To love. To be in love. To be loved. To have loved.
What does it all mean?
Are you aware that the Greeks have multiple words for love? Eros, Phila, Agape, Storge, Mania, Ludus, Pragma, Philautia.
Yet we’ve wrapped many of these into our single term. Curious and yet challenging because there is so much to unpack and explore. A magnitude hidden behind a single word. So I have challenged myself to set forth on this journey not knowing where it might lead.
I remember reading an essay some years ago, I think by Aldous Huxley, wherein he suggested that love, real love, could only be possessed by the rich. Why? Because he summised that only they have the luxury of time, time that is necessary to bring into being and grow love. In part I will agree. Love demands time, but as to whether it is only the wealthy who can give the necessary time, I think not. Love is grown and is not born fully formed, needs work and exercise, needs dedication to reach towards its potential.
At the very outset of this exploration it would be prudent to say that if there ever is such a thing as “love at first sight” then it is a naive and tentative thing, weak, awkward and every moment in danger of failing. Often infatuation or desire, these two impostors, will disguise themselves, striving to appear more than they are whilst claiming honorable intent.
In this, the first of several letters, please don’t get me wrong. I would not wish you to think me a cynic. I unreservedly believe in love. I just don’t think that thing that is commonly proclaimed as love is the real deal. It just doesn’t do what it says on the tin. I will be bold enough to go further and suggest that love, true love, is not a quality common to modern society. Rather many things are disguised as love because so many crave love, to be loved, to be able to give love, to in love, for we know deep down that this is something that needs fulfilling if we are to ever feel whole.
As you know I love mountains. So let the mountain become our metaphor for love. With this first letter we find ourselves standing at a distance, but at the same time realizing the immensity of the task ahead if we are to achieve our goal.
If it was Huxley who suggested love was only for those with excess hours to fill maybe he was onto something. But for now let me leave you with a quote from another that serves well as we take in the mountain.
To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far on into life, is — solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves.Rainer Maria Rilke‘s Letters to a Young Poet
Love will return in our next letter.
Yours, hoping to get “all loved up”,