Today being Valentine’s day, I am led to think of an old friend and how he had once begun a paper for his sophomore Philosophy course: “I believe, when discussing love, it is important to consider Haddaway’s age old question: ‘what is love?'”
Not only was that possibly the finest way to begin a college paper, I think it is much more astute that the silliness would suggest, or rather, it is exactly that silliness which love needs to endure. Love is hard; I don’t believe people would disagree, and if so, I don’t care. It doesn’t arrive in the same easy sway of cinema, where words have poignancy and direction, or even the face to deliver them to. Ah, but when that person is found, and fortune finds that the feelings are mutual, the real test begins.
Compromises and misunderstandings, and the thought of a life with, or without, the other flit in the mind and make tomorrow an endless wrestle with today’s choices. Love will make you sad, and in the same blink will cause you to believe that the world spins just for you. I believe on a general, emotional level love is about polarization, to test the limits of the human heart in what it can take, and what it can stand. All of the happiness that comes with, or at least what one recognizes love by, is only when two people meet who by fate or fortune know to what lengths a heart can be pushed. Everything else is just a slide up and down this scale.
But, what more do we want? Fulfillment? Well, what is the perpetual balancing act to keep love alive but work, and at something you love and whom you love? Is that not fulfillment in its finest? To obtain something beautiful is only worthwhile when received through hard work.
However, now that falls into sentimentality, which has little to do with love. Sentimentality aides only the movie script ending, and true love does not spin in the same way. A simple, misunderstood word can tear everything apart, and embarrassment can prompt an unspoken apology. Love is a funny thing in that sense; it is full of unexpected happiness, long nights of sleepless conversations only to end up sleeping alone the following night. Love is convincing yourself, and the other that this has to work; it is knowing that someone has to change; it is without words, and without sight; it is and it isn’t. Real love makes about as much sense as that last phrase.
The fact is I would not want Love to be any other way. To know pain, and to know hard work is to fully understand beauty because without sadness and misery there would be no happiness to pair it to. Mankind worries too much about what is wrong in the world, and what is wrong without another, rather than looking to what is right. Love is no different, because it is much easier to hate, because with hate there is a surge of emotion that can be ignored when that which spurs on such a feeling is out of sight or discussion; but love, oh well, that is a roaming beast which never finds sleep in the heart or soul, it moves without ceasing and carries on night and day, ignoring that we are fallible creatures and preserving this sort of feeling is nearly beyond our scope; nearly.
So, in the dire moments with those you love, when all feels hopeless, know that the heavenly feelings of yesterday will be resurrected, and then some, tomorrow; be it with this person, or with another, happiness will come because it won’t be what you feel at present. It is the work, the effort, and the sacrifice to preserve that which is important that straightens out this balancing act.
And, it is exactly this that leads me to believe Lolita, by Valdimir Nabokov is the finest love story created. The novel portrays the beauty and ugliness, and the manipulation and capitulation, the subtleties and obviousness of love. It’s all there, written beautifully is the human comedy, dancing that little dance we do when someone strikes us in a certain way, and to what lengths we will go to feel that lightening strike once more.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, I suggest one picks a copy of Lolita up to see the grotesque nature of love, and how beauty builds out of that. Remember, Haddaway asks, “What is Love?” while Nabokov suggests that we, “…hasten to alienate the very fates we intend to woo,” so all you can do is laugh because one way you’re always going to be asking great unanswerable questions, or sticking your foot in your mouth. So, just laugh and remember what it was that made you love this person in the first place.