Friday, June 29, 2007

That funny little thing called Love...

I've been thinking... and no, that was not meant to be a joke. I admit my cognitive faculties have wasted away over the last couple of months that I've been at home, but these faculties have dimmed only in the context of financial calculations, economics, operations management and all the other stuff I've spent the last two years studying. In matters of human interest and general ruminations on emotion, worldly ties and life, the brain remains as active as ever.

Hence, this post. What's caused me to think rather more deeply than usual about love is, firstly, this post by Nirmal and, secondly, the astonishingly large number of marriages and/or alliances being formed in my immediate social circle. A very large number of my friends are engaged or are going to be engaged. A number of weddings of dear ones have taken place since April, and a very close friend's marriage is up next in a couple of weeks. In the last three days, three of my cousins have taken a decision on who to marry and when. The maamis seem to be in cracking form.

What makes two people decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together? In this context, I'm not going to consider arranged marriages. The criteria for the decision in these cases is usually based on
- Caste
- Social status
- The education and employment status of the two
- The looks
- A few brief, hurried meetings between the two

At least, this is what my impression is from what I've seen of friends' and family weddings. The families decide the acceptability and appropriateness of the union, and if the horoscopes align and the brief discussion between the potential couple doesn't throw up any nasty surprises, compatibility is assumed. Love, as a concept, is never a consideration. It will come, it will grow, it will happen with time, is the sage prediction. And yeah, that's how it usually happens.

But what about the good old, somewhat filmy, boy-meets-girl (or the equally acceptable girl-meets-boy; no one better accuse me of gender bias!), fall-in-love, get-married story? I find this to be the predominant form of marriage among those that have occurred over the past few months. IIMA seems to be a great place to find your soulmate; several batches would testify to that. These couples found what they believed was love, an emotion that gave them the security and faith in their togetherness, and that helped them take that big decision to spend the rest of their lives together.

What is love? I don't know. Each person probably has his own definition. I could count the number of people I can say I love on the fingers of one hand. Even if that hand were to be missing a finger or two.

Love is, to me, something almost unattainably elusive. It is, at its base, rather simple but finding it (or, perhaps, allowing it to find you?) is what is complex. Love is, to me, not a trivial emotion, not something to be bandied about freely. It is a rare emotion, straddling the stratospheric heights of our strongest feelings, our most personal emotions, in touch with our wants, our needs, our inadequacies and insecurities, our self-image, our very humanism. Love has the power to change us, to make us feel whole again. I think Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets captures the essence beautifully when he proclaims his love with the line "You make me want to be a better man." A pithy statement, phenomenally expressive. Yes, love can have that kind of effect. Yet, at the same time, it can crush us, making us emotional wrecks, mere shells of our former selves. At times, the sheer force of love and how it affects us makes the emotion almost insupportable, making us wonder why we loved at all if it was going to cause so much pain.

George Eliot said, "What greater thing is there for two human souls that to feel that they are joined... to strengthen each other... to be at one with each other in silent unspeakable memories." I could never hope to be as eloquent, but I understand and agree with the sentiment of those words. There is a certain selflessness and surrender involved in love. And not in the silly, mushy and idiotically sappy way portrayed in most movies and books. These love stories are travesties. I find them portraying a parody of love, some infantile romanticized version of love. Love is not necessarily about roses and kisses and promises and saying 'I Love You'. Love, if recognized and appreciated by both parties, doesn't needs words or objects. These are mere symbols, a means of relatively explicit expression which should not in any way be taken as a substitute for the emotion itself. Nevertheless, these symbols must be used sincerely and carefully. 'I Love You' is probably the phrase that must be used with more caution that any other (with the possible exception of 'Kick me in the groin'), since for a person who is sincere it carries an immense weight of emotion and expectation. These are not words I would use lightly, and not words I would want anyone to use lightly in my context. I have seen friends hopping from one girl/boyfriend to another like insatiable butterflies, all the while claiming that they were in love during the relationship but not afterwards. It sickens me, it pains me. In our quest to find a kindred soul, be it due to loneliness or simply social/peer pressure, we tend to assume attraction, lust, perhaps even a mere flirtation might be love. That isn't being in love. That is being in love with the idea of love.

