It’s not uncommon to hear the sappy phrase “All you need is love” from a confidant, the radio, a movie (e.g., Love Actually and Independence Day), some amateur blog or mawkish greenhorn. This simplistically cheerful sentiment has permeated the world, along with its cousin, the peace sign. Akin to most life lessons we begrudgingly learn, this Beatles reference is too transparent and ironically unfaithful.
Being in love is a great start but it’s everything after that point that truly matters. The difference between being in love and loving someone is narrow but deep. The former comes naturally (thus, more often) and the latter requires conscious effort. The best representation of this I’ve come across was a philosophical essay I read several years ago. In it, the sense of being in love was compared to finding a perfectly lush tree in an alluring meadow. To your eyes, this tree is sturdy and symmetrical. Going on this alone – this image you have in your mind – you deem it worthy to invest your time and energy in it. However, over time you become slightly disillusioned but still intrigued. This leads up to a point where, now faced with your greatest adversity yet, the once captivating meadow is scorched barren and the tree is unearthed. This is a critical moment because sometimes, after everything is said and done, a new tree begins to germinate. If something can survive at this point, perhaps it is meant to.
While there is nothing shallow about that ordeal, it nevertheless surprised me that it may not be enough. If you have ever read about determinism or the nature of free will, randomness or uncaused events is a major factor in everyday life. Let’s say that on the day of your big soirée, it rains and consequently, less people show up. Before this chance event occurred, everything was in line for you to have full attendance. I find love to be like this; feelings are one component but external contributors matter just as much. Often times, it’s unfortunate spouts of randomness that acts as one’s impetus to make unplanned changes. Whether such changes can be unequivocally accepted by all parties is another matter entirely.
Although I can sense a paroxysm of head-shaking from readers, everything doesn’t necessarily happen for a reason, you can’t necessarily do everything you set your mind to, and love depends on more than itself alone. If provided a suitable environment, your tree of love can become whatever you want it to be. And it’s in that sense that I remain, at least in part, a hopeless romantic.
-Single Guy in NYC