Now that Valentine’s Day is over, and the pressure is off to express myself by way of expensive Hallmark cards, I’ve given this love thing some serious thought. My Valentine’s Day gift of choice has always been music; I’m a fan of both giving, and receiving homemade music CDs that truly express how I feel in the format I’m most comfortable with: words set to music. Here’s what I think about love, inspired by some classic (and not so classic) songs about love.
If you’re a fan of popular music, a small sampling may lead you to believe that love is in the air (Tom Jones); love is all around us (The Troggs); love stinks (J. Geils Band); and love hurts (Nazareth). Is love all these things, and a lot more? Maybe, maybe not. Of course, there are probably thousands of songs about love, each with its own take. But for now, four is enough (kids and songs). Let’s break it down.
Love is definitely in the air. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day. It’s floating around, hovering over high schools, mini-marts, retirement homes, factories and prisons. It’s on Main St. of small towns like mine, it’s lingering still at the intersection of Haight & Ashbury (though not as free as it once was), it’s pounding the pavement on Wall St. and probably even rearing its fair head in war zones all over the world. After all, enemy combatants need lovin’ too. But like air, you can’t see it. Sometimes, romantic love for someone else is just dormant—giving you more time to fall in love with yourself, which is precisely when others will notice that you are lovable.
Love really is all around us. The dictionary says that love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, a child, or friend; sexual passion or desire.” Of course, this last one refers to the physical act of wanting to get with someone. Like, when my dog attaches himself to the leg of the cable guy and won’t let go, as if to say, “Let me love you!”
The dictionary doesn’t say anything about loving objects. It’s all about people and feelings. So if we are to believe the dictionary, we can’t really love things. We can’t really love our cars, or our phones, or food, regardless of the sexy noises we make when we drive, talk, or eat. I do think animals can feel love for one another. Take my dog (the same one who loves the cable guy) and my cat, Pickles. There is no doubt in my mind that they are in love. I don’t know anyone who would put their nose where those two do without a deep and abiding affection for one another.
Love does not stink. Love coming to a tragic end stinks; loving the wrong person stinks; loving someone who doesn’t love you back certainly stinks. All those feelings resulting from those situations definitely stink, but love itself? No way. How could it? It’s the emotions that one mistakenly labels as love that stink: obsession, dependence, desperation. It’s what humans do with love that stinks: treat it carelessly, abuse it, abandon it, let it fade away, stifle it, submerge it, suffocate it, allow other things to eclipse it. This last one is a biggy. It happens all the time in relationships. Two people get up each morning and only see the same person who was there yesterday. Seeing this same person, but only going as deeply as seeing a face, he or she also sees the same mistakes, the same shortcomings, the same disappointing habits as the day before. The father of a friend of mine, during a recent e-mail discussion about relationships, said, “If you married a wonderful person, you need to be able to recognize that fact every day as a new thing, and not as boring old patterns of behavior; you have to see them as they are today, not how your mind pictures them based upon your preconceptions of who they are. Don’t let your brain cut off new data about your partner.” What I took away from that is, loving is seeing one another with fresh eyes, not just every day, but several times a day, and fanning the embers into a flame, remembering to stoke and to stroke, even when you feel the pull of the autopilot switch.
Therefore, love is remembering; he was someone before he met you. He had highs and lows and dreams and disappointments and comebacks and setbacks; job offers and perfect games and sublime moments alone in nature. He experienced moments with lovers that left him daydreaming for the entire next day. He felt he would live forever, and it was before you ever came along. And that is what attracted you to him.
Love is remembering; she was someone before she met you. She had a brain and goals and aspirations and a job she loved and promotions and the respect of people who knew her. She had moments where she stared at the phone for hours and then it rang and it was him and it was perfect. She was swept off her feet and dumped on her ass and pulled up by the strength of her own soul. She left a trail of broken hearts in a wake of her own tears. She was powerful, and it was before you ever came along. And that is what attracted you to her.
If you only see the person who buys the groceries, who mows the lawn, who pissed you off last Saturday, who can’t remember appointments, who spends too much on clothes, who watches too much football, or who takes too long getting home or getting ready, you are treating love carelessly, abusing it, abandoning it, letting it fade away, stifling it, submerging it, suffocating it, and allowing other things to eclipse it.
So whether you are “a prisoner of love” (Perry Como), think love is “a many splendored thing” (Four Aces), or even if “you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling,” (Righteous Bros.) “stop, in the name of love” (Supremes), and remember that “all you need is love” (Beatles).
Photo from the Microsoft Office Clipart Collection
First Posted At The Surreal Housewife