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True Love

I finished a book a couple days ago, The Paris Wife.  I may or may not do a review on it, as I wasn’t intending to read it for this blog, but it was all about love, so I might as well.  I read it because I watched Midnight in Paris and almost died, so now I am obsessed with “the Lost Generation” and want to read MORE!  Every time I fly somewhere, I go to the Powell’s (bookstore) in the airport, and pretty much always buy books.  So I was browsing the sale section and found the book, and it is about Hemingway’s first wife, or rather, her story of their relationship, but as imagined by Paula McLain.  It’s as based upon fact as she could do it, so I guess it’s historically pretty accurate.  I am supposed to be reading a psychology book right now for this blog, but I LOVE fiction or at least an interesting story, fiction or non, so I read The Paris Wife.

So if I do the review, I will tell you a little more about the plot, but if you Google “Hemingway” (or you already know), he did not marry only one woman.  So, Hadley and Hemingway got divorced.  I knew it was coming, so I was always worrying about how it would happen.  Luckily I didn’t know anything about his personal life, so when the character entered the plot that became his second wife, I had no idea, although I suspected her.  BUT…what I am writing this about is that I WAS DEVASTATED.  I sobbed my eyes out for the last half an hour or maybe more of reading it.  Supposedly Hemingway loved Hadley the most, but…he cheated on her and divorced her.  McLain tried to make it sound like they were meant for each other, even after all the years, they were the best, truest pair, and maybe she didn’t embellish anything there, maybe Hemingway did call Hadley and say the things he said in the book.

However, after thinking about it for a while (that night, the next morning, and throughout the day), I decided that I think it is BS.  If you really, truly love someone, you don’t fall for someone else.  You don’t cheat on them and leave them.  Granted, he wanted to just have 2 wives and be one big happy family, but when she made him choose, he chose girl number two.  I realize that I am new at this, and people get divorced all the time, and they say things like they still love the person, they’re just not right for each other, it just didn’t work out,…I don’t even know, whatever else they say.  Sure there are other reasons, and many divorces that end badly (I’m sure a lot, possibly most, divorces end because the people are pretty mad at each other and don’t have any kind thoughts), but I’m referring to the ones where they say that they still love the person, and they ended it on good terms.  I don’t believe this.  I mean, I’m sure they love each other.  But I think that you can love someone and that is not a person that you are truly, deeply in love with, that you would give the whole world just for them, and you would do ANYTHING to be with them and stay with them.  I’m sure there can also be situations where one person feels that way and the other doesn’t, in which case the person that feels that way doesn’t get to choose to be with that person forever.

What I’m trying to say, I think, is that I believe there are levels of love.  I have had lesser levels of love before; I dated before, and it didn’t work out.  I’m sure the vast majority of people do not plan to get divorced when they get married, but I promise I will do everything in my power to stay with my man.  I love him more than I can even begin to express, and there is NOTHING that could make me ever want to give him up.  I mean unless he turned into a monster and did some terrible things, but we’re not going there.  I know that it isn’t always easy, I know sometimes you don’t feel it and you have to work really hard.  But I know that is what I want to do, because I can’t ever lose him.  So this story where their love was supposed to be true love, and she always loved him (I believe her) and he always loved her (BS), as sad as it is, I just can’t believe that he loved her as much as he said he did.  I would probably still sob if I read it again, because they DID love each other, but I just don’t believe it was as true and selfless as a love as I believe it is possible to have.  I think the selfless vs selfish part is probably a main component there, but that’s another post for another day.

I’m calling out the stories where they don’t end up together.  If someone dies, fine, maybe it really was an epic love.  But if they end up with other people, for whatever reason, and they say “oh, but I never forgot this other person,” NO.  If you REALLY loved that person as much as you claim to, you would be with them.  You would have done everything in your power not to hurt them.  You would never have stopped trying, never let go, never let anything get in the way.  Maybe it’s still the hopeless romantic in me, but my love story is going to be one of those happily ever afters.  Not always easy, but amazing for the rest of my life.  I’m disowning the sad endings.  Unless one of the characters died.  But even so, I don’t think that was the only way to have their love remain perfect.  I will still love those movies/books though, and still sob my eyes out.

