Sunday, March 11, 2007

R.I.P., and What about love?

The cancergiggles guy died last month.

He had blogged for the last several years about his ongoing treatment for terminal cancer.
Sometimes when you read someone's blog, you feel like you know them a bit, you know? I got tears in my eyes when I read that he had died, even tho I'd never met him, and he didn't know I exist.

Which brings me to this:
We sometimes think love has to do with the qualities of the object of our affection -- and partly, that's true -- but mostly it's an internal process having to do with what we get out of the situation emotionally.
The degree to which we know or love someone -- and the hole they leave when they're gone -- is mostly about us. We create or allow that bond. Whether deliberately or unconsciously, we make the space for them in our lives and our hearts, and determine how much of our happiness and joy are connected to their existence.

Which means that:

a) It's subjective. The grief a child feels when they lose a teddybear could be as real and painful as our grief in losing an actual person.
Likewise someone losing a pet.
Likewise the foolish souls who stood weeping in a candlelight vigil after Kurt Cobain shot himself.

b) There are guidelines, but no rules. Love for another person may be based on an entirely different set of factors than it would be for us. It's as varied as our individual personalities and needs. A person who stays with someone who manipulates or abuses them may actually love the abuser deeply. Just because we can see no way a person could be lovable doesn't mean someone else hasn't created an important place for them in their psyche.

c) The situation is more under our control than we may realize. We have more power than we may have thought to "love the one we're with" -- we don't have to wait for them to magically change into what we'd like them to be -- we can create love within ourselves for whom we want.
Likewise a relationship we know isn't healthy for us. People who have affairs sometimes tell themselves they were powerless to resist the attraction of the other person; but if we realize the attraction has 90% to do with us and our needs, we might be able to see how we can take more control of our actions. Or an abusive relationship as mentioned above -- we don't have to be victims to an imaginary powerlessness ("I can't help it, I just love him...") if we're willing to
1. explore what we're getting out of the relationship and
2. either decide we don't need it or begin to seek it in more healthy ways.

This isn't necessarily a very satisfying idea to have about love. It's more fun to believe we're in the grip of powerful supernatural forces, that God or Cupid or Fate or The Ministry of Soulmateness is responsible for our love life, but the above makes a lot more sense to me than other ideas I've heard.

And of course love is a lot more complex than a 200-word blog post. But I think we do ourselves a disservice by propagating ideas of Love that were invented by the writers of Harlequin Romance novels...


At Mon Mar 12, 04:40:00 PM PDT, Blogger Lisa said...

My favorite discussion about love is in the book "The Road Less Traveled". He talks about this time this guy came to him and said "What should I do? I don't love my wife" and he said "Love her." and the guy says "I don't think you heard me. That's my problem. I don't love her". Then he goes on to say that love is actually not a feeling, it's a verb. It's what we DO that creates love.

Anyway, I don't know that I totally buy into that, but it does seem to support that the feeling of love is largely generated by our own actions or thoughts.


At Sun Mar 18, 01:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger Irma said...

I've been reading awhile, you're good company during the long upper midwest winters. Please don't stop writing your more serious posts even if there are few comments. Crazy that the restroom observations had 12 comments! I like the ones that make me laugh, too. In fact, that one about you flicking the bird stuff off the table in to some guy's drink could go in your "personal favorites" section!!

At Tue Mar 20, 11:17:00 AM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

Thx for the feedback/encouragement, guys.


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