Advice, Agape, Attached Love, Brotherly Love, Erotic Love, Human Nature, Life, Love, Mature Love, New Love, Parental Love, Passion, Philos, Poetry, Romantic Love, Unconditional Love

A Flock of Sparrows for Majel: Love Sold Here by the Pocketful

A Flock of Sparrows for Majel

(About a 3 minute read)

People say “Love is a precious rock of great price”.
I can see that’s true enough — so far as it goes.
But saying that is like starting to tell a great joke,
Then suddenly trailing off into silence before the punch line.
It’s like a mathematical equation that isn’t balanced yet.
It’s like a lonely young man or woman without a partner.
It’s like the proverbial eight fast and furious minutes
That is sex the scientists say for most of us much under the age of 35.
But I suspect there’s so much more to love than that.

Continue reading “A Flock of Sparrows for Majel: Love Sold Here by the Pocketful”

Attached Love, Awe, Bad Ideas, Education, Erotic Love, Human Nature, Ideas, Knowledge, Learning, Love, Mature Love, New Love, Parental Love, Romantic Love, Science

Do the Sciences Rob Love of Beauty and Mystery?

“It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery … It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.” — Carl Sagan

SUMMARY: I reject the notion that the sciences rob love of beauty and mystery.

(About a 4 minute read)

Love is probably the best thing most of us will ever experience in life.  This fact is made even more astonishing when you consider that life also includes blogging, and yet love amazingly edges out blogging even in the minds of otherwise sensible people when it comes to the best things in life.

But what is love?

There seem upon examination to be so many kinds of love that it would be perfectly understandable if the question, “what is love”, made us all go off into a corner, suck our thumbs, and whimper.  At least, I think it would be perfectly understandable.  But then, going off into a corner, sucking my thumb, and whimpering is what I do with about a quarter of my day, especially after reading the news headlines.

Continue reading “Do the Sciences Rob Love of Beauty and Mystery?”

Abuse, Adolescent Sexuality, Advice, Courtship, Erotic Love, Ethics, Human Nature, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Mature Love, Morals, New Love, Relationships, Romantic Love, Sex, Sexuality

How Young is Too Young to Love?

SUMMARY:  I discuss two separate questions.  First, how old must someone be to feel love? Second, how mature should someone be to handle love?  I address the first question — which is a factual question — through science.  I address the second question — which is a matter of opinion or judgement — through five measures or standards for maturity.

(About a 12 minute read)

After I had reached puberty, a number of adults — including my mother and some of my teachers — cautioned me and others my age that we were “too young to love”.  No explanation was ever given for why we were too young for romantic love.  It was just so.  Lucky for me, I bought into the idea.

I say I was lucky because during high school I became deeply infatuated with a girl in my class.  Had I not bought into the notion I was too young to love, I might have fancied myself in love with her — which would not only have been factually untrue, but I can only image the trouble it would have caused me at the time to think I was in love with her.

Yet, the question of whether I was too young to love is ambiguous.  It can be interpreted in at least two ways.  First, was I too young to feel love (had I actually felt it)?  Second, was I too young to cope with love?

Continue reading “How Young is Too Young to Love?”

Love, Mature Love

New Worlds

(About a 2 minute read)

I love talking
With the wise man or woman
In an old relationship.

Maybe someone partnered
Ten or twenty years.

Not to hear them now and then
Express love for their partner.
They seldom do that, you know.
It’s so seldom necessary.

But I like listening for the moments
When they speak of something
They’ve seen through their lover’s eyes.

Sometimes the waiter
Brings a salad with too much dressing.
“I used to put up with this sort of thing,
But Cheryl would return it to the kitchen.”

Sometimes you mention an art.
“Before Steve got me into painting six years ago
I thought I had no talent for it.”

Sometimes you wonder about an idea.
“My Janet thinks that’s pretty sound
And I’ve come to see her point.”

Sometimes you talk about people in general.
“Vanessa can spot a fake front in a second flat.
I’ve learned a lot from her about the masks we wear.”

Here and there in their conversations with you
They sprinkle the doors they passed through with Kurt,
The hidden valleys they explored with Kayla,
The new trails they hiked with Karen.
The whitewater they rafted with Josh.

I like to see how the wise people
Who’ve grown through their partners
Have discovered unexpected continents,
Have had new worlds opened to them.

It’s better than hearing them
Talk about love. There are no words
Sweeter, truer, or more moving,
Than seeing their love
Encourage them to grow.

