Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Lover? Not I...

I never will be one. I don't quite understand the sinews of a lover. As a matter of fact, I understand nothing of a lover. Why a person loves is beyond me. Why a person stays in love, is something I raise my eyebrow to, while others raise a toast. Why a person falls out of love baffles me more so. Let me look at love as I get to see it in this world (other-worldly love is a moot point). Does it cause even a ripple if I tell you that I was stupidly involved in the composition of an essay going with the title "What is love?" at a ridiculous age of 17? I hope I have grown out of my silliness.

Love, a decision:
Psychiatrists, psychologists, biologists and other-ists believe that love is this little state of confusion which precedes another little state where a man and woman wish to mate. Technically, one wouldn't require love for that. A million men might want to "mate" with Carmen Electra without loving her (and the same might be for her). If mating = "mate"+procreate then we have a possible case ... which just fell off. Sorry! No case.
Love, to me, is a decision. One has a (sub)conscious checklist of what one seeks in a partner (of any sex). It is unlikely that a woman who has "a decent man" on her list would fall in love with a foul mouthing, belching brute (unless if she had not put in enough thought into the need for that want). Would a man be attracted towards a confident and perhaps domineering woman if he would like a nice obedient young girl for his mate?

For centuries, Asians have been married off in the "arranged" marriage and have "loved" their spouse till one of them died (post-death, love seems irrelevant). It was purely a decision to "love" their spouse upon realising that they were getting married. Life in Asia has thrived and well for long to warrant a "correctness" of lifestyle or at least several facets of the same. I wonder how else can the correctness of a lifestyle be ascertained. A destructive or decaying lifestyle would eventually lead to the annihilation of the lifestyle and/or of the adopters. So given that such a lifestyle has worked and kept the Asian community thriving and well, love seems to have nearly always been a decision, whether post-marriage or whether as a checklist.
Love, in most cases, has succeeded a phase of being attracted to the other person. The reasons for being attracted are peculiar and quite characteristic of the individual mind. There are physical reasons, psychological reasons, financial reasons and others which influence a person's "falling in love" act. Though people hate going into it, every person I have met (and tormented) have eventually been able to go down to the nuts and bolts of why they fell in love with a person. One friend of mine said that she would definitely not love a womaniser (which was one of her no-no's) but if the the guy she fell in love with turned out to be a womaniser, she would accept it!! Isn't all accepting a decision too? QED :-)
Now there is that love which people say happens at first sight. That usually tends to be physical. Let us assume that it is not so. What attracted you to this person? Brains? But it is first sight! Depth? First sight! Ok ok ok. Define first sight. The first 10 hours of time spent with a person? First 10 minutes? Think about it. It might sound silly to waste time being so pedantic, but I believe it is vital to understand the working of our mind and whatever we wish to call our heart. Isn't it always something tangible? If it is not so, and this love is spiritual or "just there" then I would wonder about why that love, soon transforms into the typical 2nd stage of this "Love" rigmarole?

