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Reflections On Love

February 12, 2010

The other day I wrote about some of my more recent thoughts on love, but today I’d like to lay out a basic outline as to what I think “love” is, and the different forms of it.

Even as recent as two years ago, I never could have written this.  I think I’ve made some progress, but still, I don’t feel I understand love well.  Even so, if I was out for a long walk with a lovely intellectual woman, and she asked me, “So, what do you think love is?”  the conversation may go something like this:

Love is such a broad concept which includes so many things, yet I do think there’s at least a few principles behind every act of love.   But I don’t even think love is confined to actions.  Love really permeates our entire being, and without it I don’t think you’re even alive.

Love is the reason you wake up every morning.  What do you look forward to?  What do you work hard for?  When you put up with things which bother you, where do you find the strength to endure?  What’s important to you?

Love is your passions.  Your interests.  Your commitments.  Your dreams.  Your ambitions.

Yet, love is also oftentimes the reason behind our sadness and sorrow.

Morality cannot exist without love.  Society and all of our social institutions depend on love to operate.

I mean, really, there’s so many aspects to love.  To talk about love is to talk about all of society, and every aspect of life.  There’s no way I can talk about all that.  But instead, let’s dive right in and just start giving examples, beginning with with the most obvious example.

A man looks his lover in the eyes and tells her, “I love you.”  Does that have any set meaning, considering every couple is different in so many ways?  I really am not sure, but there may be at least a few things which this means.

I think the primary meaning behind it, which can pretty much always be assumed, is he feels his personal happiness depends on the girl he’s speaking to.  If the love is unrequited, he feels he’s lost something important.  If it’s not important to him, and he feels he loses little upon losing her, then I wouldn’t consider it love.  It’s some other sort of thing, but not really what I would consider love.

I would also say it has another meaning.  I think love always singles out someone or something in particular and makes it emotionally significant.  The level of this emotional significance can vary, but this always seems to exist in at least some degree — the more significant the object, the greater the love which is present.

This process of finding a precious gem in life, and wanting to possess it, is a very common meaning of love.  It may well be behind every meaning of the word love.  It’s also the fuel behind jealousy, and fear, if the couple starts to experience trust issues.  It also leads to disappointments and frustrations, when no matter what you do, you’re never able to get your hands on it.

Someone in love can’t bear to see their beloved with someone else.  They don’t want to hear about it.  Don’t want to see it.  It’s painful.

Lovers in every drama, poem, story, and in life, always creates world all to themselves.  It’s a special sort of place, unlike any other, where only they can go and be together.  This place exists outside of space and time, and is eternal.

As for that world they enter, I can’t say anything more.  I’ve never experienced it myself.

But I don’t know if I can really say if love always starts out by a singling out process.  At least, not on both sides. When I carefully started analyzing it over the past year and a half or so, I began to see other ways it could happen.

I thought about couples where say, the man isn’t very interested in the woman, but she keeps trying very hard, day after day.  Years later the guy eventually starts to fall for her.  Somehow her perseverance paid off.   She was able, through hard work, to get him to return her feelings.

In those situations, from what I’ve seen anyway, the woman slowly integrates herself into the man’s life.  Eventually he begins to depend on her, and the thought of life without her becomes difficult.  They slowly fuse together, and then become a couple.  Slowly, over time, he began to see how wonderful she’s always been, though it required a lot of changes in him first, in order to realize it.

In other words, the love, appreciation, and mutual admiration of one another took place at different times and at a difference pace.  In the first case, it was more immediately apparent, whereas in the second case, it built up slowly over time.

But when does a man know what’s good for him?  What he really loves and what will make him happy?  I don’t think we ever really know.  Life’s too complicated.  Sometimes good things have to be beaten into our thick skulls with a stake and mallet.  You find a good woman, who beats sense into you slowly over the years.  Eventually the heart cracks open and you have your epiphany.

But either way, in both cases, love came about when we realized something precious and irreplaceable in the other person.

I also think that the lover and the beloved object, through the love process, come to fuse into a unity of some sort.  People become what they love.  I don’t think you can love something or someone without changing on the inside and the outside.

It’s like quantum mechanics.  You can’t interact in this world without changing the world around you at the same time.  When you love, you, the one you love, and everything around you changes.

You talk differently.  You act differently.  You dress differently.  You’re a new person, changed as you fused with the object you love, or at least, came to love.

But there’s also a moral aspect to the love process.  Loyalty.  Compassion.  Putting up with each other’s quirks.   There’s more to it than just feeling good at that moment, and then up and leaving the second things get a little rough.

Morality comes into play because men love more than one thing.  You may well love more than one girl, even while you’re in a relationship.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this either.  Sometimes it can’t be helped.  But morals is a world of pick and choose.

There are certain morals and standards I live by.  I just do.  Attempting to justify them would require writing long books.  But I believe most of them are time tested principles, and happiness in humans depends on how well we follow them.

