Love is a funny thing. John Lennon told us it is all we need. The church tells us that God is ‘it’. We know we need it to survive. After all, if mums looked at their babes at birth, screwed up their faces in horror and chucked the squealing bundles into the bin, the human race would have vanished years ago. Even those stone-age mums must have felt love, even though they probably couldn’t say the word, except as a grunt. But grunt or not, those stone-age babies survived and because they did, so have we.
So what is this emotion that we all talk about so much? It’s a lucrative one, that’s for sure. It sells. Most advertising is based on pressing the love buttons. Copy writers know we are looking for it. Everyone has experienced it. It causes conflict and madness. It can make you bankrupt. It hurts. It give enormous, thrilling pleasure. It is painful. It f**** you up!
Not to sound too simplistic, love is what we all want and will go to great lengths to get. Then when we get it, we become unsure of it. It is nebulous and wavy, like the cartoon Rhubarb and Custard – you probably won’t know this delightful duo if you weren’t growing up in the 70’s, so here is a clip:
See? All wavy – just like love. And I loved Roobard and Custard. I love the pudding too. Love, love, love. It applies to everything. We love our homes – that makes us search for the dream house and lumber ourselves with huge mortgages that swing like iron yolks around our necks. We love food so we become obese. We love shopping and it makes us slaves to debt. We love the idea of being rich, being a celebrity, being important so that makes us discontented with our lot. Love has much to answer for.
Of course, real love is something else. We all think we know it when we feel it. Do we? Love is an emotion that can very easily be misconstrued. We think we are in love because we feel sick when he/she come near us – very contradictory, that one… We think we love someone because he/she is ‘nice’ to us – bullied as a kid? We think we love someone because we fancy them… sex maniac? We say we love our lifestyle – do we, or are we always compromising, because there is so much choice!
A simple life seems to clarify what love actually is. Love needs time and consideration. It needs nurturing. It is something that, by the fact that it cannot be clearly defined, needs very careful thought. Life is a rush. We feel left out if we don’t run with the pack. We feel we are missing something if we don’t live up to some nebulous list of of expectations that will make all our friends impressed and express how much they love us – until the next person in their line of people-I-want-to-have-as-my-mates, supersedes us and they move on. Social networking makes everyone vulnerable to to this sort of exploitation.
And if you feel unloved, you can also feel ostracized by your particular group. Worse than death? For some, it can be. The desire to be admired and ‘loved’ is strong. However, dear old Prince Charles stood next to Lady Diana on their engagement and in answer to the question: ‘Are you in love?’ said: ‘Yes, whatever love it…’ And there you have it. Our future king sat on the fence like all good leaders do and protected his wavy image for posterity.
I like to ‘think on’ when it comes to a definition of this strangest and most important of emotions. Love needs a steady hand on the helm – cliché’s here are acceptable as love knows all about them – and it can enter stormy seas while you blink, once. Your first face to face look at love is what you see in your mum’s eyes. Dad may get a look in, but it’s your mother who will give you your first taste of love – literally. If you are lucky, you will have huge amounts of the stuff thrown at you when you are a child. Every child should be on the receiving end of mountains of the stuff, in my view. But how do you know if it’s the right type of love? As I said, it’s a very wavy commodity and can take on many different forms. It can hide in the disguise of beguiling sweetness, sickly sentimentality, subtle control or confusing mixed messages. Finding the right love to give kids is such an art that millions of books, TV programmes, films are out there, telling you how to do it, not to mention Nanny 911!
Ah, would that Nanny Deb was on tap like water… Um, not sure about that. But there are people out there who make a good living out of telling people how to love. You can pay them for their services, but would you actually know any more about this fascination emotion? It gets curiouser and curiouser, doesn’t it?
There is one way to research the subject. You could just pour a glass of good wine and listen to a few love songs. You won’t learn much but you’ll feels loads better…