Friday 13 January 2012

Love is Not All

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

                                                            - Edna St. Vincent Millay

This is my favourite poem. It addresses something that is very important to me; it sets forth an idea of Real Love™ It's not the ridiculous hearts and flowers of impossible expectation, but the kind of love that lasts, grows, strengthens. The kind of love that you don't know you want, or know that you should expect, until you have it. It's flawed, sometimes angry, sometimes confusing, sometimes it is the most tender feeling you will ever know, and it is able to grow because of the very flaws that would make many turn their backs on it.

Love is a funny thing. We all want it (or mostly all) and yet it seems so elusive and delicate that our clammy hands can never quite get hold of it - not without breaking it anyway. To many, it's a dream, a hope, and it often ends in disaster and heartbreak.

Here's my theory. Something smooth and perfect has the tendency to be brittle. Something flawed is often hardier. Love works when you understand that the person you love is not perfect and never will be - and that you yourself are a thing of imperfection should not be ignored. Love is the deal you make, the point where you decide "you know what? I don't care if you X, Y, or Z, I still want to be with you, even though that X,Y or bloody Z keeps coming around like a scheduled train. I can live with it. I have to live with it, otherwise it would mean being without you and that just doesn't sit well with me. Sometimes I do want to cave your skull in with my shoe, but those times pass and when they're gone I remember all the reasons why your skull is beautiful just the way it is. When those jolly old chips are down, I might fight to save myself, I might tread on you to get to the surface or sell you out to make sure I'm okay. It could happen, I'm not perfect. Neither are you. But I do not think I would."

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