Friday, January 22, 2010


It's good to remind myself of what I wrote a year and a half ago...

* * * * *

So what is Love? To me?

First of all: drop. the. cap. like e.e. cummings. there is no need to aggrandize love. the greatest love story of mankind is the kind told by elderly couples quietly holding hands.

love is not a grandiose thing, filled with heroics, drama and hubris. love is humble and mundane, filled with unspoken sacrifices and indeed, compromises. love is day-to-day, surviving the rough and tumble of the living, together.

Second of all: love is a constant that expresses itself as a variable. there is no such thing as an unchanging, pure love. love that doesn't include drama stagnates and dies; but love that can't survive drama is ultimately not love.

love is being emotionally close to someone and appreciating their point of view even if, and especially if, the person is being irrational or unreasonable. to love is to understand. to understand is to forgive.

to love is therefore to forgive. or, to quote Erich Segal (glib as this may sound): "love means never having to say you're sorry".

but love is no martyrdom.

Third of all: "true love" is a state of relationship, not a person. contrary to Haruki Murakami who laments that he might not have recognised his one. true. love. - his "100% girl" - true love to me is something that needs to be nurtured over time, like caring for a plant, and doesn't come in a ready-made package in the form of this or that particular person. the trick is to find someone with whom you are both willing and able to turn passion and romance into true love.

but precisely because true love is arrived at through the action of both parties, there are no guarantees in love, for actions carry both intended and unintended consequences.

Fourth of all: like happiness, true love can only be pursued. the minute you stop pursuing and start taking love for granted, the minute love starts to atrophy.

love is nothing without action. yearning is not an action, and a crush is not love. to quote a Chinese saying: 敢愛敢恨

to love takes guts. but this is not empty bravado, not about hanging on to someone through sheer force of will. at the most basic level, to love requires the guts to weather disappointment, to pick yourself up after failing, and to move on.

Fifth of all: best summed up by another quote from Desiderata, a prose poem from Max Ehrmann which has been a crucial source of spiritual sustenance to me at times of need since I first came across it when I was twelve:

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

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