Agape, Erotic Love, Goals, Human Nature, Life, Love, Mature Love, Meaning, New Love, Parental Love, Philos, Purpose, Religion, Romantic Love, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self Interest, Self-Integration, Self-Knowledge, Sexuality, Society, Spirituality, Transformative Experience, Unconditional Love

How Love Transforms Us

(About a 7 minute read)

One of the curious facts of human nature is that, if we are not rather frequently reborn through-out our lives, we suffer, and suffer greatly, for not having been reborn.  Equally curious is the fact the truth of that is not more widely recognized and understood.

Nearly everyone it seems has at least heard it is important to be true to oneself, or that a purposeful and meaningful life is a life worth living.  But the fact that life must involve a series of rebirths — that is largely missing from our general awareness of spiritual truths.

Continue reading “How Love Transforms Us”

Abuse, Butch, Ethics, Family, Friends, Goals, Happiness, Human Nature, Judgementalism, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Mature Love, Meaning, Morality, Morals, Parental Love, People, Purpose, Quality of Life, Rae, Relationships, Romantic Love, Sex, Sexuality, Shannon, Society, Tara Lynn, Tomoko, Values

Butch and Rae: An Unlikely Love Story

(About a 16 minute read)

Butch was such a nondescript man that he surely did not need a crowd to be overlooked by most anyone of us.  He was of average build, and just under average in height.  There was nothing either ugly or handsome about his face.   Blue eyes, a bit narrow.  Sandy hair.  Pale complexion.  Not only was he easily overlooked, he was even more easily underestimated.

Had you seen him during the time we knew each other, you most likely would have thought, “janitor”.  Arms too thin for construction, looks too unpolished to be a professional or even a store clerk.   And you would have been right.  At that time in his life, Butch was a janitor.

He was also one of those curious sort of people you sometimes come across in small towns and rural areas.  An honest genius with no more than a high school education, and no ambitions for himself.

Continue reading “Butch and Rae: An Unlikely Love Story”

Abuse, Adolescent Sexuality, Attached Love, Courtship, Emotional Dependency, Erotic Love, Human Nature, Infatuation, Life, Love, Lovers, Marriage, Mature Love, New Love, Sex, Sexuality

Women’s Sexuality and Moral Judgementalism

(About a 4 minute read)

Perhaps significantly more than men’s sexuality, women’s sexuality is typically surrounded and wrapped in moral judgements.  Judgements that seem to me to mostly confuse the issue of exactly what is women’s sexuality?

Science can be of too little help here.  Many or most of the scientists themselves might be getting closer and closer to a firm understanding of women, but there is enough controversy in the field that a layman might find it quite difficult which theory — or even which facts — to trust.

Continue reading “Women’s Sexuality and Moral Judgementalism”

Erotic Love, Love, Lovers, Mature Love, New Love, Relationships, Romantic Love, Unconditional Love

Can We Make Ourselves Love Someone?

(About a 4 minute read)

How often have you heard someone suggest that they can make themselves love someone?

I hear it offered as advice, or said out of determination to make some relationship or marriage work.  It is my impression women are a bit more inclined to accept the notion than men.  But I also think women are more inclined to take responsibility for a relationship than men.

Yet, as often as I hear it said, I more often see it assumed.  Someone — again, usually a woman — struggles to turn around her heart in order to turn around a relationship.

Continue reading “Can We Make Ourselves Love Someone?”

Agape, Altruism, Art, Authenticity, Awe, Beauty, Being True To Yourself, Brotherly Love, Children, Community, Creativity, Dance, Education, Emotions, Enlightenment, Erotic Dance, Erotic Love, Ethics, Extended Family, Fairness, Family, Free Spirit, Freedom, Freedom and Liberty, Friends, Fun, Giving, Happiness, Honesty, Horniness, Human Nature, Humanism, Humanities, Ideas, Love, Lovers, Loyalty, Mature Love, Morality, Mysticism, Nature, New Love, Parental Love, Passion, Peace, People, Philos, Redemption, Romantic Love, Science, Self-determination, Self-Integration, Self-Knowledge, Self-Realization, Sense of Relatedness, Sex, Sexuality, Society, Spirituality, Talents and Skills, Transformative Experience, Unconditional Love, Vacilando, Wisdom

The Importance of Redemption

(About a 5 minute read)

I sometimes get the impression that plenty of us tackle the big ideas in life almost the day we escape our cribs for the first time.