I'll be frank, I don't know where this post is going, or where it was meant to go. I just had a lot of these thoughts jostling for space in my small, over-emotional, slightly romantic brain... and needed to get them out. Lots of thoughts and memories... People I knew who I thought were perfect for each other, but whose relationship crumbled. Friends whose dreams of love followed by Happily Ever After were brutally crushed due to parental insistence on orthodoxy. Laziness and vodka fuelled discussions on life and love... rushing through the 'Eww girls are icky' stage of early schooling to the wonderfully exploratory (emotionally/physically) stage of adolescence to the mature and relatively level headed and balanced emotions of manhood...

Will I end up spending my life with a person I truly love? Probably not. In fact, I don't expect I will. Perhaps most of you reading this will not. But will I experience love? I live in hope. There will come a day when it will crush me, I am sure. And that day, I will rue the moment I allowed myself to love. But, as the popular verse goes, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where is the APA referencing: "Being in love with the idea of love"??? Methinks I've heard that one before ;)

AC said...

Huh? Where? Show me a source, and I'll put in the APA ref :)

Divya Das said...

u ve been tagged...

Gayathri said...

Awesome!

Shveta said...

A very genuine and straight from the heart kinda post. Not sure if many ppl would have seen this side of AC.

Divya Das said...

Its a very well stated post... something in the lines of "direct dil se"... :)

NIRMAL said...

One of the best posts i have read in your blog

I am sure no one in this universe can give a definition for LOVE coz everyone has their definitions that makes it very very special.Very true AC..not all of us get a chance to marry the one whom we loved (or atleast thought we loved) but thats how life goes.

A diff post of yours with lots of emotions ..As Shevatha puts it a diff side of AC :)

Thanks for the link :)

Anonymous said...

since when did you get so soppy?!

Anonymous said...

oops, that was me btw, archana.

DiVa said...

Very nice post. Dunno y but as you grow older, companionship becomes more important than love. Or so I am told!

Shveta said...

Just like I said...not many ppl have seen this side of AC! And those who don't understand it, end up calling you soppy! But then everyone has a right to express their opinions :)

praveen said...

The fascination towards the opposite sex turns from infactuation to love and towards companionship(as the age progresses).....Many are true in their love and want their counter part to be their companion in their life.Others it might be a time passing.But as age passes by people gets more matured and thinks about the latter rather than the earlier

RPK

Anonymous said...

"... in silent unspeakable memories." The phrase that I think is love... the many unsaid yet understood feeling

Anonymous said...

Test message

AC said...

@ DD/Gayathri: Thankoo :)

@ Shveta/Archana: I guess I'm getting more (fill in word that means sentimental without the negative connotation of the soppy) as I grow older and see more of life and what it holds...

AC said...

@Nirmal: You're welcome :) I know the view we share might seem pessimistic, but I'm still living in hope...

@diva and RPK: I agree completely! I think it could be due to a slight reduction in fanciful romanticism and idealism, coupled with a more rational approach to emotions as we age...

Anonymous said...

You sound like Vijay - the Southie star, who keeps giving gyaan about kaadhal.
- Ravi

Ashutosh said...

Nice post!

Truman Capote once defined love as "never having to finsih your sentences".

AC said...

Thanks Ashutosh :) That's actually a very beautiful thought...

Anonymous said...

love needs no language..i think the best post i read on love over the years....enchanting :)

Srinath Ravichandran said...

The same mistake everyone makes about love - Romanticizing it to a bigger than life feeling - has been committed here. Simpler versions exist and the feeling if anything is natural and it is not necessary that it will 'thala keezha pottu thiruppum'.

on a disjoint note - your blogs make me want to renew my own.