Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What does it mean to be in love?

Does love really conquer all?

Does being in love actually mean that one's judgement is shunted out of the circuit so that it's like being drunk, not even knowing that you aren't assessing the other person clearly?

And maybe the most appalling question of all: why should we assume that love even has any kind of adversary to conquer?

Love joins two into one -- wife and husband; mother and child; father and child; brother and sister and the whole extended family.

Pairs and larger networks of pairs are formed from the silken bonds of love. Such bonds limit personal freedom, perhaps, but also open vistas of experience beyond the "self."

Such a gift is divine, from beyond our reality, from the maker of our reality. It is in fact an inextricable attribute of our reality.

Without Love there could be no universe. (well, to me that's an axiom, to others it's a postulate yet to be proven, but let's consider what it means if it is an axiom and needs no proof).

If Love is an attribute of "Reality" such that its absense would abrogate the manifestation of what we deem reality -- then what is there for Love to Conquer?

Nothing within "Reality" could possibly oppose Love, at least not in any noticable way because Love is in fact synonymous with Reality.

So then is Romance really about "falling in Love" and drowning in a false projection of Reality - a fabrication of the mind that bears no actual resemblance to reality?

Or is that vision that is bestowed upon those who have "Fallen in Love" the actual real Reality, and what we live in everyday is the false view?

In other words, if Love is the silken cord that binds all Reality, then when someone falls in love and sees only the good and great atttributes of the object of their love, they are actually "seeing" the truth of the person -- the point at which that person is connected to the ineffable, the creator of reality.

Maybe, as readers of Romance, we could learn to cultivate that vision of the people around us, to see in others all those wondrous attributes we could only wish we had and ignore or discard or filter out the more negative traits?

What does the phrase "fall in love" actually suggest? If our normal perceptive state is "higher" than that of someone in the grip of Romance, then the person in love is far more "down to Earth" - more practical - more in touch with nature and reality than we are in everyday consciousness.

Is it really necessary to be "In Love" -- fallen down from a presumably "higher" state -- to see the truth of the best in human nature?

Can we, with a little practice, open our inner eye and see that truth in others, even when it is only potential, only not-quite manifested?

Is that the exercise that incessant reading of Romance novels is all about: not sinking into delusion and wish-fulfillment but a practical means to cutting through to the stark practical reality beneath our daily lives?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating. In his chapter on Eros in THE FOUR LOVES, C. S. Lewis says the condition of being in love causes us to behave with a self-forgetful devotion to one other person's happiness and welfare that, if we were perfected saints, we would have toward everyone. His friend Charles Williams (in so far as I know and understand about his work, which is more difficult reading) seems to agree with your post -- when we fall in love with someone, we see the image of God in that person. Which relates to the "soul mate" concept you wrote about earlier. I'm still not sure if I believe in that in the sense some novelists (e.g., Christine Feehan) use it. I believe that God has an ideal plan for each of our lives, which includes the ideal mate (if we are in fact intended to be mated, rather than live a single life). However, if our free will causes us to deviate from the ideal path, Providence will direct us toward an alternative life in which we can also be happy, if we seek divine guidance toward that end.

    "Soul mate" in the sense that we love the person's inner self, not his/her outward appearance? There's a cute country song currently popular in which the man says it won't matter if his wife's brown hair turns gray, because "I'm not in love with your hair."