I’m still really upset for Hadley.

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The Year of Yes

the year of yesOk, I am finally writing the review for this book that I finished a couple months ago.  It took me barely any time at all to finish the book, and I actually was almost done with it by the time I wrote the last book review.  I could barely put it down.  I highly recommend this book, although I have to give the disclaimer that if it were a movie, it would probably be rated R.  If you’re comfortable with that, it’s amazing.

The Year of Yes is the author’s story of a year in her life during which she decided to say yes to ANY guy that asked her out, since she was becoming discouraged with the guys she was drawn towards, and thought if she opened up more, she might find someone unexpected.

I was excited.  I was ready.  I was going to force open my heart and make myself willing.  It wasn’t that I was lowering my standards.  Just the opposite.  I was expanding my faith in humanity.  I was going to say yes, not just to a different kind of man, but to a different kind of life.

Since she lived in New York, this decision led to many interesting/funny/depressing/unique experiences.  The book is very amusing for the most part, but also poignant.  At one point near the end, I was straight up sobbing, upon the realization that we had some similarities, and her story at that point was quite depressing.

I don’t really want to tell you anything at all about the story, especially how it ends, because I really think it’s worth a read (again, if you’re comfortable with the content).  However, here’s a quote from the end:

Love is hard to pin down.  There is no language for it.  A glorious sparking inside you, an alchemy.  All your hurt suddenly turned into joy.  Love is inexplicable.  Of Dante’s Divine Comedy the Inferno is the half that gets read.  The Paradiso is ignored, because it repeats those same, trite descriptions of bliss.  Love is too enormous to diagram, too complex to re-create on the page.  Even if, as Dante did, you glimpse your beloved only a couple of times.  Historically, he met Beatrice once, when he was about eight, and again, when he was a teenager, and she, married to someone else, smiled at him.  That was it for Dante.  He was blown away.  They never even touched.  She died young, and Dante ended up married to someone else.  And still, his love for her was so large that, in the Paradiso, Beatrice leads him out through the solar system.  The Earth isn’t enough to contain them.  It’s like that with love.  Nothing could have prepared me for it.  All I could do was open my heart.  I didn’t understand everything that I was holding.  I only knew that it was right.

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Happily ever after…

When I was young, all the love stories I watched/read ended with “…and they lived happily ever after.”  It was obvious that they would; they loved each other and were perfect for each other, despite sometimes having only met that day.  Why wouldn’t they?

What I find interesting is that these days, the love stories that I like most don’t end that way.  I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I do know of at least one friend who likes the stories where the man dies, because the woman shouldn’t die, and you know that if he dies then their story ends while they’re madly in love, but if they stayed together it wouldn’t be quite as good as it was in that moment.  So, I’m thinking maybe other people feel the same way.

I’m assuming the difference between what I/we believed then vs now is that we know relationships are actually pretty difficult and complicated, and no one just lives “happily ever after”.  People can remain together, happily, but it’s work, and not nearly as romantic and passionate as we would like it to be.  So we like the love stories where they can’t be together, but at least they will forever treasure the time that they had together.  I’m sure I could name a huge list of movies that end like this, but I think you could do that on your own.

The endings are very upsetting, because I want them to be together!!  I mean they’re heart-wrenching.  I sob.  I cry frequently in movies, actually.  But I am literally sobbing at the end of the movies where the couple doesn’t end up together.  It’s absolutely terrible!!  But at the same time, I find those stories to be beautiful.  They’re my favorite.  I get really mad at first, but then I develop fond feelings for them.  I’m not sure if this is as a result of watching/reading all these stories with endings like this, but I have the same sort of thinking when it comes to life now, too.  I treasure the experiences I have, and am a big fan of “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” 

Actually, writing this, I realized that there are people who believe that, and people that don’t, and I’m guessing the former might have the same opinion on love story endings as I do, and the latter may not.  Thoughts…?