2nd Stage of Love:
So you decide (oh! come on! humour me!) to love someone. Good for you. Congrats! Mazel Tov!
So you decide to stay in love too. Rats! I mean! Congrats (is congrats a condensation of congregation of rats?)!!
Every day you encounter... wait, I am speaking about the days after the initial euphoria... so, every day you encounter this person acting like, well, any other human being. This person has his own idiosyncrasies, littleness, humour, pain, whims, lows, anger and allergies. If you never tolerated hypocrisy, you wouldn't take it from him either. But you decide to stay in love. This person forgets your birthday and you are cross. He thinks you are making too big an issue of it, and you, in all your ladyness are quick to remind him that he wasn't like this when he was courting you (when will people learn!). He is quicker in enlisting all the reasons for the natural decay of memory (your nagging appears to be there as every odd numbered point and the end of his list has 5 "nags" in succession!). You want him to buy you jewellery and take you out to movies mostly because you think that is what lovers do for the other (I tend to think that ladies get to benefit more, materially).Things slowly transform into a "supposed to do" pattern and a lot of life is spent in the fear of being caught being not-lover-enough.
So every day you revisit this state of affairs and wonder why you believe that you are in love. Even if the problems don't surface (highly unlikely, because you are living in this world and reality requires facing problems and tackling them), you slowly notice that the excitement is waning. The level of cheer is cheerlessly familiar and more a habit now. Things have become more about two people running a life together and doing the necessary chores. No, I am not being cynical. It seems to be the most popular story on the road and exceptions don't maketh a story.
Then there are people who try to get the zing back into the relationship (which only re-enforces the point about love being a decision). I think that is a wise thing to do, given that you have already decided to love and then live that love. They try new things - define new phrases (quality time! ewwww!), get memberships in new clubs, go out more often, learn new languages together ("Oh! What is Mandarin for "I love you"? and Catalan?". Personally, I think they should ban that phrase and demand of couples to invent new ways of communicating it!), do shopping, cook meals, go out on picnics etc. etc. etc.
All this for mating? Naah! The -ists got it all wrong.
I think man inherently is not comfortable being alone. Some fella (or was it Jeanette Winterson) said that a person will go to any extent to keep himself from having to live in loneliness. I tend to agree with him (her). People enjoy a good life and would like to bring that in with the least overhead (not all of us can be sheiks with a harem!). What is a good life is a personal measure and hence, one's love also tends to be a subjective choice, and a choice it is; hence a decision.
Rarely does a "spiritual" or "just there" love escape the rigours of the 2nd stage. Its origin might have been mystical but its life on earth is surely made of houses, bank balances and food on the table. People still want exclusivity (god save me from that one) and complete allegiance whether right or wrong. Life becomes a dichotomy of "our love" and "the world". Life really isn't that. It functions as a mix of everything but I shall withold my opinion of the same.
So, whatever the start, love does roll into the mundane after a point (the toppling point). This is true about nearly everything on earth, but I shall cover that in another post. So love seems to be this lure into a stabilising monotony of living and managing life in its secure state (I have known people breaking up because the guy decided to go join a startup and brought in enormous amounts of instability or the woman taking on a high pressure job which paid but rarely left any time for the emotional security of the family. Replace man for woman and I think you might still have such problems).

So love is not something that is eternal - not the commonly found strains of this microbe! Hence, I am not interested in something that is ephemeral and quite a pain to manage.

Falling out of love:
And then people tire and break-up. Not all, but there seems to be a steady rise in the per capita breakup rate. People are either treating love casually or are more narrowly focused on a single entity (self, money, career, etc.). Either way, one can only break out of love with a decision, if they got into it as a decision. If you are going to give me an analogy of a disease occuring on its own but being eliminated by the decision of taking medicines, then I would ask you to choose between considering love a disease or a decision. People talk so much about unconditional love, but it seems to be a conditioned decision to be unconditional in love. It really seems to be some rose-tinged dream cloud when people talk about unconditional love while have ziltch clue about the conditioning they have gone through. People who unconditionally love cannot choose and cannot surely fall out of it. If you choose to unconditionally love one person, there is a set of reasons why you chose this person (and not another) and they are perhaps a superset of what this person satisified as your desirable conditions to be met. So where is the unconditionality!? And why is it that you want unconditional love? Because you are ready to give it? Firstly, I don't believe that is as simple as you think it is and secondly, why hold that as a condition for giving your unconditional love?

So what's the big deal?

If we are comfortable accepting love as a decision, we will be less in pain when wondering over any or all of the following questions:

  • Why did I fall in love?
  • How did I fall in love?
  • Why am I in this relationship?
  • Why am I not happy in here?
  • Why does my state of being depend so much on this one person?
  • Would I behave the same way if it were someone else doing what this person just did to me?
  • Why should I work on this relationship?
  • Why do I want to run away?
  • etc.
  • etc.

If you believe that your "love" is not a decision then what do you think it is? Why don't you love your neighbour? Or your colleague too? If this person you love, was a pauper on the streets who looked like Shrek, would you still love him? But would you have spoken to him in the first place? Is love for you being compassionate towards someone? Feeling sorry for them?

Then comes the major confusion between love and what to do with it. The most common strategy is to get married. What if the person is already married? What if the person cannot marry you? What if the person doesn't believe in marriage? What if the person doesn't want to marry you? Does your love fade? Does your love lose meaning? Is it still not a decision?

Think about it.