“Gurk! Life is mine to seize! I see it clearly now.  I shall be my own hero. Gerp!” Or, “Poppels! But our capacity to love is what most defines us as moral. Twurks!  What’s this?  Why, it must be what what ma-ma calls, ‘poo’.  And look!  It’s endlessly shape-able!”

Continue reading “The Importance of Redemption”

Adolescent Sexuality, Alienation, Attached Love, Attachment, Emotional Dependency, Erotic Love, Impermance, Infatuation, Life, Love, Lovers, Marriage, Mature Love, New Love, Passion, Quality of Life, Relationships, Self, Self-Knowledge, Tara Lynn

How Love Ends

(About a 5 minute read)

Some people have time machines.  They take you back a few decades, maybe more than a few.  This morning was hardly past first light before a man I know had posted on a forum a long-winded sermon, self-righteously confident that women (“especially in California”) have turned love into “a temporal thing”.

His ex “moved on too fast”, you see, and he resents that about a woman he no longer wants anything to do with — beyond still control her every move, apparently — should now prove to him that all her words of love were false when she once was in love with him.

Continue reading “How Love Ends”

Attached Love, Authenticity, Bad Ideas, Belief, Compassion, Emotions, Erotic Love, Happiness, Human Nature, Humor, Late Night Thoughts, Learning, Life, Love, Mature Love, Meaning, Mental and Emotional Health, Philosophy, Poetry, Psychology, Quality of Life, Romantic Love, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Talents and Skills, Thinking, Village Idiots

Late Night Thoughts: Love, Realism, Talents, Happiness, and More.

(About 7 minutes to read) 

Terri, who occasionally comments on this blog, pointed out the other day in a discussion about compassion that some feelings or emotions are as strikingly beautiful as anything physical.  Of course, that is true not only of compassion, but also of love.  And to me, one of the most beautiful things about love is how it so often creates in us both a desire to improve the lives of our beloved, and a sensitivity to ways that might genuinely improve their lives.

When I composed the following poem, I had in mind more the desire to improve, than the sensitivity to know what would improve.  Still, I think the poem works in its own way.

Love is an ancient thing
That travels back before gravity was born
And forward beyond the last gods.
I have wanted to sip your breast
In between the lights of night and day
And tell you how I’ve taken sides
Against a mammoth
To bring you his tusks
So that you, my woman, my love,
Will be happy now
For all the worlds
You have given to me.

Should love — any kind of love — really be thought of as a single emotion?  Is romantic love just one emotion?  Erotic love?  Mature or deeply attached love?

Perhaps erotic love is but a single emotion, lust, but how can you make the same case for the others?  Romantic, mature, and other kinds of love do seem to have many characteristics, rather than just one.  For instance, in addition to making us desire to improve someone’s life, don’t both romantic and mature love also make us feel greater tolerance for the differences that might exist between us and our beloved?

It’s a tricky question, I think, because perhaps they only make us overlook the differences, rather than actually make us willing to tolerate the differences.  Or are those the same thing?

Most people, I believe, stubbornly accept reality just as conscientiously as they accept their religion.  That is, only when it is convenient to do so, but then conscientiously.  Realism is not our main strength as a species.

Have you noticed that humans so seldom are what they want to be?  Yet so much of our happiness, I think, comes from accepting ourselves as we are.

All that striving to be what we are not seems to produce more unhappiness than anything else, because — while we can change ourselves around the edges — we have much greater difficulty changing our core nature.

But then, what is our core nature?

I don’t think I have the complete answer to that question, but surely part of the answer is that our core nature includes our talents.  By “talents” I do not mean our skills, but rather our raw predispositions to such things as athletics, mathematics, music, drawing, writing, dance, mechanics, etc.

A good way to tell if you have a talent for something is to ask yourself two questions.  First, “Do I like doing this?”  We usually like doing what we have a talent for doing.   Second, “Does it come comparatively easy to me?”  I think the key word here is “comparatively”.   If you don’t have a talent for, say, mathematics, but do have a talent for music, you will usually find that music comes a whole lot easier to you than math.   Answer those questions honestly, without wishful thinking, and you will most likely gain a pretty good idea of where your talents lie.  At least that’s been my experience.

In my view, pursuing one’s talents in life by working to turn them into actual skills is — all else being equal — not only conducive to happiness, but perhaps more important, conducive to a sense of meaning.

