Tuesday 26 October 2010


Ok: there's no need to shout. I am perfectly well aware of the presumption of writing a post entitled "Love". Nevertheless, that's just what I am going to do. I have been thinking about love for the best part of three score and more than ten years. Recently, I came to the conclusion that love could be columnised in two lists. There is love by circumstance and love by choice. Love by circumstance would include ones children and ones other relatives. By and large, these are people one loves simply because they exist. Surely you have come across the phenomenon of the prodigal son. I thought so. For my purpose, though, it would need some modifying. What I had in mind was the impossible behaviour of the breaking-out teenager, with which we are all familiar. Short of murder, manslaughter, arson, you know, the sort of behaviour which tends to bring in the outside world, often dressed in blue, to deal with it, I have observed parents going on loving the most dastardly little darlings who are ruining the lives of all with whom they come in touch. Parents tend to forgive rudeness, unkindness, indifference without losing the pull at the heart which is the best I can do to categorise love for the moment. I suppose this may also be true the other way around: children forgive parents who abandon, abuse, neglect and are indifferent to their young. When I was little, I had an Uncle whom I now realise was a sandwich or two short of a picnic. (Not a blood relative, I hasten to aver: married to one.) He was a horrible little man whose idea of one good joke was to play the sound of an air-raid siren on his fiddle in the middle of the night. (I don't feel able to tell you the really bad ones). He had a sqeaky voice, which should have made him sufficiently to be laughed at by me and my cousins - other than his own children - that the sting would have been taken out of his power to fighten and undermine. Do you know, we actually believed we loved this man because he was our uncle. We certainly kept going back to his house although his wife, my actual aunt, whom I suppose I did sort of love, made the worst Welsh cakes in the country. I was seventeen when I announced that, not only did I not love Uncle D, I hated him. The ensuing parental argument was along the lines of " of course you don't hate him: he's your Uncle".

To love by choice is a quite different kettle of lobster. Definition, description, everything defies possibility. From best friends in the playground to partners in life, those we choose to love, or, rather, the reasons we choose to love them, have to be recorded under 'enigma', anyway, by me. I am prepared to talk about the pull at the heart, but, in the last resort, is'nt one just left with the 'you know what I mean' option? Take the Guru - no don't, I need him to out - face the Wizard of Cyberspace. Love is a word good enough for my response to him. Why? He is no longer an enchanting toddler, an interestingly clever five-year-old. We negotiated teen-age well enough. We do have some similar ways of looking at the world but not enough to fill a questionnaire. I am left with the possibility that we were somehow related in another life. That would/could make him loved by circumstance, though, depending on HOW we were related. What about my cat? I certainly love her, which, considering how rotten she is to almost every other human in her world, doesn't immediately qualify her as eminently lovable. Perhaps I love her because I can interpret her way of being in the world as including love for me. I am the provider of the safe haven in which she lives, but I don't know if that is sufficient to explain the way she follows me and waits for me to provide a lap or a tummy to climb on to and miaows if I am too long about it. Her little head rubs against my hand and - that's quite enough. The rest is private. If I think about those I love through choice, I begin to suspect they do have one thing in common, though: what you see is what you get. There is no organisation, manipulation of the personailty to confuse or deceive. A spouse/partner starts as choice and in due course becomes circumstance, a relative. Of course, the loved by circumstance and the loved by choice may each induce the same phenomenon: the 'Ah/Yes' that stirs your heart and waters your eyes and delights your soul. Blood is incidental then. Each is just joy. See you sooner.

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