Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Big One

Kwithmuth is gone. I can tell because the dead pine trees that littered the streets have now been cleared away, and the stupid shops where the stupid people buy stupid things for stupid sentimental reasons are full of new glittery stupid items at ridiculous prices for Valentine's Day, which is less than a month away.

Love is the big one, really. Death is really not difficult. You get death automatically just by virtue of being born. To die you only have to step in front of a bus, or stop eating, or insult a violent tempered person with a psychopathic personality disorder. To be born you just need randy parents. But as soon as you are old enough to work out gender differences and start to copy the grown ups, love is the thing to have, to get, to do, to experience, to be in, to be out of, to live for, to be transformed by, consumed by, exalted by, proud of, humiliated by, smug about, devastated at having lost, and eternally hopeful of it springing forth regardless.

From now until Feb 14th we will be bombarded with reminders of how fabulous love is, and asked for our money again and again
and expected to show our romantic nature and expose ourselves to rejection, heartache and ridicule in order to satisfy the cultural obsession with the previously obscure minor deity Cupid, whose arrow is often barbed and badly aimed. Cupid has very bad eyesight by dint of his job.

He has to fly around sniffing for the pheremonal clues of human carnal interest, and when the chemical signs are right, and the trail is hot, he fires an arrow into the mess of limbs and mouths and hands and moist underplaces he finds in the great chaos of human mating activity we call love.

This arrow dissolves the ego in a terrifying way, causing a cataclysmic emotional process.

The desire to merge for the purposes of procreation is only the physical side of the experience. How you feel when you are in romantic love varies greatly from person to person, but it's often characterised by a kind of temporary insanity including eupohoria and heightened tension leading to out-of-character or irrational behaviour; and if the love is unrequited or fate delivers the cruel blow of circumstances not matching expectations, it can lead to serious clinical depression and even suicide.

So, ladies and gentlemen, love really is the Big One.

I read that when you fall in love, the experience of the "fall" or how far you go, is directly proportionate to the amount of loneliness you previously felt. I don't think that's all there is to it. There is a wonderful release in finding someone who is sexually attractive, compatible, mutually affectionate, solvent (if that matters - everyone's ideal lover is different) and if your life previously lacked an essential human intimacy the effect can be dramatic.

I was pretty content when I met my gorgeous girlfriend, but I still "fell" for her. Cupid was on target that night. I was one of the lucky ones. I write as a survivor. And though I have loved and lost, thankfully, I have never been TOTALLY BLIND in love. That by all accounts is a terrifying and bewildering experience involving even more confusion and pain, and with the chances of total recovery practically nil. Some people burn out. Despite all the mythologising, the literature, the film and tv, and the sensible cautionary advice from wise elders, tragic, self-destructive patterns of behaviour occur and re-occur.

A highly intelligent, career-successful female woman fell in love with a man who was deeply troubled. It was a relationship painful to endure and to witness. He bullied and hurt her psychologically. She forgave him. He deliberately infected her with genital herpes; she forgave him. She followed him bravely into dangerous substance abuse. When his addiction, self-loathing and depression could hurt her no more, he left her. She even forgave him that.

She was strong, smart, and had a decent degree of self-esteem. Nonetheless, she was powerless in this one regard. The relationship was always doomed, and she knew it in her heart, but she still loved him, knowing she would never love anyone anymore than him. It wasn't her fault. She accepted the fact of the way she was made. This was her first and only love. That doesn't mean her life now is pointless or without joy, I hasten to add, before you run out of handkerchiefs. But love like that (she says herself with great authority) can only happen once for her, and he was it.

Now, this is where Mr Smarty-pants Psychotherapist says the word "co-dependence", and we say, yes yes. We know that. This was a BAD love. There are better loves, and we will come to those. But this kind of fated experience is witnessed in all human culture.

Not all love is like this, we know. Some loves grow quietly and undisturbed in woodland and flourish like attractive fungi. But whether the approach is soft or sudden, gentle or forceful, we are defenseless. If love was a virus, we would be spending millions on research. Love can indeed be strong and uncontrollable, which is why we have an archer as it's symbol. OK he's a chubby little swine in most depictions - but the image is well chosen. Love strikes and you are wounded, however hard your armour is peirced. Your hopes rise, your pulse quickens, and suddenly the world is changed. And as Tom Waits said, you can't unring a bell.

Love is a primal energy to do with our basic nature as a life form. For myself and for all children who are the unfortunate offspring of failed romance, I am going to get to grips with love, arm-wrestle cupid to the floor, and demand to know what is going on. How dare he mess up morals, destroy egos and ruin lives like this? Why should religion, psychology, literature, art, music, spliff and the bottle get all the action?

Currently watching: Wild at Heart
Currently wearing: Cotton slacks

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At 2:11 AM, Blogger transience quoth...

och. this strikes serious chord. not that i was in a relationship of unequals, mind you.


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