Now, all of this might seem commonsense, and so obvious it’s hardly worth mentioning, but I have met far too many people who were more or less clueless about their talents for myself think “it’s just commonsense to know your talents”.

Why have so many people been ignorant of their own talents, though?

I think the single most important reason is that, in this matter, most of us listen way too much to the advice of others.  They usually mean well, but they don’t know you nearly as well as you yourself could — if you took a dispassionate look at yourself — know you.  Most often, other people of good will want what’s best for you, but their idea of what’s best for you is very heavily colored by what they know about what’s best for them.

The worst evil that you can do, psychologically, is to laugh at yourself. That means spitting in your own face.  — Ayn Rand

The main reason I think of Rand in something less than an entirely negative light is because several of my female friends have told me over the years that Rand helped them psychologically liberate themselves from the oppressive expectations and indoctrinations of the religious cults they grew up in.

While I think there are better — much better — authors than Rand for helping with that, I’m glad she did indeed help my friends realize just how greatly they had been lied to about their worth and potential as women.

Having said that, my overall impression of her is that she is squarely in the buffoon class of philosophers and social critics.  Indeed, I even think it was pretentious of her to have called herself a “philosopher” at all.  She did very little to push the envelope of rational thought, such as the great philosophers have done.  But that’s a minor peeve of mine.  A greater reason for calling her a buffoon is that she could not laugh at herself.  Have you ever known a buffoon who genuinely could?

I am of the view that humor, in general, evolved as an adaptive mechanism.  To put it somewhat superficially here, it seems to me that humor greatly facilitates logical reasoning and attention to empirical evidence.   More specifically, it can play a key role in helping us to overcome our innate cognitive biases, egotistical attachments to our beliefs, and general intellectual inertia, in order to change our minds when we are wrong about something.  And changing our minds when we are wrong about something can have obvious benefits to our survival, albeit it is quite often extraordinarily difficult for us to do — and nearly impossible for those who lack any appreciable sense of humor at all.

In that regard, self-deprecatory humor is no different than humor in general.  So far as I can recall, I’ve not yet in my sixty years met a man or woman who “took themselves too seriously” and who greatly understood themselves.

There used to be a saying among fire fighters that, for all I know, might still be current.  “Never fight fire from ego”.  Both myself and the men I worked with in the few years that I fought fires profoundly distrusted anyone who “fought fire from ego”.  We knew they could too easily get themselves killed — or far worse, someone else killed.

Today, forty or so years later, I still haven’t found anyone — whose ego has such a firm grip on them that they can’t laugh at themselves — that I would trust at my side in even a moderately demanding situation, let alone where my life might be on the line.  Yes, I know, I’m only thinking of myself here, but so be it.

Of course, you might want to make up your own mind about all that, rather than simply swallow what I say.  I have, after all, been certified as crazy by a group of scientists.  Personally, I don’t think the space alien scientists who have contacted me through my microwave know what they’re talking about, but it might still be reasonable of you to take my words — or anyone’s words, for that matter — with a bit of reflective thought, rather than reflexively.

Attached Love, Authenticity, Culture, Erotic Love, Happiness, Life, Love, Lust, Marriage, Mature Love, Mental and Emotional Health, Oppression, Quality of Life, Relationships, Romantic Love, Self, Self-Realization, Sexuality, Talents and Skills, Values

Being True to Yourself and Marriage

The notion that one should marry for love is a recent invention.   Only about 200 years old even in the West, where it originated.  Younger still in other parts of the world where it is still catching on.

Of course. men and women have fallen in love with each other through-out history.  But only recently has it become predominant in some cultures to marry for love.  Two hundred years is so recent in historical terms that we can consider the notion as still in its trial stages, still very much an experiment.

Despite marrying for love still very much being an experimental thing, all sorts of myths have grown up around it.   I believe one of the most damaging of those myths is that you should only marry for love, and not for anything else. If you do, things might still work out for you, but I think the odds of that are less than if you also take other things into consideration.

I think one of the most important “other things” you should take into consideration is how your anticipated partner in marriage feels about your being true to yourself.

Being true to oneself is, in my opinion, crucial to a happy, meaningful life, despite that it’s so difficult to accomplish that almost all of us only accomplish it imperfectly.  Lucky for us, we don’t need to be perfect at it; we just need to achieve it to a significant degree.  But that is especially hard to do if our partner disapproves of who we are, and perhaps even actively opposes our efforts to be true to ourselves.  So I’m of the opinion that we should be very sure our anticipated partners will accept, support, and affirm who we are.

