Tuesday 15 June 2010


How presumptuous, I can hear you say. I did think long and hard before giving this post that title. I started by envisaging everyone who had written on the subject, from the inception of the written word. It was a funny thought. It was soon an hysterical thought as the examples tumbled over one another and ran in pairs along my inner eye. However, I don't intend to define love, I intend just to chatter on about it for a paragraph or two. It all began when my cat was sitting in front of me at table, the other day. (This is not a Health and Safety discussion, so you can gloss over that bit.) We had both just had breakfast, she on the floor this time and me at the table, just to clarify what you are picturing. She was staring me in the eye and miaowing, her long 'you-havent-got-it-yet' miaow. There were fresh food, fresh water, clean litter, what could I have overlooked? So I told her I loved her, as often I do. I got the tail-flick response I have come to expect when she hears those words but still, and also, the miaows, which got longer and longer and longer. She must have been a mezzo-soprano in another life; in that the case, she has certainly retained the breath control of a professional singer and her voice is quite low compared with other felines of my acquaintance. Anyway, telling her I loved her was not what I had not 'got'. Then it came to me that one cannot live on love alone even if that were what my beloved cat had been asking me for. So, of course, I got up and found her a little something more to supplement and pacify. Guess what: the miaowing stopped.

It made me think, though. If you cannot live on love alone, can you die without it? I think you can. You wouldn't just lie down and be, as it were dead, never get up again, you'd probably contract an illness which, although curable, somehow wouldn't be cured. Damn it! I don't know exactly how you would do it but it wouldn't be surprising if many ill people were, if the truth be unveiled, quietly fading from lack of love. I do know it is possible to be as if dead inside. Life goes on apparently unchanged, on the outside. A three dimension version of you operates without any noticeable inconsistency; rather like a Stepford Wife, in fact: a facimile of the real thing. There was a film along similar, but kinder and more profound lines: Lars and the Real Girl. Brilliant, see it. But much must depend on the cause of this death by non-love. Rejection will do it every time, wouldn't you say? Being subjected to a pretend love, particularly parental, would be another good way to experience it. We, surely, all know people who are so desparate for love that their lives become distorted with the effort to acquire it. You know, the Mother's Little Helper people who are the first at the scene in a crisis and who are able to devine - and provide - what you want before you are even aware you want it. Sainthood may arise from that very phenomenon. I'm not proud of the way that sounds. It sounds condescending and even pejorative. Forgive me. I don't like myself for interpreting/noticing a hunger for love in those whom I am fortunate to know as really kind people who will do anything for anyone. I don't believe it detracts from the value of what they do: it just serves, anyway me, as an explanation for why they do it. I can't see how I could have the gall to leave the subject there, but, for the moment I must go and check what my beloved miaowing mezzo wants now. If there is anything I can do for her, you would expect me to do it wouldn't you, craven seeker for love that I am.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. We send you our love in fuller awareness of what it means. Brian

Anonymous said...

Can there be perhaps a too much wanting of love? Are we not supposed to have grown out of the baby/young child phase when we needed to be the centre of the world and be loved infinitely and solely? I suppose there is a fine line between wanting to be loved unconditionally and needing to be pampered and cared for relentlessly. In my experience it's a hard line not to cross.