What about love? There’s a topic that’s been dissected, written, poured over, expounded upon to excess. Because we’ve probably all felt love at one point or another in our lives, and there are so many sticky issues, so many surprises. Love can draw you into the depths of a darkness that defies logic, and just as quickly, just as definitely, bring fill you with a sense of euphoria that overwhelms all sensibility. Right away people think of romantic love, that’s obviously a biggie, and the other loves we feel so often seem tamely calm by contrast that we can forget their impact on our lives.

For most of us, first love is parental love. Our infant selves loved without question, without limit. There’s no way of making it through childhood unscarred. And this with loving, caring parents who want the best for their children, who mean no harm. We long to make them proud, and in our tiny child worlds we suffer the hardest strike of failure when we think we have not met the mark. It is in this framework that we learn we are not perfect, long before we realize that they, our parents, are not perfect either. But also, our love for our parents, and their love for us, follows us, always faithful, allowing for our mistakes, bolstering us in the face of the adversities of life. From our parents we learn of love in darkness and light.

The love we feel for our children is fraught with peril, this love takes us by surprise no matter how much we expect it, overwhelmed by the shear force of emotion, at the lengths we know we’d go to to protect this life put in our trust, and knowing even as we dedicate ourselves to our children there will be missteps, errors, slights that we did not intend. I do not mean to be the harbinger of doom, to point out that all love is flawed, it is, but that’s beside the point. Our children forgive us our missteps, it is from them that we learn the largess, the generosity of true love, the ability to see beyond the details into the solid force of it.

As children we discover the extensive pallet of love, how it covers all manner of family; siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and the rest. That our friends fit into this rubric too, that there are degrees of love, even if we cannot find any exact measure.

There is an understanding early on that romantic love exists, that one day our hearts will open in this different way, enveloping us in a love like no other. This other word, lust, skirts around us, ready to take us in, take us by surprise, toss us headlong so that we fall hard when we fall in love, landing in a heap, heaving and shaking, simultaneously without doubt and completely unsure.

There had been an assumption, from culture, from parents, from… and I waited patiently as friend after friend developed this thing called a crush on one or another cute guy. So the rush of feeling I felt the first time I saw a girl in that way was not immediately clear to me. I did not define this sudden sense of longing as love or lust, at first it was just some strange affliction that caused heart palpitations, but with time I understood, this was it, the ‘love’ they all talked about.

And still, nothing prepared me, more than three decades later, for this love I am in. At the cusp of fifty I found myself as shy as a school boy, as sleepless as a youngster with a first crush, overwhelmed by the raw force of emotion she brought out in me. I ascribed it to nothing but carnal desire, there was no doubt that her physical self threw me into all manner of want, so it was easy enough to be jaded about it, to tell myself it was casual, I was good at sex without strings, it was no big deal. I fell into that boiling pot of emotion as innocent as a lobster.

how does one define this visceral yet intangible state of being?

 

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Comments
  1. I love being in love. It’s the most interesting, powerful and exciting feeling that I’ve ever felt but yet I could never accurately describe it. 🙂

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