Ok, I have to declare an interest here, I grew up in a household where giving love wasn’t an obvious gift to those around me. It was missing. There were no acts or demonstrations of it and no obvious signs that anyone had the skills to practice what we all saw at the movies. There was sex and lots of it. I was unaware of it most of the time but once in a while I’d stumble across it…and I’d be sent packing.
Writing about love needs reference points, places where I can go to find stuff out. C.S. Lewis wrote about The Four Loves, dealing with the four classical definitions of love, usually spoken of by their Greek names, Eros, Storge, Philia, and Agape. The Bible refers to the philia and agape love several times and they are what can be easily defined as a love for family and a love for others. All are love but each is a different type of love. Both a sacrificially dependent on achieving good for another. We put the other first.
One man gave up 22 years of his life to cut a road through a hillside to help his villagers and future generations of villagers. This is love.
In the 1940s, the Vavilov Institue was the very largest seed bank in the world. It contained 250,000 samples of seeds, roots, and fruits collected from all 5 continents. During the 28-month siege of Leningrad (September 1941 – January 1944), despite extreme hunger and despite having easy and constant access to several tons of rice, wheat, corn, bean seeds, workers at this Institute never ate them. This is love. By the end of the siege, 28 Institute workers died of starvation while being literally surrounded by food. Surely this is an extraordinary love for their fellow man and mankind in general.
These acts of love were freely given to the people they hardly knew but to people like them.?
What I want to talk about is romantic love. Beautiful love. Immersive love. Satisfying love. And erotic love. I know very little about these things as I haven’t much experience of them. I have learned quite a bit of knowledge and I think I understand the many aspects of what each can mean. But what about the ‘feeling’ of love? What does it actually feel like? Is there a difference between falling in love and being in love? Is it a constant and continual feeling or does it rise and fall?
Erotic love is a series of phases. It’s a dance or a fluid game…it isn’t meant to be serious. We fall backwards, floating, swimming, gliding, slipping along in sublime ecstasy. We ignite and shoot upwards to the stars. It’s a surreal experience; almost out of body and ephemeral. Like a light show that fires you upwards towards the heavens and explodes all around you. You lose the sense of grounding and reality. And then…it is gone, it burns away and leaves smoke in it’s falling trails. You long for it to reignite but it doesn’t. Erotic love is a lust for otherness…it’s beautiful and sublime. It’s volatile and gentle, fast and slow, powerful and weak…it’s an array of contradictions.
Eros love is all of these things, all of the games and plays that erotic love gives to us. But it’s more. It is the deep longing for the wellbeing of your partner. It is the satisfaction of trusting your values and judgements. It is the solidity of your own integrity set firm on solid foundations. It is not dependent on what someone else does but on who they are. Love, to me, isn’t the fizz of its beginnings, love is the force behind its continuance.
Underwater Love speaks of how erotic love often fails, how it trails into smoke, it’s about the lover’s dreams and early hopes and it’s about their realisation and recognition of having to accept that it was fleeting and wonderful…but over. But I am left with the feeling that it transformed into a deep and long lasting Eros love…I want it to.