The idea of love
If one thing can be said to be common among all people, it is the desire to be loved. No other desire is shared by all people the world over. Some people want to change the world while others don’t care. Some want to make it onto a basketball team, and others hate sports. Some strive for acetic purity in fasting, others are forever consuming food in gluttonous delight. But the desire to be loved is the one common thread, and even the hermit cannot ignore his wish to be a meaningful component in some scheme beyond himself.
So it would seem that humans would have figured out the secrets of love long ago. But when we go and read the ancient texts, the correspondences of the ages, the longings, the ever painful searching quests for true loves, we often see that the goal of eternal bliss in the arms of love are so rare. For every king who built a palace for his true love, there were a thousand kings with thousands of women of no importance to their hearts. For every knight who saved his damsel and rode off into the sunset of happiness, there were countless tyrants who stole away women and committed them to unhappy slavery.
Now, in an age where the dominance of man over woman has diminished markedly, it might seem that love would be more common. Such is not the case, as we find that our literature is still just as filled with longing, with a sorrowful cry for that mystical enchantment called love. Our music still reminds us that we are alone too often, that we have failed to make that lasting friendship that is the goal of life. Our art almost focuses on the erotic as a way to remind us of a piece of love, but the heart of our art is often meaninglessly hollow: it has little anchored in the actual experience of our nightly dreams.
Wherein lies our tormented inability to find love? Is this world so truly harsh that a dream in us all is but a mocking phantom sent to haunt us and cause agony? Do we desire, above all things, something that is not real? Or is it just that we have striven to find love before we knew where to look?
Realism states that love has been missing from the lives of the masses. In this reality it paints a picture drenched in pessimism. It would make the more weak souls ask what purpose is there to live when they cannot have what they want most. For the stronger, it merely gives them a bitter satisfaction in surviving against a foe that is so great as to be timeless; for them, at least they did not fall to the monster of despair, although life lacked fulfillment.
But there have been those cases where love was real. The king who gave away his kingdom for a single woman, the woman who ran away from her world to live with a man. There are times when two people find each other and they are overwhelmed with a chemistry that cannot ever be removed. They find that they are happy just to exist side by side, that suddenly days are filled with laughter and fun. Many people can have fun, and love, but this type of relationship where the fun does not stop, where the sparkle in the eye and the smirk of frolicking joy never fades, is so immensely rare. Precious, it does occur.
This love is not impossible. This love is available to all of us, I say. But it is not something that can just happen—it is something that occurs only after given requirements are met. Why so many people cannot find the love of their life is because they have failed to find love for themselves. Those people bitter, those people with a sorrowful heart, depressed about existence, cannot ever give life to another person. The woman forever sad about all things does not fill the heart of a man with joyous excitement, and a man bitter at the world cannot make a woman feel special. They can walk a while and share their suffering, but they have nothing to add to one another. If they do not love themselves, they have nothing to radiate, nothing they want to share about themselves.
You will find that those happiest in life are those same people who love themselves. You will find that the most beautiful woman is she with the quick smile that is a response to her inner understanding that she should be happy to live. You will find that the man most charismatic is he who feels that he has something about himself that is intrinsically valuable. These people will be happy, and they will find love.
2011-10-26: I remember when I first wrote this article, there were some snickers in the editoral room at the paper. I guess it's a funny thing for a man to say that you should love yourself. I still feel that this is a very important thing, though. I think that it is important to love yourself and your life; otherwise, you have nothing to offer the people around you.