Friday, June 8, 2012

What is Love?


Call me stupid, but if simple visual/touch stimuli that an attractive womanly chest paired with a firm masculine jaw line, each respectively triggering the release of brain chemicals in the other and all designed in the name of reproduction, qualifies as a foundation of love, I'm just not getting it.

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What is love? No I'm not rickrolling you - that's another song (this is a serious question, but if you don't know what "rickrolling" is, you've been hiding under a rock, so go ahead and google it. I can wait).

What is love? OK, now you're probably laughing or really pissed. Really, though, "What is love?" It's a serious question. I explore love in my writing because I think it deserves more than it gets in all the steamy novels, movies and other media that explore the erotic periphery. Are those portrayals real love? My short answer is, "no." Not at least by my definition. I'll explain.

Love is a lot of things, and it certainly can be expressed in the steamy near-porn like verbal melange that passes these days as new-age fiction, but writers of that sort of prose usually don't get the readers much past the arousal stage.

This begs the question, why are shallow portrayals of love so prevalent if there is so little substance? I can think of two reasons. One, it's easy to write; primarily because the imagination is all too ready to go there. My keyboard looks pretty boring, so why not write some literary-disguised porn today? Readers are no less guilty. Most of of us can relate to the naughty scenes in some way or other (be it via fantasy or real life) and it's fun to see what's possible (and sometimes forbidden), but I posit love is a deeper than that (pardon the pun).

Of course, fictional portrayals of love aren't limited to sex. In classic British fiction, if the couple somehow comes into money through heredity, an anonymous gift, or some otherwise honorable means, then their bond qualifies as love or at least most likely means some character or other thinks it does. The stories tell us that love like that means forever – but let's think about that for a moment. It really is all dependent upon the financial figures, isn't it? I'm not an accountant, but I don't think that's what love is either.

We're told that many people have fallen in love "at first sight." Perhaps you have. I'm not saying you didn't. But is fast acting passion real love? Is being fascinated with a new partner, love? Sure it's lovemaking, but is it love?

Scientists (an ugly word in this conversation) say passion is the result of mutually shared Oxycontin-like releases of endorphins. So that's love? Or rather, its effect on the brain? Some have said it is. It sure can feel like great, like we're told love is supposed to "feel" like. And it's certainly real enough to have successfully populated the planet, but where is the foundation of it beyond basic chemistry? Call me stupid, but if simple visual/touch stimuli that an attractive womanly chest paired with a firm masculine jaw line, each respectively triggering the release of brain chemicals in the other and all designed in the name of reproduction, qualifies as a foundation of love, I'm just not getting it.

True foundations of love need more than every-day ready-to-rock sensory induced chemically catalyzing hormones that are all too ready to match any couple more permanently given proximity.

So by now, you've probably figured me out. My definition of love is different from all of this. It is one that isn't born, triggered or dropped in one's lap - love, rather, develops. It has a firm basis that is built over time with lots of different parts. Sure it can have all of the above, but it has more of the metaphysical, too. It has trust, devotion and energy. It has patience and understanding. It has shared experience – good and bad – and it has time. And that's not all. There's even more. The unquantifiable, untouchable, mysterious, and spiritual are good places to look. It might not have all of these, all of the time, but with the strength of each comes something deeper ... true love.

Near the beginning of this post I mention that I write about love. My novel, "Sleeping in Snow with Bears," has two love stories. They share the common features we've all come to expect in contemporary novels (You forgot already? Read the first part of this post again), but they also have more. The two love stories in Bears are different from each other but they are similar in one big way - neither is easy and they both take time. And in the end, they are real.

OK, if my definition of love doesn't satisfy you, here's another (and it's not a rickroll, I promise!).