Posted by: terrapraeta | December 8, 2009

Love and Understanding


As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I wanna know:
What’s so funny bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
What’s so funny bout peace love & understanding?

Elvis Costello, Peace, Love and Understanding

Dave’s latest article asks “Can We Choose Who(m) We Love.” He has always thought of love as a purely physical… ie chemical, hormonal, evolutionary response…. response. But in discussions he had yesterday, he discovered the possibility that there was a rational side to love. That, in part, love was about physical, financial and emotional security needs and whether a given individual was able to satisfy those needs. By the end of the article, I think he came to the same conclusion that I would. That these “choices” are no more conscious than the physical responses are, but that they are still very much a part of the total response.

However, I would add to that. Because we very much consciously choose whom to spend time with, whom to get to know, whom to allow to know us. The greatest love we ever experience may never come to pass simply because we decide, upon meeting someone, that we are not going to invite them into our lives. Likewise, we may fall in love with someone that doesn’t really make much sense, in one way or another, simply because they did become part of our lives for whatever reason.

I have thought about this quite a bit in recent months. When Kenny was in my life, I initially found him to be absolutely adorable – on a purely physical scale – but I would never have gotten to know him at all were it not for Eddie. But I did get to know him, over many months, and the more time I spent with him, the more I got to know who he is as a person, the more I came to care about him and, eventually, yes, even love him. The likelihood of that turning into a tangible relationship was always sketchy. The difference in our ages, the different places in life that we are at (far more significant than literal age), and the different needs we each have, all conspire to make the idea at least partly absurd. But emotionally, none of that made any difference whatsoever. He was there for me, absolutely, when I needed him most. End of story.

But how different it would have been if he had never been more than a pretty, talented boy that lived in the same town for some months.

I do disagree with Dave about one thing, though. He says that “…we love who we imagine someone to be, not who they really are (we can never really know who another person really is) .” I disagree. It can take a lifetime to really completely know another person. But it does not have to. Knowing another person is less about the time you spend with them than it is about the way you spend time with them. Do you listen to their stories with empathy or do you listen to their stories with projection? Or even more basic, do you share your stories with one another. Our stories are who we are… understanding that our stories are constantly being added to and thus, we are constantly changing as well. Do you accept another person as this ever-changing active being, or do you pigeonhole them at some distinct moment and try to keep them there forever? These are the keys to knowing another person.

And, as with everything else, do you always remember how little you know? Because it is in seeking to understand better, forever, or as long as the relationship lasts, that enables one to know another.

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Responses

  1. > Do you accept another person as this ever-changing active being,
    > or do you pigeonhole them at some distinct moment
    > and try to keep them there forever?

    This (the second part). Story of my life, both in the active and the passive role.

    > And, as with everything else, do you always
    > remember how little you know?

    And this too. The older I get, the more I understand how little I know people. But also, the less I need to make up an image of how I’d like them to be.


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