Love is all there is, is all there is ...

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Feb. 13, 2003

Dear Leslie,

The word gets abused a lot. This time of year it's used to sell chocolates and flowers and lingerie. There's nothing wrong with giving someone you love any of those things, though in my case you can hold the lingerie. What's wrong is to mistake love for promises of moonlit forevers.

Far better would be a promise to let love take you wherever you need to go.

Love is lots of things: The most powerful force in the universe, stronger than gravity and Kryptonite.

It is union with another soul. Love dissolves the illusion of separateness between us and another.

Love is free, never earned. Often we do things in the hope of being loved in return. That is approval, not love.

Another force at work in the world is often mistaken for love. That's eros. We all know the feeling of being smitten. Being smitten is not love, but it makes love possible. Eros is the desire to know another soul.

This song by the Irish singer Enya, "On Your Shore," describes the feeling for me.

Strange how my heart beats

To find myself upon your shore.

Strange how I still feel

My loss of comfort gone before.

Cool waves wash over and drift away with dreams of youth

so time is stolen, I cannot hold you long enough.

When two people get married, the conventional idea is that they love each other. But that is really when the getting to know you part begins, isn't it. It is a day-to-day deepening of understanding the strangeness. I hardly knew DC when we got married. Nine years later, if I think I know what she'll do or think in a situation, I usually am surprised. Love destroys overconfidence.

Love doesn't end, but the desire to know more about someone else sometimes does. That's when the marital partners have chosen comfort rather than love.

DC and I have had times when we chose comfort over intimacy. We both have yielded our separateness in stops and starts. It is an endless and mighty struggle for union that is occurring throughout the endless universe. It is all there is.

You remember the woman I was unrequitedly smitten with when I lived in Southern California. She wrote me a letter a few years ago explaining that the reason she rejected me was that her family accepted me so readily. She'd been trying since she was a child to get that kind of love from them and never felt she did. She could not love me because she was jealous of me.

In other relationships, I was the one who could not love. The reasons became known to me, too, only years later. The trick is to do the figuring out before you bail out.

From the moment we are born, every one of us wants unlimited and exclusive love. It's an immature expectation. But all of us have the impulse to love and be loved. Misunderstandings and fear get in the way.

I think of love as a divine river that runs through us all. It takes some bravery to jump in and more to explore the depths.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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