Of course, if someone is genuinely in love with you then it should be pretty much a given that they accept, support, and affirm you as you are — but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Indeed, there are a number of reasons someone who loves you — or at least seems to — might not accept you.   Perhaps the single most important reason is a wee bit difficult to explain, so please bear with me.

So far as I can see, there is more than just one kind of love.  In fact, I believe there are at least four that can occur between sexual partners.  And three of those — the three most common — can at times be problematic when it comes to accepting others as they are.   I call those three: Erotic love, romantic love, and attached love.

Erotic love is basically sexual attraction.  It’s quite common — and I think a cultural prejudice in the West — to dismiss erotic love as “not true love”, but I prefer to acknowledge it.  When we love someone in this manner alone, we tend to ignore everything about them that has little or nothing to do with sex.  Because of that, there can be a great deal about the person that we do not accept, but which we are unaware of not accepting. I suspect most of us who love merely in this way alone are wise enough to soon realize the fact, and avoid marrying someone solely out of erotic love of them.

Romantic love is more problematic.   When we romantically love someone, we are almost guaranteed to idealize them, to put them on a pedestal, and not quite clearly see any incompatibilities they might have with us.  Romantic love tends to last a few weeks to a couple years or so, and people who get married while it still dominates their view of each other can sometimes discover after romantic love wears off that there are actually quite a few fundamental things about each other that they do not accept.

Attached love is, in my opinion, the most problematic of the three.  It comes about as a profoundly deep bond that forms between couples who’ve been together for awhile.  Unfortunately, that bond can — and often enough does — form between people who fail to fundamentally accept each other.  They may be intensely in love with each other, but they do not fundamentally accept each other.

There are a number of other reasons someone who loves you might not accept you as you fundamentally are, but I believe the fact each kind of love can cause its own kind of trouble to be among the most important reasons.   It therefore seems to me wise to be very careful to marry someone who accepts, supports, and affirms your authentic self. I will tell you that, in my experience, there is no loneliness on earth greater than the loneliness of a person whose bed is made with a man or woman that rejects their fundamental self.  It is a dozen times better to live alone, than to experience that kind of loneliness.

But what happens if you do manage to marry someone who loves you — the real you?

Well, if you love them in return then congratulations!  You’ve won the lottery!  Not just the marriage lottery, but the at least equally important being-true-to-yourself lottery.  Perhaps there’s no better word for what can happen next than “magic”.

A mutual love like that can bring not only happiness but inspiration.  I think most of us are unaware of just how suppressed we are.  We are so accustomed to being suppressed that we scarcely notice in our hourly lives how frequently we censor, repress, and inhibit ourselves.  This quite often takes the dual forms of (1) our trying to be someone we are not, and (2) our trying to hide who we really are, in order to fulfill the expectations of those around us.

Trying to be what we are not, and hide what we are, emotionally deadens us.  But because we are so accustomed to carrying around that dead weight, it astounds us if and when it is ever lifted from us.  A mutual love based on accepting each other as he or she is can — and very frequently does — ease that weight at least a bit (and sometimes quite a bit!).   When that occurs, we not only become happier with our lives and ourselves, but magic can happen.

We can suddenly be inspired to fulfill ourselves by turning a talent we before didn’t even recognize that we had into a new skill.  Or we can find it remarkably easier than ever before to express a positive character trait, such as kindness.  Life problems that once nagged us can become surmountable or even insignificant.  Almost needless to say, our confidence and self-esteem can take flight and soar.  The full list of potential benefits is a long one.  Sometimes these things are fleeting and transient — but sometimes they turn into lasting changes.  Even when transient, they are worthwhile to experience.

Being true to yourself — or being authentic — is a difficult thing to accomplish.  Very few of us accomplish it perfectly, but both our happiness and sense of purpose or meaning in life can crucially depend on the extent to which we do indeed accomplish it.  Authenticity can be made extraordinarily more difficult to realize by a partner who opposes our basic nature.  But that’s not the only reason one should be careful to chose a partner who accepts, supports, and affirms who we fundamentally are. Another — perhaps even more important reason — is to reap the benefits of loving someone for themselves who loves us for ourselves.  Those benefits, even when fleeting, are perhaps among the most powerfully life enhancing and life affirming experiences we are capable as humans of having.