(Originally published April 19, 2006)
Been thinking about love. All the different kinds of love. . .
I’ve always been hung up on ROMANTIC LOVE: to love and be loved by this special other. It never really happened for me. Mostly, it expressed itself as this incredible unfulfilled longing. And the emptiness of This-Thing-That-Was-Always-Missing. Which I guess they call “loneliness” or “heart-ache.”
Then there’s the LOVE-YOU-FEEL-FOR-YOUR-FELLOW-MAN kind of love. Which sometimes, but not always intersects with Romantic Love. All these different forms of love intersect with each other. It’s “one love,” and all that corny crap. I guess describing the different sides of love is like describing the different properties of water: rain, ice, rivers, H2O…. It’s all still water. The Love-You-Feel-For-Your-Fellow-Man type of love is that “spontaneous feeling of tenderness that arises on its own accord,” as my guru Swami Muktananda put it. It’s the feeling that makes you want to do a favor for another person without wanting anything in return. The feeling of “love” itself is its own reward, and we’re all humble servants to it. It’s the one aspect of human life that isn’t a “deal.”
Then there’s the LOVE OF NATURE. The appreciation you sometimes feel for the awesome splendor of this natural universe (mixed in with the less-than-splendorous feelings you have towards parasites, fungus, contagious diseases, and TV sit-coms). You can feel that affection towards a tree, or a flower, or a dog, or a child, or a sun-set, or whatever. Or even for a special spot; your home or your hang-out.
Then there’s another form of love I just thought about: I guess you could call it NOSTALGIA LOVE: that wistful, poignant feeling you get, looking back on all the places and people of your past. It’s not so much a love for these places and people, but for the totality of all your life experiences. Like all the things you’ve been through — and you go “WOW!” Like it’s been the most amazing movie, with all these weird, indescribable peaks.
Then there’s the LOVE OF DOING. This friend of mine who loves working on cars described it this way: “When I get underneath a car and start working on the engine, I’ll look up and 8 hours has gone by just like THAT!” I know exactly the feeling he’s talking about. Labor-of-love. Or maybe somebody gets that feeling from going to the movies or watching sports. That fascination where time is no longer a burden, but a delicious food you want to keep eating. That feeling is the best, ain’t it?
I’m sure you could slice the pie of love up into many more sub-categories. But I guess the only other real important one is LOVE OF GOD. That one surely encompasses all the other categories. It’s the feeling that nothing exists but God, and that every molecule and atom of this world is made up of nothing but Pure Love. Love is what makes the blood pump through our veins, and the sperm shoot out of our penises, and the earth revolve around the sun. When we lose that feeling of love, we feel our physical being start to shrivel up and die, so fundamental is it, our cells crave the experience of it like our lungs crave air. All that we do, we do for love (though the experience often gets sublimated and warped into all sorts of convoluted plot-twists). It is always there, somewhere, behind every aspect of the human story. “Even at its most sordid, life is a profoundly spiritual affair,” I once said as I looked up from a gutter in the Tenderloin.
(to be continued…)