Or else, just enjoy the state of being in love! I for one cannot love as it is simply not in me to dedicate myself to one person completely. Firstly, the person has to be worth it all (and other than the Goddess, I know of perhaps just one other person who is worth it) and secondly, I haven't enjoyed the entire world yet to lock myself up with this person (so I am left only with the Goddess!). I always feel love is a state of inner transformation which doesn't require anything to be revealed or established (as it would anyway do so of its own sheer power). Such a powerful state of being is not for the common person to handle. Once in that state, the banal practices of the world do not hold glitter to me and expecting me to resort to such means ("Please say you love me", "You should pamper me", "I don't want you talking to any woman") is destroying that state (not a decision but an event whenafter I start looking for what was once there and often live in the memory of love, which is not love, please). In love there is a oneness that transcends all pettiness, but doesn't destroy the individuality of a person.

Every man, whether he has ever been in love or not, has an opinion about love. That is the major difference between love and differential calculus. Given this profound catchment of opinions, it is but natural to demand to know what is it that I think is love. I might (and that might never happen) write a post about what I think of love and what is it that I have come to realise as a true state of loving.



So love either doesn't exist for me, or exists in a form which you refuse to recognise! :-)

Look deep within to know that one cannot love

14 comments:

  1. You're confusing love-story with love. Love is all about the moment. Its not this tonnage of analysis that matters.

    When someone in a party a thousand miles away remembers you and writes you a note on tissue paper because its all thats available, thats love.

    When someone wakes up early in the morning for you and cooks you breakfast before you awake - thats love.

    When you see a stranger whose beauty overwhelms you, and you write a poem to him or her and completely miss whats going on in class, thats love.

    Even a statement of commitment, "I'll be with you forever", is valuable much more in the moment than in analysis - forever doesn't mean anything when a human life can vanish in the space of a heartbeat. Forever is only a poor word that we can come up with to describe something that feels so intensely real as opposed to so many other things in the world - and it has nothing to do with time.

    At its essence, love is creative feeling; a feeling that you have now, emanating from within - from you know not where. The moment you accept this, you stop thinking in terms of past or future. Who can know what feelings come when? Love is mystery, beyond understanding, love is delicate, and yes, love can be fleeting. None of that takes away from it an iota of beauty. A moment of love truly felt is priceless.

    And those who try and hold on to something or someone for some kind of "guarantee" of love are foolish - it's like trying to ask a beautiful sunset to freeze in time. Maybe for you the sunset will happen every day, at the same place (with the same person); maybe it won't and you'll have to find your sunsets elsewhere (another person, a hobby, social work wherever) but that doesn't have anything at all to do with the beauty of that sunset you're experiencing right now.

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  2. Howdy M,
    Wish you a happy new year! I am quite confused with your comment. At one point you say that it is a mystery. That exactly is my point: It is not a mystery as it stands today in the popular state! People love calling love a mystery because it avoids having to get to its guts. So there are people who like calling it a mystery and are treating it so while the actuality is different. Calling it a mystery, IMO, is also a way of escaping the rigour required to better understand the mechanics of love. It needn't have to be a mental thing, though intellectual massaging is sufficient to understand its present state.
    At another point you call a lot of elementary things as love. That sounds like Hallmark. I have a maid who cooks for me and does the same before I wake up. No love there! :-D
    I have written several notes to people (male and female) and called tonnes of people on a whim because something/someone reminded me of them, but I wouldn't call it love. I simply call it being friendly. Calling all that love leads to everything being considered love which is fine though it doesn't help me. I strongly believe that love is a distinct emotion and transformation of the self which usually happens only with one person (though I equally strongly believe in the non-exclusivity of love).

    Guarantees are silly, indeed, but there is a thin line between a guarantee and a sense of surety of what a person can do for their love.

    So I am not confused between love-story and love (although the post might not be that certain) and what I tried to bring out in the post is what people hold up as love and hence, why I can't be a lover on those terms. :-) Am I clearer, now? And it is this love that I consider a decision.

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  3. Happy new year to you too :)

    I don't believe there are any "mechanics of love" that you can get to the guts of. Wish you luck trying! I'm happy to just enjoy the joyful moments that come one's way once in a while.

    When I meant someone cooking breakfast, I didn't mean someone doing it because they're paid to do so :)

    As for what people hold up as love, there's no single person to whom love means or feels exactly the same way - even people who "love" each other have different ideas about it. So I see no point in computing a statistical average - it won't reflect any kind of truth thats interesting.

