Qu’est ce qu’Amour? Ce qui est le lecteur de la romance? I ask in the language of romance, “What is that love? What is the drive of romance?” I have only the space of a short blog post to ponder the nature of romance and romantic love on this Valentines Day. I don’t have any Earth-shattering revelations, only a few thoughts about a state of mind that can be both sweetly glorious and deeply tortuous at the same time.
We might view a romantic Hollywood movie and witness an idealized, poetic rendition of people in love. Maybe the chase is on and frustrated at every turn then culminates in the two living happily ever after, as in a romantic comedy. Perhaps you’re drawn to romantic tragedy, there are many of them to be found in the movie archives, too. When all is said and done, romantic love is deeper and more mysterious than film producers and actors can interpret and relate.
I know and savor the excitement and anticipation that floods over me during the beginnings of a new love affair. I feel empathy for people who are in love with falling in love. I can understand how so many of us can become addicted to it in the ways as some people become hooked on substances.
If our love affair lasts beyond the ecstatic beginnings, we discover a richer, deeper, more encompassing love than we could ever imagine. When we stop to contemplate that love, we acknowledge that it changes, grows, and adapts in ways we barely dare to imagine. If and when it ends with the departure or death of our partner, our fundamental natures are shaken apart to shambles. Perhaps we should be declared insane when love blooms and when it is taken away. Our minds become almost totally irrational.
When the physicist sets out to describe romantic love, she explains how it is a powerful neurological condition akin to hunger and thirst. The biologist says that lust is a temporary emotional condition triggered by the secretion of hormones. Romantic love is the product of an alphabet soup of chemicals like dopamine, norepinenphirine, oxytocin, pheromones, serotonin, and vasopressin. This is an accurate explanation, but it seems terribly clinical.
Politicians and religionists believe that romantic love can be controlled and regulated by law or scriptural interpretations. They trigger debate as to whether some types of romantic love should be considered legitimate. A legalistic, dogmatic, restrictive view of romantic love is advocated. Every person shall obey their laws or be subject to arrest or the fires of Hell. They belittle love when they do this.
Of course, there is no real way to cage romantic love. It can be frustrated and denied. However, romantic love won’t really die. I suspect that people who wish to regulate our intimate lives, have never truly experienced the deepest bonds of love that are stronger than death itself.
When you are in love with your partner, you deeply understand that honest, pure love cannot be bought or sold. There is no hardship that it cannot endure. Love is stronger than anything the politicians and religionists can invent.
Throughout the ages, philosophers have contemplated the nature of love. They have described agape love as a love of and for the Gods or the bond we feel with all of humanity. There is philia, the deep, non-sexual intimacy that is felt between family and friends. Pragma is the deep, ever maturing love between two people involving commitment, compromise, understanding, and goodwill. Ludus is what we experience when we’re fooling around and flirting. Ludus and pragma are fueled by eros, sexual desire and passion.
Love arrives, seemingly out of thin air. This is why we enjoy the myth of Cupid and his arrows. Maybe romantic love is blind, one-sided, fickle, tragic, steadfast, reciprocal, unconditional, and eventually, passionately committed. Romantic love grows from infatuation and requires nurturing to allow it to grow. Without care and attention, the best of loves will wither away and die. In my opinion, this is why we truly need Valentine’s Day.
The naysayers and cynics may put down and resent Valentine’s Day. The card, flower, and candy mongers may twist romantic love into a tool for their commercial exploitations. In the end, opinions and ambitions are irrelevent.
Romantic love is the story of humankind. The mystery of the time before it is consummated has been told in volumes. When love is pledged and made into a commitment, it has been expressed in the great heroic epics of history. The pains of unrequited desire or the end of love are found in poetry and song. The drive to love the one you really love is found at the center of history and even today’s political struggle about marriage.
If we find ourselves in a situation that does not support love, then we need to move on. However, if we are in a relationship that fosters growth and joy, we have a beautiful, loving condition that must be nurtured, and treasured. This is why I went outdoors for a walk, breathed in the fresh air, and thought about the loves of my life.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
The Blue Jay of Happiness reminds us to live our lives as an expression of our truest selves. Love as much as humanly possible. We make our world a kinder, better place by living and loving fully.