I’m still not sure if this is a good philosophy or not.  I guess maybe it depends on whether a person is the type that has regrets or not.  I don’t really.  I don’t see the point in having regrets.  You can’t change things.  I value the people that come into my life, whether they stay or leave, and I treasure the time that we have.  So I think that the love stories that we watch/read, we like the endings where they can’t be together because it ends at the climax, and they will have nothing but fond memories.  Terribly sad memories, but nothing can corrupt their memories because nothing bad can happen afterwards.  I mean other than the fact that it can never be…

Actually, I think maybe that’s just it.  It ends at the climax.  You can’t ever get better than the climax, so how else do you end it rather than to just cut it off?  This post was not planned in advance, so I’m kind-of rambling, and figuring things out as I write… When we were young, we thought that staying together and living “happily ever after” meant everything was just going to continue to be ridiculously amazing.  But now, we know that it’s more complicated than that, and it won’t continue to be ridiculously amazing, so the best moment is that time that they’re completely crazy about each other, however it is portrayed by the book/movie/etc, so in order for it to be perfect, that has to be the end.

Terribly depressing, but wonderfully romantic and passionate and beautiful and…sigh.

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The Four Loves

I finally finished another book…The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.  It’s not that long, I just don’t make time to read often enough…

First off, C.S. Lewis is amazing.  If you haven’t read anything by him (most likely would be the Chronicles of Narnia), you probably should.  That said, I find him difficult to read because the language is a little outdated (or maybe just British, I wouldn’t know 🙂 ), and he writes at a pretty high level.

So, I can’t do him very much justice.  Therefore, I will just do a tiny bit of summary, and you should read this book. 🙂

In this book, C.S. Lewis breaks love down into “Need-love” vs. “Gift-love”, and then divides the “natural loves” into categories; Affection, Friendship, and Eros.  Each category can be expressed in both Need-love and Gift-love.  He talks about the best versions of each of these loves, and the perversions.  I will only summarize his distinctions between the loves.  Affection is basically a love caused by familiarity and nearness; common examples are the love you have for your family members, or the love you have for a pet.  Friendship is what you think it is, but C.S. Lewis states that it arises from people having common interests and sharing those things together.  Eros is romantic love, and happens for no good reason, but it happens nonetheless.  You can, of course, feel more than one of the loves for the same person.

The fourth love is Charity, which he states is not a human love but a Divine love, because it doesn’t come naturally to us.  However, it is what holds the other loves together.  C.S. Lewis notes that we tend to make Love into a god, and can do terrible things for the sake of “love”.  The easiest example is Eros, because we generally make that love into a god more often than the others.  We will sacrifice anything for Eros.  So, if we are with someone who we once felt Eros for, but currently do not feel it, but we find someone else who we feel Eros for at the time, we have a tendency to say “But I’m in love!” and leave the first for the second.  In this instance, Charity would be what would make us still love the first even when they seem unlovable, and stay with them.  That is what Charity is, loving someone even when they do not deserve to be loved, which is why it is a Divine love.

I can’t really go into any more detail, because I would go into way too much detail, so you should just read it for yourself.  But one thing I do want to include is an excerpt from the chapter on Eros (as that is what this blog is about), for contemplation and/or discussion.  C.S. Lewis is discussing Eros vs. Venus, which he is calling sex, and how they are connected.  I find it interesting and, as he is addressing how men feel specifically, I am wondering if it is true, because my impression was that it was not.  But maybe partially at least…?

To the evolutionist Eros (the human variation) will be something that grows out of Venus, a late complication and development of the immemorial biological impulse. We must not assume, however, that this is necessarily what happens within the consciousness of the individual.  There may be those who have first felt mere sexual appetite for a woman and then gone on at a later stage to “fall in love with her.”  But I doubt if this is at all common.  Very often what comes first is simply a delighted pre-occupation with the Beloved – a general, unspecified pre-occupation with her in her totality.  A man in this state really hasn’t leisure to think of sex.  He is too busy thinking of a person.  The fact that she is a woman is far less important than the fact that she is herself.  He is full of desire, but the desire may not be sexually toned.  If you asked him what he wanted, the true reply would often be, “To go on thinking of her.”  He is love’s contemplative.  And when at a later stage the explicitly sexual element awakes, he will not feel (unless scientific theories are influencing him) that this has all along been the root of the whole matter.  He is more likely to feel that the incoming tide of Eros, having demolished many sand-castles and made islands of many rocks, has now at last with a triumphant seventh wave flooded this part of his nature also – the little pool of ordinary sexuality which was there on his beach before the tide came in.  Eros enters him like an invader, taking over and reorganising, one by one, the institutions of a conquered county.  It may have taken over many others before it reaches the sex in him; and it will reorganise that too.