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  4. Dear M,
    There are mechanics for the love that you popularly get to see. I definitely was able to get to the guts by torturing my friends into baring all to me!! :-) This does not exclude enjoying the beautiful moments. It is like knowing all about how stars are formed and their lifecycle and not losing the beauty of a starlit night! I don't!
    A statistical average is not being computed. I am presenting the current state of affairs without going into the nitty-gritty of what each person feels. Those are specifics which I am not totally interested in. But nearly all the people I have met and known have ideas of "unconditional", "exclusive" etc. There are several common traits that fill the call for love. It is not very difficult to recognise them. So the intention is not to employ these traits and make an interesting truth of them but to use them to substantiate and fortify the observation which I am presenting as a truth (that love is a decision).

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  5. Parvati4:36 PM

    Love is the core of our fine spiritual self, is the energy of our dynamic communion with the Divine, Love that is as divine an experience as God Himself, is His Angel in His stead, tiding us over in our crusty life on Earth; it is an ocean that is an ether omnipresent rushing into someone if only he/she is open to it - yes, it can be between individuals, between men and animals, a face can awaken in us an overwhelming experience of eternity. That we may not sustain it does not make it any less valuable.

    Love is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient - if we but know it, if we but know how to be empty enough to accomodate its enormity, all of us will be eternal lovers, eternal beloveds, eternally in love. And it may easily be exclusively with one person, if we find our match in one.

    It is a decision made, but by our spiritual destiny, not by our superficialities of body mind and life, though these are great instruments to manifest the spiritual in matter, manifest love in the glorious details of life.

    # Your impeccable MENTAL logic, howsoever iron-clamped, is ignorant in that you constantly seem to only say neti, neti without knowing that 'This too is That'.

    All the not-loves you describe carry in them that spiritual seed of Love and can always be lived simply, beautifully and very very happily.

    ## It is time you actually experienced all the truths of True Love, know what is its Divine Purpose on Earth, what its texture, beauty, pain (?) are...

    Write a post thereafter; - THAT would be enlightening and transforming; this post is a lot of words saying only one thing - "All this isn't That"; and, there, I do agree with you.

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  6. how how how do u manage to weave words so easily about anything and everything? :)
    my inimitable writer-friend, hope things are great at your end. we must catch up & swap stories sometime...

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  7. Dear P,
    Why are you so anti-my-logic (and I keep believing that I am not a logician)? :-) The relationship with the Divine is borne on Love, but that isn't what I am talking about nor am I denouncing that I am a Lover in that sense!
    Love would be exclusive to one if we find our match in one and only one.
    The love I talk of is a decision made not by our spiritual destiny (probably plain ol' destiny) but by our mind and physical needs. I know so many people who are so eager to find someone to love and are ready to cling on to the first find.
    My post is essentially to say that this isn't That so I wonder why you were expecting something different! :-)

    Dearest M,
    Where on earth have you been? No contact whatsoever. You probably need to check your inbox. At my end things are (or not) as fine as they were any year ago. Sure we'll meet over a cuppa... Where are you nowadays?

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  8. Parvati10:22 PM

    # I am anti your logic because it refuses to acknowledge the possibility of a simple actual love between 2 human beings, despite their frailty as human beings, even despite the equivocal and deplorable shortlived nature of the said emotions. You assume with no let up, with your point by point analysis, that human beings can be human beings and 'love' sincerely, well, and move on if things fail anyway. All that people do in the name of love gets a depressing connotation the way you have described it in a cold manner, with no understanding that when you choose someone to be your partner you may sincerely like and love that person and do all from flowers to smses with involvement and with no vested interest. Your cynicism is lethal. Take a chill pill, as the modern youth says. It is ok, people are happy with the lightness of their relationships, and when they break are maybe deeply hurt and sad, but maybe move on to the next person - life is stronger in its demands than love. All of us know that, I am sure you do too...

    Your logic leads to a complete lack of understanding of their existing soft emotions between a man and a woman, despite all the flaws of their human nature. A coldness is revealed that is like a bright silver rapier among laughing children - irrelevant and scary.

    # I am not speaking about the relationship WITH the Divine in my previous comment - I am speaking about the fact that Love in its purity and truth, is a power of the Divine Himself. Whereas you speak in your post about what love isn't/shouldn't be, I was just mentioning what Love could be albeit between two human beings...

