A short explanation of the circumstance: I had just told a girl I loved her for the first time in my life, even though I knew she didn't feel the same way. I wanted her to hear the words anyway, because being loved is of the good, right? It was in person and so cataclysmic an event I couldn't even call up the memory five minutes later. Even today, I don't think I can bring my mind back to that exact moment, only those surrounding it. Everything is fine now, but I wanted you to know what part of me these words were coming from. I suppose I still agree with most of it, as long as you interpret it properly.
Another quick note: the receipt line (you'll see) was written about the first girl I fell in love with who didn't feel the same way.
And finally, as I said, this was written for a different audience, so don't feel bewildered for not getting the shout-outs at the end. I could edit, but when I plagiarize myself, I go all out.
Must I do this?
Must I discuss it on this day?
Sure, why not?
The thing about love is that it doesn't really fit into a box. It doesn't follow definite rules or have any sense or order. It's entirely selfish and never looks at the big picture. All it sees is two people.
In Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, Card posits the existence of philotes, invisible strands of matter through which communication was instantaneous. I like to think about philotic connections between people. That is, on a subatomic level, you can be physically connected to someone. How else would you know what someone else is thinking? Finish their sentences? Know instinctively what to do to make them happy? Love is merely the strengthening of that connection.
Love makes you appreciate someone's existence. Just knowing they're alive gives you a great, undefinable pleasure. The world may be falling apart, but at least someone you love still lives.
I'm not talking about just romantic love here, of course. You can love without any desire to engage in anything romantic. You can love with a desire to engage in sexual activity expressive of your love but without desire to engage in anything romantic.
To my knowledge, I have been in love twice, though I have and do love many people. You can love someone you have never met in person. You can love someone you do not see often. Love functions on a different plane, not bound by the mortal coil.
To love someone, you keep a little bit of them with you and carry it inside. To keep it safe.
Another operative word is "reach." I know I love someone, that I care about them that much, when my heart reaches for them when they are in trouble. When I run my fingers against the computer screen and curse my lack of ability to teleport. Due to that connection love forges, you share in their pain, you share in their joy.
Conversely, I know I don't love someone when I don't feel that invested in their well being. I am a generally nice person, and I will do nice things for people even if I don't love them. I will do them because I can. But love is a compelling force. It's not satisfied with "just enough." It wants the extra mile. It pushes for the extra mile-and-a-half. And by this definition, maybe I love more people than I think, because I often go out of my way for people for the sake of going out of my way, because why not? It could be a basic love of humanity, though I know for certain there are people I could not be said to love in any way. That is, I could not say it. And saying things is harder than it looks.
Knowing when you do not love is as enlightening as knowing when you do. It helps you form your scale, understand the way love works for you. How people affect you.
Love has gradations, and two people can connect on many levels. Sometimes not at the same level.
What I've come to realize, though, is that love is a vector with one direction. It's not necessary for it to be returned. That's not its purpose. It's like a harpoon. You latch onto the other person and you don't let go. If they fall, you catch them. If they pull on the rope, you ask what's wrong. It's for you.
The other person doesn't really have a choice. They can't pull out the harpoon; you'd just throw it back. It's like having a guardian angel, except human.
You see, you've got the rope. They didn't have any hand in it. Oh, it would be nice if they had a rope, and when you pulled, they pulled, and you'd get to each other a lot faster, but that's secondary. Or maybe their rope isn't as thick, and if you tried that, theirs would break.
I once wrote, "I gave her my heart, and she handed it back to me. I wonder, though, whether she kept the receipt." A nice little ending line, but love's not like that. It's a gift, and as such you can't return it. You're forced to keep it in the darkest recesses of yourself because it would be impolite to throw it away. Love is about giving, not receiving.
(I'm either handling this very well, or I'm in denial.)
I wonder when love first arose. If the first Cro-Magnons were able to feel an emotion like this, or did it evolve along with humanity. As humans became more aware of who they were and what the world was, it adapted to this new sense of self, tweaking its methods. The connections fused were more sophisticated. Yet, far less primal. I imagine Cro-Magnon love was much simpler. With less ability to communicate, a human had less to go on. Maybe it was more magical back then.
The body is just a package, by the way. Granted, systems of aesthetics draw people's eyes to different packages, like when you're shopping for action figures and you're attracted to the package with the bright and flashy colors. But what you're interested in is the action figure inside. This seems terribly like objectification, but I don't think that's exactly what I mean. What I mean is I don't believe in love at first sight. I believe in the potential for love at first sight. The body is more like shrinkwrap; it molds itself to what it's inside. On second thought, I'm letting this train of thought off the tracks before it derails itself.
Love is like a warm blanket you always have ready for someone, even if they don't have one for you.
It's caring. Caring a lot. Caring a whole lot.
I've missed some points, muddled others, and have not gotten across what I wanted to say, I don't think. I don't have a deep understanding of anything, and all I've said could be a lie. But think about love, and what it means to you, and then stop thinking and just feel.
Cro-Magnons loved with their hearts, not with their brains.
Love, you see, isn't about what you might think. It's about tire irons and cinnamon ice cream, remembered hands and giant fish, pineapples and circuses, rabbits and Pop Rocks.
To those I love, I love you.