.[3] Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts."

And so as I considier - I love camping, I love photography, I love my friends, I love my house and I love my dog. I love to travel, I love good red wine, I love the forest, the ocean and the seasons. And I have truly loved a few. For me, the emotion of love and of loving has been resilient and plentiful. Generosity, compassion, empathy, devotion, dependability, honesty and loyalty are among the array of well established values and behaviors I tend to exercise, all of which are born from my innate ability and longing to love. Over the years I have shared with heart broken lads and young ladies my thoughts at the loss of a first love.

When we are young, our father can warn us not to touch the stove, a boiling pot of water or the flame of a candle. He can warn us a thousand times and yet, we do not learn the lesson until we actually do get burned. And once we are burned and feel its searing pain, we never purposefully go back there again. We learn the same lessons from love. Our first love is unabridged, without limit and wildly free. When it ends - as it usually does - it is as wrenching an experience as can possibly be. And for the rest of our lives, we never let our love reach quite the same intensity, the same fever pitch, or with the same fervor for vulnerability out of fear of getting burned again - tempered ever after in the way we interact with the people we love. And no matter where we are in life thereafter, or with whom we find convention, when we envision in our minds eye love's nearly indescribable, precious remark-ability, it is always thoughts off our first love when we were free to experience it. And as I tell my stories to these young sad eyes, I always encourage them to be willing to risk the injury again - for in all the Universe, the prize of love is without compare. 

Alas, what I have come to consider by my own blunder is that real love is both fleeting and exceedingly rare. When I love someone, I find it natural and satisfying to sacrifice and facilitate for the well being of the other. This means not only to contribute knowledge, opportunity, experience, resources and well considered words, to motivate and encourage and invest in their success, in their happiness and and in their pleasure, but to also offer things I might not want to, or enjoy, or that would be painful to me emotionally, financially or otherwise - were it not for my faithful belief that it is necessary and part of what people do for each other when they rise to that level of interpersonal commitment. When you truly love someone, and you have not let your previous experiences  spoil your enthusiasm for the brass ring, nothing else matters. When you truly love someone, nothing else matters. It is the pinnacle of human existence - and how many great stories have been written over time for those elevated souls who sacrificed everything for a moment everlasting? 

Ahhh...but is it only a tale - or so strangely rare that we find its memory so enticing?

I would suggest that it is indeed rare to find two people who truly love each other and exist on an equally elevated plain - perhaps a state most abundant in childhood affairs before we know better. It is far more common that one of a pair invests the lot while the other takes a lot - or some variant of the same - and should the relationship not dissolve by its natural course of inequality - people find themselves over time "attached" or "used" to their circumstance or situation, having nothing more to do with real love at all - the house, garage, cars, dinner on the table, clean laundry, the security - and whatever else goes into the package of convention - but distant and afar from even Wikipedia's thoughts. People get used to this, used to that, used to what is dependable, safe, present and available,  and part of the daily grind - or to whatever has been beneficial in the relationship. 

But for some, it is always a rude awakening having been born to be a lover and to learn you live on a one way street - where the seeds are sewn for the act of indifferent, in-compassionate, dis-empathetic inconsideration.

Love is rare and attachment is common and they are both difficult to shed.