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Hector and the Secrets of Love

Just finished a book…I started it before I decided to do this blog, but I have always loved reading about love.  It’s a super cute book, not really a heavy read at all, but some good insights and fun at the same time.  It’s about this psychiatrist, Hector, who is trying to find his scientist friend that has been doing research and development on a drug that can make people fall in love, but has disappeared.  So Hector’s journey is on both the scientific side of love, and his own personal experiences.  As he goes along, he keeps a journal, and I wanted to compile the “seedlings” that he writes, as well as list his five components of heartache (since he writes a lot about them, and you would get bored if I included all of it, so read the book), which then also lead to the five components of love.

I would, however, definitely recommend you read the book. 🙂

Seedling no. 1: Perfect love would be never having arguments.

Seedling no. 2: Sometimes we argue most with the people we love the most.

Seedling no. 3: You cannot win someone’s love without a fight.

Seedling no. 4: True love is not wanting to be unfaithful.

Seedling no. 5: True love is not being unfaithful (even when you want to be).

Seedling no. 6: True love is always sensing what the other wants.

Seedling no. 7: Love can be wonderful when the other senses what we want, but we must also be able to help them by expressing our desires.

Seedling no. 8: Sexual desire is essential to love.

Seedling no. 9: Needing the other is a sign of love.

Seedling no. 10: Men’s sexual desire can create many hells.

Seedling no. 11: Love and jealousy go hand in hand.

Seedling no. 12: Passion fades after two or three years of living together.

Seedling no. 13: Passion in love can be terribly unfair.

Seedling no. 14: Women always like to dream of love even when they are already in love with someone.

Seedling no. 15: In love, if we really knew what the other person was saying maybe we wouldn’t understand them at all.

Seedling no. 16: Jealousy is inseparable from desire.

Seedling no. 17: Jealousy is a sign of attachment.

Seedling no. 18: Love means sensing immediately when the other is unhappy.

Seedling no. 19: Could love be a combination of self-interest and emotions?

Seedling no. 20: Love means still seeing the other’s beauty when nobody else does anymore.

Seedling no. 21: Love proves itself when put to the test.

Seedling no. 22: Love is, smiling the moment you see one another.

Seedling no. 23: Love is like a revolving door; you go round and round, but you never manage to catch up with one another.

Seedling no. 24: Nothing eases the pain of love better than focusing on a task.

Seedling no. 25: Love is the ability to dream and to know when to stop dreaming.

Seedling no. 26: Love is resisting temptation.

Seedling no. 27: You can only have one love at a time.

The five components of heartache:

Neediness, Guilt, Anger, Loss of self-esteem, Fear

The five components of love:

First component of love: fulfilment (the other side of neediness), the simple happiness of being with the loved one, the feeling of calm when the loved one laughs, sleeps, thinks, the incomparable happiness of simply being in each other’s arms.

Second component: the joy of giving (the other side of guilt), feeling happy because we make others happy, saying to ourselves that with us the loved one has experienced joys they would not have experienced without us, that we have brought new light into their life, in the same way they have brought new light into ours.

Third component: gratitude (the other side of anger), being amazed by what we owe the loved one, the joy they have given us, the way they have helped us mature, the way they have been able to comfort and understand us, and to share our pleasures and sorrows.

Fourth component: self-confidence (the other side of low self-esteem), feeling happy to be who we are simply because the loved one loves us for who we are, with all our strengths and weaknesses.  Despite our ordeals and setbacks, the criticism of others, and the cruelty of life, feeling a measure of self-confidence thanks to what really matters to us: being loved by the loved one.

Fifth component: serenity (the other side of fear), knowing that, despite life’s ups and downs and its inevitable tragic end, the loved one will be with us on this journey.  The tests of time, illness, all of this will be bearable with the loved one by our side, for better or for worse, in happiness as in adversity.

And a quote from the very last sentence: “Love is indeed complicated, difficult, sometimes painful, but it is also the only time that our dream becomes reality”.