Thursday, November 19, 2009

love and fear

The other night I was listening to a song and misheard the lyrics, but in doing so, struck upon a line I may have to use in a poem.

More importantly, it got me thinking about this thing called love. It seems that many people don't have the slightest idea of what love is... clarity on this issue seems about as rare as a truly blue colored flower. And, to be sure, I don't pretend I have it all figured out. My life is a testament to the fact of my trying and failing and sometimes succeeding, and, while I do tend to learn from my mistakes and am willing to assimilate new information, I certainly don't have any answers.

What I've observed, however, is compulsive pairing. It seems the phenomenon is two-fold. To begin with, it seems that many people are absolutely terrified of being alone. So much so that they hardly seem to know what to do with themselves if they do not have a partner. It's how they identify themselves. It's what they do with their time. It's where all their interests seem to lie...

Related to this, is what also appears to be a deep and abiding fear of desire. I think this bears further explanation. Most people have likes and dislikes and are pretty comfortable saying, hey, I really like this thing, but often it seems to exist on a very surface level. When one digs deeper into one's desires, sometimes what one turns up is not always what one expects or wants to talk about in polite company. Acknowledging one's deepest desires takes courage and strength, especially if one hopes to not pervert and distort one's desires. True honesty is difficult, even if you are only dealing with the self.

Bodily desires open up a whole bunch of anxieties. Lots of shoulds and shouldn'ts and shame and, of course, lots of fear. What I have observed seems to indicate that the response for many to this kind of fear is this compulsive coupling, which then gets slapped with the label "love" and everybody just sort of accepts it. But (and here's the line I aim to use in a poem) love is more than just a fear of desire.

If one cannot accept and integrate the various aspects of the self, including those desires, if one cannot reach past fear, work through it, and be at peace with the experience, I'm not sure one can find love either. To love one's self is challenging. It requires work and sacrifice. It requires removing the veneers and the blind spots we put in place to comfort us from the truth of ourselves, which is often more unruly than we'd like to admit. It requires that one develops, as Gurdjieff put it, a controlling "I" so that there is, in the self, some consistency, some measure of reliability. One has to have a self in order to share it with another.

And what is love, truly, if not union, communion, partnership among equals? What gift can one give one's lover more fine and true than the gift of one's highest and greatest self, a surrender of that self, a flame ignited within that is so fierce and pure that the beloved cannot help but ignite his own fire within to offer up? When two are not completing the other, but whole in and of themselves and coming together to burn even more brightly together, is that not love? Is that not beyond fear? It most certainly is not compulsive.

This is the love I aim to cultivate in myself. This is the love I aim to share. This is the work I am undertaking and I can't imagine settling for anything less.