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  9. Dear P,
    Ouch! You really write well (at least in the comments section! ;-). I liked the silver rapier thingy. I don't see any sincere love around me, Parvatiji, and that is not being cynical. I see people trading in a sense of love. I see people being quite calculative (consciously or otherwise) in the name of love. I see people under psychological pressure to have someone they love. I see people lack basic human decency if their love is not reciprocated. There are few people in a brief phase of "loveliness" and for them and for people observing them love appears to be nice and sweet and all those rosy stuff. I think you are also caught in the same breath.
    Love all around is a pure calculation for one's betterment and/or entertainment. Point is you are making the reality of human pettiness as a big noble quality. People refuse to accept the limitedness and narrowness of their soul and you are asking me to appreciate it? Not expected of a wise soul like yourself! :-)
    But whether I appreciate it or not, all I am saying in this post is that I am unable to be a lover on these terms! So we both get to win: you for the entire world and me for myself (which is quite a world in itself!! ;-)

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  10. Parvati9:12 AM

    I am not saying that all should lie to themselves and pretend limitedness in love or life to be a noble quality. My point made especially to YOU is that despite all the pettiness and businesslike attitude that all have towards all relationships, there is ALWAYS too simultaneously at least a small nugget of purity, simplicity, genuine love, a selfless giving of oneself to that love one feels. Just because the thorns are there you miss the beautiful rose (sorry about this platitude, but platitudes are truths too...so-).

    # Again, let's see what you mean by love, what loving a human being means to you, who do you choose to love or whom do you helplessly love etc etc, in your some future post. Because to keep on defining yourself as a non-event and a no-person gets to be boring to the reader, who would like to have a positive existence in that person - 'Such a person am I. This is me etc etc.' Not always, 'Iam not this, I am not that.' You sound like people who reject all career options saying this has this demerit in it, that has that disadvantage, but fail to know what they are, what makes them be them, what they want to do etc...

    What are you, besides all that you claim you are not? - now THAT would be more worthwhile an exercise for your own enrichment
    :-D, than this present post here, and, definitely a greater source of entertainment to us readers!

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  11. Dear P,
    Am I talking about the small nugget cases? No. So why bother about them in this post? I am merely stating why I can't be a lover in the popular sense. In a huge bed of thorns a rose is an anomaly or a beauty or actually pointless to one who is saying he is unable to be a thorn!
    What I am, is not very interesting in this blog-space. :-)
    It is vital to understand what something isn't while/before understanding what it is. This is an approach to understanding a subject which I fancy. So a little patience would help! :-)

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  12. Parvati7:42 PM

    # When you are speaking about a landscape to write it off as a desert space when there are redeeming oases there, is not looking at the whole picture. In every love relationship there is intrinsically that redeeming selflessness, the connect to the other person that transforms, even if only a little. We cannot ignore that though we want only the roses.

    # :-D. I do realise that YOU are not very interesting in this blog-space - but you seem to have thought that you were, when you wrote this post, and accorded it the title, "Lover? Not I...". It is quite autobiographical, describing all that you are not as a lover, and begged the demand for a next post aptly titled, "Lover? Definitely Iam..." or some such head...

    # I don't agree with that theory, that we need to know what something isn't before we know what it is, because when we know what it is, automatically all the rest, it ceases to be, surely? Anyway, it is a way of looking at things...

    # Patience is not my forte, but the latest post is worth all the patience it may have entailed. Good work, Eroteme. Write on!

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  13. Some thoughts - When you have a special needs child who cannot give anything back to you and you still care for it, that is love.
    Hence true love is caring for something or someone that can never ever give back. But love in itself is giving back. For in giving, in that instant we are receiving. Giving loads of money anonymously for charity is love for the people.
    the very art of loving is giving and receiving - all in one.

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  14. E,

    Been visiting blogs after a long time. I honestly haven't read your post completely. Long BLOG posts often put me off, so I might not read it completely ever! ;-)

    But, a thought that came to me today. There is this truth - the spiritual unity that we all seek (or at least pretend to). There are Godesses, philosophies and states of bliss. Then there is science, logic, theories and proof. They all lead to (or pretend to lead to) truth. And then there is love.

    Why seek, know, decipher and understand, when there is the easy option of falling in love...and going mad? Its simple isn't it - when you do fall in love (and not choose/decide to love - a phrase I gleaned from your post), logic goes for a long lunch and tradition is locked in the attic. That's two major hurdles to happiness out of the way.

    And when there is heartbreak, or separation, it only gets better. Poetry, images and music flow in and out of the bleeding heart like the very blood itself.

    In fact, I now totally believe that is the best way to lead a life - either fall in love, or suffer a broken heart.

    I would rather be a true lover, than a lover of truth. :-)

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