For example, you can live a life trying for quick easy money, date sleazy women with no principles, and only have interest in people for what you can get out of them.  You can live that way, and others can as well.  It creates a terrible world.  But nobody will stop you, or me, from choosing that world.

People who live like that end up with little.  You may get really lucky and get rich in some easy scheme which demands very little from you.  Who knows.  Maybe you’ll scratch off the big jackpot when you spend your entire paycheck at the gas-station on lotto tickets.  But the odds are against you, no matter how many tickets you buy.

Sometimes you get lucky and something absolutely amazing is handed to you.  It may be a business opportunity.  Your dream girl.  A captain of industry agrees to take you under his wing as his protege.  But with everything, your only security in keeping that is based on what you put into it, how hard you work at it, and how appreciative you are of it.  If something great is handed to you on a silver platter, and it required nothing of you to acquire it, there’s a good chance it will one day be taken away from you, just as quickly as it was given.  That is, unless you secure your position, and add enough value to the person handing you the platter to compensate.  Or at least, are thankful and treat that person well.  But if all you do is take, that platter will be ripped from you.

If you’re a talented 15 year old kid, and giant record company comes up to you and says, “We want to make you into a Disney star!”  That’s a platter handed to you.  But if you’re bratty, ungrateful, and let fame go to your head, failing to realize the true situation, they’ll boot you just as quickly as they made you a star.  They don’t need that.  There’s thousands of hunky young boys ready to dance and lip-sync for millions of dollars.

I don’t think both parties in a relationship have to be completely on the same level in every area of life, but they must appreciate one another and at least be able to see each other’s good points.  But this gets harder the more different your lifestyle, and the farther apart in life you may be.  When you’re not on the same level, it’s like winning a ticket to meet Warren Buffet, who is probably the world’s greatest investor, yet you don’t know anything about economics, money, finance, or investing.   True, if you could only understand his words, his advice could make you rich.  But you’re so far from his level, you can’t even grasp his value.  He’s just an old man in big thick glasses, talking about interest rates, the Fed, housing markets, loanable funds, and other things you don’t quite grasp. You leave and get nothing out of the entire meeting.

Life really is like a garden.  Every decision is a seed.  If you live life carefree, and just throw random seeds into the ground, you’ll reap ugly weeds.  Whatever flower seeds you did plant will not come up, as they were choked out by the weeds.

When I look at my grandparents, before my grandma died, I saw something that few see in their entire lifetime.  Grandpa treated that woman so well, I sometimes couldn’t believe it.  But do you know what that is?  Maybe you need to hear their story.

Their entire lives, grandma always took care of grandpa.  He worked and brought in the money, and she took care of the home, the children, washing clothes, cooking, and everything like that.  Even during times finances were really tight, she worked too.

Over the 50+ years they were married, they had weathered serious storms, and they never gave up on each other, even in the rough times.

With young people, and early couples, their garden is a little flower bed.  It’s pretty.  There’s roses, and daffodils, and bees buzzing about.  It’s quaint, and beautiful.  It’s very nice.

But a storm can wipe out a flower bed.  It’ll have to be replanted to bring it back.  But then again, flowers grow pretty quickly too.  They bloom for a short season, then they begin to age, decay, and die.

Now my grandparents had flower beds.  They were always doing nice little things for one another, which are what the flowers really are.  There was color, warmth, and sunshine in their relationship.  They also took time to weed the garden, which is what apologizing and accepting each other’s faults really is. But there was something else too.  They planted oak trees in their garden, and those grow slow.  Real slow.  Then again, they don’t die.  They just keep growing, bigger and bigger.  And when the storms blow, it may blow off a few leaves, and knock down some of the old limbs, but that tree isn’t going anywhere.

Every time grandma cooked for grandpa, and washed his clothes, and took good care of him, she was watering that tree.  In the early days, she could’ve killed that tree by harsh words, arguments, and general indifference to things that mattered.  But eventually that tree grew to such an extent, minor things could never bring it down.  And even when she grew old and feeble… so feeble she could barely even move out of her chair, grandpa never left her side.

And even now that grandma is gone, a lot of that tree is still there.  Grandma didn’t die alone in some bed, nobody caring that she left.  Our whole family was there.  She took good care of all of us.  We’re the limbs.  Grandma and grandpa, the trunk.  They built our family.  The hospital rooms were packed, with family.  Literally hundreds of people came.  Not just to her funeral, but to say goodbye during her last moments, even if she wasn’t conscious.

Oak trees are moral principles.  They’re ideas of being in it for the long haul.  But the amazing thing about trees is they eventually take care of themselves.  You have to baby them through their first years, but eventually they carry their own and provide a lot more strength and support compared to what you had to put into it.

If you live a flighty lifestyle, only thinking of yourself, and planting cheap little flower beds all over the place, that’s fine.  But you won’t reap anything significant during your lifetime.

Everything follows this principle.  Your education.  Your job.  Your business.  Your country.  Your world.  You put nothing in, you rarely get anything back out.

