Monday, February 14, 2011

Find Me In the Dark

“'She only liked him because they read at the exact same pace and turned pages at the same time,' her brother said, rolling his eyes. 'Not exactly my idea of romance.'"

Every once in awhile, I read something that rings true to me about love. It's pretty rare. I don't see love as tragic or all-fulfilling. I don't fear being in love, nor do I view it as a goal I need to achieve. I see it as a connection, one that exists in different forms for different people. I think the Greeks had it right in expressing so many different words for love -- agape, eros, philia, and storge. I hate that we simplify relating ideas with myriad connotations into one word. I also can't swallow the idea of love, of relationships, as a type of ladder which couples must climb in a specific order, over a certain period of time. I hate that we pressure ourselves, pressure each other, to fulfill relationships in one set format when relationships and connections can take so many forms and paths. If gender and sexuality can be complex and messy, relational, changing, growing, unsteady... why must love and relationships be static and conformational? 

I find this piece by Lisa Ruth Brunner at the New York Times really interesting. It's fascinating to see what we're willing to do for love, especially when we can write it off as youth and inexperience. Some of my best (and worst) moments, some of my most trying and most learning experiences, have been when I did something for love. Sometimes it was romantic love, other times, a different form. But this piece is most powerful to me because it's not conventional or predictable or what most people would define as a love story, since they don't end up together in the end. But sometimes, that's simply how it should be. I like that all love isn't a means to an end, or even an end in itself. Here, it's a story, a moment, a trip, a memory. Tomorrow, in a another place, for another couple, for another person, it will be something else. 


  1. Beautiful writing, as usual, and some intriguing thoughts on love. I've always appreciated the Greek with their varying words for love, and have felt the same frustration at not having enough in my own language. But I also kind of like the idea of all manifestations of love--romantic, sexual, familial, friendship--being part of the same core impulse and connection.

    I guess if I had to pin it down, I'd say all relationships that I consider loving contain self-sacrifice, a willingness to lay down one's own desires, interests, comforts, whatever, for the betterment of the beloved.

    What would your definition be?

  2. I do think there is a core impulse for self-sacrifice, for affection, for adoration. I think the expressions can manifest in many ways though, and I like having different words to express that. I don't know if any word will really capture the complexity and intricacy of different forms and expressions of love, but that's one of the weaknesses of language.

    I don't know if I have a definition, but that may be because I like the ambiguity of words. I do think self-sacrifice is common in many, if not most, of my loving relationships. But I also find that I can express love for animals, for memories and feelings sometimes, and for people who can't express that love back. I long to say love is characterized by respect and trust, though I've loved people who couldn't give that to me either. So I don't know if I could really say what love is.

    I have to say, I'm rather fond of Wikipedia's "definition" -- -- which to mean, shows that love is a lot of things to a lot of people, even if there is a common core.