Pic of the day: Severely anonymized picture that's a lot more appropriate to the text than the one I posted for the first 5 minutes.
It need not be love
What is love? I have asked this question before, and the answer seems to change from year to year. As is good and proper, for we are not a thing, we are a process. As we wander from here to there, we see things from new sides. And like we rebuild and replace the cells of our body, we rebuild and replace our experiences, our opinions, our emotions.
Today my answer is: Love is voluntary sacrifice. Not just free from outside pressure, but free from inside pressure as well, from guilt and shame and even conscience. Yes, it stands clear before me now, the meaning of the old Christian dogma that "fear is not in love": Love and conscience are incompatible. They cannot both be active at the same time. When I do something out of guilt or shame or conscience, it is duty, not love. Not to put down on duty. The moon may be useless when the sun is high in the sky, but in those dark hours of deepest night you will be thankful to have its light to find your way.
What do I mean, love is sacrifice? Doesn't love feel good? Yes, it does. I'm not sure if it always does. Quite possibly. Still, the essence of love is giving. I don't mean that the sacrifice has to be painful. Some sacrifices are. What I mean is, I would not call it love if it just consists of getting. There has to be giving in it. Giving something of one's own or something of oneself. Certainly getting is not a hinder for love. Two people can love each other and be in a constant exchange of giving and receiving. But the expression of love is giving from a free heart. This is what binds all forms of love together, from the divine to the carnal: The wish to give something of oneself to another. And not something useless and leftover. Something valuable. That is love. Or so I see it today.
Today, for no other particular reason, I started to think about the friend I somewhat jokingly call "the Great Earth Mother", because she's a midwife and the Norwegian word for midwife translates as Earthmother. Readers of Jean M Auel's ice age novels (I don't expect you to admit it) will remember that the main deity there is the Great Earth Mother, a kind of supergoddess with a wiccan slant ... all acts of love and pleasure are her rites. She was supposed to also be the embodiment of femaleness. Ahem.
Now, my friend the GEM may not exactly live up to those standards. But she's rather good-looking. Actually, I'm looking at some of my photos of her and she's downright beautiful. (I'm pretty sure she hasn't even net access, and anyway she wouldn't happen to find this as long as I don't use her real name. She better not, or I'm in huge trouble.) She's not only looking great on photos, she also has a very attractive body language. And she's bright, witty, with a lot of interesting angles on the world she lives in. There was one problem, though, which severely hampered the friendship between us. She was way too sexy.
In all honesty, this was probably in large part due to my own permanent closing hour syndrome. It didn't take a lot to make me embarassed. Even so, there were not many girls 12 years younger than I who made my mouth go dry. It's not like I had trouble walking or anything - that I can remember - but I did feel very awkward around her. It just did not feel right. (And it wasn't, either.)
But during the last couple of years in particular, the hormones are starting to lose their iron grip on my body and mind. I'm not scared anymore. And when I've met this younger woman (when I've visited SuperWoman and her family, which she is, family) ... when I've met her, I've been struck by how comfortable she made me feel. How interesting she is, how charming and witty. How polite and sympathetic. Of course she has probably matured a lot too, not least in her career. But part of it is certainly that I'm finally able to see her as she is, without being overwhelmed by her womanliness. Without guilt or shame.
And no, I'm not in love with her. (Or anyone else.) Which is just as well, given the big age difference and the chilling effect I tend to have on women's romantic emotions. (The effect is hinted to be similar to that of a fairly large dead fish.) But at last now there's some hope that we can be friends, if things go the right way. And if she never finds out that I hardly dared to look at her from she was 18 to 27. She'd never think of me the same way again ... *shudder*
There is a point here. Really. I just lost it. It's in here somewhere. I know I brought it in. It's in the title line. "It need not be love". Yes. I mentioned for an e-friend that there are some friends (and this is one of them) who make me feel good just by letting me be with them. Just listening to them, seeing them in action, speaking with them, eating with them, playing games with them ... it makes the brain's reward center go off, like water when you're thirsty, like food when you're hungry. Dopamine flooding. It makes me sort of high. It feels good, and it keeps feeling good until I (or they) have to leave.
And since these friends suspiciously tend to be women (and not too ugly, but that's really not my fault!) people tend to say that I'm in love. But as you can now hopefully see, it need not be love. Or at least not that kind of love, the one you fall in.
And it's no sacrifice. No sacrifice at all... but that's a song for another day. If any.
Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.