Thursday, January 26, 2012

Love is Not a Choice

Have you ever been in love? Did you fall into it? Or did you choose? Did you go out and scope out the landscape to decide who would be the best person to love? Did you ask for references? A relationship resume? Or was it more like Some Enchanted Evening: you saw a stranger across a crowded room and somehow you knew, you knew even then, that you would see her/him again and again.

I never once chose to fall in love. I sometimes fought against it with every fiber of my being. The last time, I had to walk away from it and it took about all I had. I have soared beyond the moon and I have faced the gates of hell. All for love. Sometimes even with the same person. I look around and wonder who chooses to fall in love. Who would? Sure, that first blush is grand and glorious - there is no drug like it, there is no greater high, no bigger rush, no finer thing in all creation. But then, after that, there's the whole working out which side of the bed, who cleans the bathroom, who pays this bill, who gives up what furniture.

Divorce is the most loathsome area of practice in the courts. Divorce clients are never happy because love gone bad is every bit as passionate as first love, but turned ugly. Divorce clients are never happy because courts never issue orders allowing you to mow down your ex with a tank. Divorce only highlights the reality that people never choose to fall in love. Nobody would choose to fall in love with a man who would beat her unmercifully or a woman who would run through his money, kidnap the children and sell them to strangers for sex. Yet, day in and day out, people do fall in love with just those sorts of people.

Newt was married, twice, when he started extra-marital affairs. Did he choose to do that? Did he consciously wake up one day and say "You know, enough of this. I want to lose my mind over some dumb blonde and screw my wife out of all she has left?" Mind you, I'm not so sure he didn't. But, more plausibly, did Mariane wake up one day and say "Newt! Yep, he's married, he's a dog, but I think I'll totally ruin my life and throw it away on total shithead, wtf!"  No way. Something hit her like an arrow out of the blue and she was a total goner.

We can blame it on Cupid, if we like. Frankly, that's the most plausible explanation I've heard so far. Some little bozo with wings shooting arrows nails you. That's how it feels - coming and going. Love is all well and good, but sooner or later, inevitably and always, love HURTS and it hurts BAD. No sane person would choose that. It's why most people DON'T become heroin addicts. No matter how good the high, it is not worth the low.  Luckily, heroin doesn't catch your eye across the crowded room, rush over and inject itself into your veins. Love does.


  1. Great writing and great questions.
    As for love, it is a word with too few versions in our language. The Greeks did better with three or four different words but maybe that was too few to grasp the range of what love can be. When I look back at my initial forays into investing this emotion into another person, love, or what I called love then, from this distance seems to have been like sirens calling me from the rocks to crash myself unwillingly along with every bit of ship that protected me from the elements; for what I didn't know and how many times was uncertain. Later in life, love comes in a different flavor entirely than I remember with a completely different set of parameters. It is as dependent upon free will as a left or right turn and at the same time deeper and more comfortable than any of the extremes I remember from a long time ago. And even then I don't want to define it too closely by my own experience.
    I want everyone to be of the mind that what they call love can either cause them to run straight into walls for no particular reason or to sit with assured comfort of a stone in a field.
    Love is one of those elusive terms like zen or happiness. It is hard to pin down to one experience and at the same time leaves anyone feeling at a loss for definition. It is almost too intangible to be so powerful that we would write songs about it, blame it and thank it, point to and preach about it and disagree about its properties. Love is why we invented metaphors so we can try to have a conversation about it hopefully ignite it although this is not what ignites it. It is God when we choose to remove the face we have given to God. When our minds are turned only in the direction of hopelessness it is what we deny exists.
    It dresses up like a noun with a mind of its own but really it is a verb that cannot exists without each one of us.
    Well, that's my honest experience with the idea of love.