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"I only know it when I feel it."

Many seem to conflate love and like. I'd love to tell you why, but I don't know why. I think, perhaps, I'd really rather like to tell you, but the common idiom insists that I oversell my motivation by insisting that I'd love to tell you. I would if I could but I can't. Perhaps such conflations originate in our inability to properly define the term love. Love fails the noun test—it's clearly neither person, place, nor thing—though everyone uses it as a noun. It seems to be a terribly personal emotion without a specific universal referent. Ask what it's like and you'll receive a flood of profound banality in return. Some say that God is love, which, by The Commutative Law Of Is, means that love is also God. Go figure.

Fall in love and lose your mind, though losing your mind has never been shown to be a clear path to God.
The love I experienced with The Muse when we were courting has evolved into the sort of love persistent after twenty years of cohabitation. The present love seems better informed than that earlier instance. Stand them up side by side and nobody, not even Sherlock Holmes himself, could discern a similarity. It's a felt sense, only occasionally publicly professed, more assumed most of the time.

Basing a society upon love seems sort of naive, even to those of us who consider ourselves to be honored veterans of multiple experiences. The movies mug as if someone could master love, from playboys to circe sirens, some seem to figure out how to manipulate that which seems much more often to blindly manipulate instead. I doubt that anyone ever, in the history of the world so far, ever came close to figuring out love. We revere it, sometimes fear it, even pray for its reassuring deliverance without having the first clue what it is. I learned from my father that his love for my mother was somehow based on a covenant forged, probably tacitly, in the earliest days of their relationship. It became quite literally unbreakable, unlike my own first (and second) marriages. I'd suggest that we take a few days to hop down to Arizona to watch the Mariners' spring training but he would refuse to go, to be separated from his love. Just part of the deal, he insisted, without ever finding words to delineate the boundaries and breadth of that deal.

As a huge fan of The American Songbook, I must know a few hundred paeans to love: love songs, each one different yet each somewhat the same. Some silly, some deadly serious, some capable of reliably lumping a throat at more than thirty paces. I sense that love retains a fragility akin to a butterfly's wings, in constant need of reassurance lest we forget; maybe, lest it forget. To declare that I Love You must mean more than the "I'll pick you up after five" accompanying the statement. It seems to say that even though I have no freaking clue what I'm doing here, I'm encouraged, empowered by your presence here with me, not having a freaking clue what you're doing here, either.

Love might be the perfect companion for the clueless. It's a God not requiring raiment or tithing, extracting laughter, tears, fears, and sometimes even deep loneliness. It can show up playing saxophone in a boogie-woogie band as easily as in the string section accompanying some sentimental torch song. It seems to be an integral element of the human condition without actually ever becoming a tangible anything at all. I only know it when I feel it. How clueless is that?

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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