Monday, February 13, 2012


What I know about love could be written on a postcard. I am not loveless, but it's an emotion that's always puzzled me a bit. If it's an emotion. I've always felt too easily manipulated by love. I am distrustful.

What else could love be but an emotion? Well, it could be an act of will. I remember, when I was in college, telling myself to love this guy, an acquaintance of mine from back home, and doing a pretty good job of it for another four years or so. Emotions were involved with this declaration of commitment, but I'm not sure if any of them were love. I'm not even sure, looking back, whether this so-called "act of free will" was anything but a rationalization of something else that had already taken me, involuntarily. 

It could be a natural right--like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It (or the pursuit of it) might even be an integral part of the pursuit of happiness.

Love could also be, of course, a myth--a story we tell ourselves and others that conveniently frames our bodily urges and the circumstances that life faces us with. I don't know. What I don't know about love could be written on many postcards.

Is love something I do, is it something I sense, or is it something I am in? Is it something I have any control over? Do we--as some modern evangelical psychotherapists would argue--choose whom we love? If so, is all love a choice (heterosexual and homosexual, normal and perverse, bad and good, long-term and short-term?) 

Have I, in fact, chosen to love pineapple?

Me, I like the idea that love is a choice. I've always been a fan of free will, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Most certainly, to act on love is a choice. How we act on love is both a choice and, much as we would like to deny it, a social construct: i.e. something we do according to (or in adamant reaction against) social rules and norms that belong not to just us individually but to a whole civilization, constructed by a given culture at a given point in history--and as malleable, fluctuating in value, and ultimately disposable as legal tender.

So what do I mean when I say I love? 

I mean that the object of my love makes me a better person, that my desire is to ensure the loved one's safety and happiness more than my own, that the experience of loving this person or this thing or this idea transcends all reasoning. 

Should I always act on love? Yes. 

But I should not insist on loving when love is not there. I should not become so in love with the idea of love that I counterfeit its appearance, its declarations, or its deliriums. Most of all, I must not pretend to love simply to please others or to feel as if I belong--and I should be careful, very careful, of how much I'm willing to twist or cover or re-characterize my love just to suit the laws and opinions of others.

Would this fit on a postcard?


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