But I also have to tell you that the world doesn’t reward hard work.  And you can’t belittle this point.  There’s more than just putting hard work in.  A lot more.  If you toil all day long, and plant things in the wrong soil, at the wrong time of year, it doesn’t grow, matter how many times you do so, or how bad you wanted it to work.  The world won’t care.  Nothing will grow.

Certain things grow under certain conditions, and knowing those conditions is key.  That’s the true meaning of the Kung Fu lesson of snatching the pebble from the master’s hand.  Until you’re good enough to snatch the pebble, you’re not allowed to leave.  The lesson?  You have to keep going around the same trials in life until you pass.  Life doesn’t let you fail, then move on to things you’re not ready for.

It’s like a woman trying to get closer to me, yet doesn’t know me.  She buys me a hot pink sweater, little cute hats, and a little designer nik-nak for my place.   I won’t mind receiving such things.  I’ll take them, smile, and say, “Thank you.”  But that won’t win you many points from me.

I’ll probably throw away the sweater.  Or I’ll take it out into the woods, place it on a cardboard cut-out of John Madden, and blow it to bits with my shotgun.  I may keep the cute little hat in a drawer somewhere, out of respect for the girl’s friendship.  As for the nik-nak, that also depends on how much space it takes up.   But seeds placed in the wrong soil simply die.

If you’re never succeeding in life, no matter what you try, you have to ask yourself what sort of seeds you’re planting.  If nothing’s growing, stop planting those seeds and try planting something else.

Gifts for me?  Buy me some tangerines.  Or make me a big fresh salad with Italian dressing and black olives.  Cook me up something nice.  Chocolate bars.  M&Ms.  Take me out for a pizza, or buy me one of the books I’ve been wanting.  I like good food, books, Harley Davidson t-shirts, neat science magazines, Final Fantasy video games… if you want to know more, just ask?

You’ll be amazed.  I’ll get the gift, and actually be excited to receive it.  The “thank you” will have a different tone to it.  I’ll take out one of the tangerines and eat it right there beside you.  The outer peeling will come right off.  I’ll then take out one little chunk, slowly take a bite, close my eyes… there’ll be a pause and then… “Oh my god!  Oh oh…. Oh ho ho it’s mmagggiicccc.  You knowwwwwww.   My mouth is having an orgasm.  These are so awesome!”

But it doesn’t matter how many “nice” things you do for me, if they’re not the right things.  It doesn’t matter how much you spent.  How hard you worked for the money.  If they’re not the right type of seeds for my soil, they won’t grow.  Ever.  Life’s great master is going to close his hand before you grab the pebble, and you’re not going to be allowed to leave the temple.   You exclaim to the master, “Master!  I do love my husband, I really do!  It’s him, not me!  He doesn’t appreciate my gifts!”  Then he looks back at you and says, “So you love your husband, but don’t even know the things he likes?  Go back, and try again.”

Thinking of this stuff, reminds me that my own love life is a weed bed.  All my efforts have gone elsewhere.   Though really, for the first time in my life, I’ve seriously considered putting work into it.  Maybe that’s because over the past two years I’ve studied it a lot more.  But what I can tell you about is business, making money, and your education.

There’s flighty business men everywhere.  Everywhere.  They don’t know what they’re doing.  They just run around from project to project, wasting everyone’s time.  They’re more akin to wrecking crews than real entrepreneurs.  Spending time with them is just wasting your life.   My early years doing business were nothing but dealing with them.  I wasted so many years, and work hours.

From those I’ve watched in relationships, the flighty ones end up lonely.  They reap a few flowers with every relationship, but that’s about it.  Eventually those same old flowers don’t give them the thrill it used to.  Going through the same routine with the new girlfriend gets boring.  You’ve told the same stories a million times, and now there’s no life in any of it.  Another face, same story.

There’s more to a relationship than that, but you never planted anything nice.  You never committed.  So, you’ve reaped nothing worthwhile.

Same goes with education.  Maybe sometimes you read things I write about on here, and wonder about them.  Like the recent entry on quantum electrodynamics, or when I write posts about the economy. I don’t write about things in their full scope.  I could talk indepth about Hayek and his theories, and his difference from John Maynard Keynes, but who would understand it but a few specialists?  I just write about basic stuff.  But when I’m here in my study, I read 1000 page textbooks, and work through all the problems.  I look through economic data, and compare theories.

I really would like to be able to talk with others about things in their full scope.  I rarely exchange discourse with people on that level.  I used to do that with Littlejohn with physics.  He worked for NASA and Lockheed Martin.  But recently he died.  He had a lot of health problems and died in his sleep back in December.

Sad really.  I miss him.  I had a lot of things I wanted to ask him.

There’s a lot more I’d like to write about regarding love, but this entry is long enough already.  It’ll have to wait for another time.  Just like I need to write further entries on Space and Geometry.  I think there were others I planned to write as well, but never did.  I’ll have to look.

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