Love is not attention is a title that grabs people’s attention when they peruse titles of some of my posts. Or at least it used to. I don’t know if it still does.
The mind can mislead. The heart can mislead. Love is not attention. But there must be some attention in order to love. What does this mean? To answer this, we must know what love is. And what attention is.
Clearly we all know what attention without love is - it is the attention that we give to those things or people that we hate or otherwise definitely don’t love.
What I meant with my Love is not attention post is that they are not the same. I didn’t mean that I could have one completely devoid without the other. Quality, not quantity. Love and some quality attention goes a lot father than no love and quantity attention.
But what is love?
Sure, I could quote the Bible and a famous chapter from within it, but I shall not. Because that’s part of it. But there’s more.
In the English language, we have just one word for love, and that is love. In Greek, there are (at least) three words - eros, philos, and agape (and I know I’m leaving out an accent or two somewhere). Eros is a form of love, but some would argue that it is lust, but I would claim it is more than that - there is a sort of respectful passionate desire to share and appreciate physical beauty that is distinct from an animal’s instinct to mate. Philos is sometimes thought of as brotherly love, as that is where the name Philadelphia (the “city of brotherly love”) comes from - but it is more than that. It is also the love that is reserved for ideas, as in “philosophy” (the “love of wisdom”). Agape is oft thought of as the “highest” love - the love of being willing to sacrifice oneself - that sort of enthralled love of nothing else and nothing more and that being what matters above all. Christians are fond of emphasizing the importance of agape towards God and, to some extend, towards “people in general” as per the “love your neighbor as yourself” saying.
When we fall in love, it is when we are on the cusp of feeling agape to that one person. When we are in love, that’s what we feel towards that one person. What we call modern day romantic love is a weird little mixture of agape, eros, and territoriality. It is a desire to “have” all of the other person in
It’s a wonderful feeling.
It doesn’t last.
Staying in love doesn’t last.
People might love each other (philos, eros, and some agape), but that sense of being in love - ultimately it leads to absolution of the self - “like a moth to the flame”. Because love needs separation to exist, yet desires union. That complete union that results in the destruction of the self. That desire of the eradication of the boundaries of self-hood in something that we can probably not quite put into words because words, by their very nature, reinforce boundaries.
When I’ve lead with neither my head nor my heart, it got no where. When I’ve lead with my heart, sometimes even a few years of bliss survive, but alas, it too fell apart. I have the patience and fortitude to make anything work if I put my mind to it. My mind. My head. How can I determine what is best for me? Is that not the question that humans have plagued themselves with since they knew how to think such a question? When I’ve lead with my head, it lead me to a person who lead with their head so much their heart was not entirely well respected in the decision making process.
There are a handful of times in the past when I’ve been on the cusp of falling in love but I held back. Because she wasn’t the kind of person I wanted to fall in love with. Because I’d never met her. Because we hadn’t yet met. Because it seemed silly with a person I had such little contact with. Because she didn’t want a long distance relationship. Because I thought I had someone else. Because I didn’t want a long distance relationship. Because I wanted an equal.
My mind has been dominating. At what price? I continue to be described as heartless. I blame this because I’ve become so good at having my mind dominate over my heart. Perhaps this is a male thing. But that is an explanation and not an excuse. I feel responsible, but not remorseful. I made a mistake, but I don’t feel sad about it. My heart has grown cold. I don’t like it.
As you can tell from my list of what I’ve read in the past week, the last time I looked at her LiveJournal was late on Tuesday night of last week. It has been so hard not to look. I care about her. But I need to allow her time away from me to get over me. And I want to know that that is happening.
So I’m going to look. Now. A peek. Not comment. Or if I do then I’ll do so here, not there.
At first, disappointment. Nothing new. At least not in the RSS feeds. At least not if they parsed correctly. Nothing but old poems. Poetry that I’ve read already. Maybe the feed didn’t parse right. I’ll check the site.
Trepidation. Can I really handle this? Can I value her as a person and not out of pity?
There were new posts. I will read them in chronological order, so they all kind of make sense. One friend might be dismayed at me doing this. Blogging about it especially. Maybe. But I feel like I have to do it. To see if this evokes remorse over what I’ve done. To see if I’m as heartless as I’m afraid I might be. To see.
Life has returned to normal for her. Or so it seems. No obsession. No hope for us. No new poetry. She once mentioned she perhaps thought I was her muse.
All the words I shared with her I’d share with her again. But they were all just words between friends. Never did I ever say to her that I loved her. Did I love her? Perhaps never.
All the non-words I shared with her I’d share with her again. In a heartbeat. I doubt I’d be able to resist. But non-words don’t belong here in cyberspace. And she was dismissive of the time I indicated perhaps visiting. And calling too. She had her reasons. But we could have worked something out. We didn’t.
Whose heart was silly? Hers for falling for me, or mine for not falling for her? Was mine silly? Or was my mind over-reacting?
It doesn’t matter. Time has passed. Time heals all wounds. Hers too.
Mine? Do I have wounds from this? If so, where is my pain? If not, why am I writing this? O the paradox of my heart.
The heart is a silly thing.208e