“L” is For the Way You Look at Me.

A view out my windshield on Route Nine.

May 16, 2010; Chesterfield, NH: From my windshield, on Route Nine. Note to self? No more driving and taking pictures simultaneously.

“Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, / I’ve gotta love one man ’til I die, / can’t help lovin’ that man of mine.” ~ Lovin’ That Man of Mine from the musical Showboat.

Love is a word thrown around far too much in the world.  “O.  M.  G.  I totally love your shoes!”  or  says the middle school girl to her crush, “But I love you!”  We as a society seem to have forgotten the true meaning of love.  Like an appendix, the word is there, but it’s useless because it isn’t used in the way it was intended.

I am a guilty party.  When I say “I love you” to my friends, I feel like that is an adequate use of the word.  If I say it to them (and mean it) that means that I love them like siblings.  But when I say it to a significant other, it’s not adequate at all.  It feels ten or fifteen pieces short of a jigsaw puzzle.  So I’m not just talking a little inadequate.  I’m talking the whole ballgame.

When did the abuse of the word start?  I think I want to blame the poets.  It is a poet’s job to use the strongest words in his verse in order to invoke image and emotion into the heart and soul of the reader.  But like in any other part of writing, words and phrases can become cliches because they’re used so often.  And such is the case with the word “love”.  It was overused in work because people (like poets) wanted readers to feel the indescribable feeling that comes with being  in love.  I daresay the word was never adequate to encompass the physical and emotional reactions to love.  But when you read it, see it, use it too much, it begins to lose all meaning.  It is a casual word, instead of one filled with power.  And yet, people still use it in writing (especially poetry!) constantly.  Why?  There’s nothing to replace it.

I’m not trying to pick on poets and say they’re a bad bunch.  Really.  I have friends who are poets, and I write a poem myself every once in a blue moon.  But I feel like I speak the truth:  there’s nobody like a writer to ruin the value of a word, and poets in particular excel at ruining abstractions.  And you must keep in mind that when I say “poets” I am including lyricists.  After all, what is a song, when the music is taken away, but a poem?

Sixty years ago, “love” meant more.  I think it had to do with the moral standards of the time, as well as the fact that materialism was just beginning to take a foothold in America.  In the 1950s, corporate retail was just beginning.  There were more Mom-and-Pop-Shops, and as far as I can remember (which isn’t fair, since I was born in 1989, but humour me) there were no Wal-Marts.  In fact, most retail stores that we shop at today didn’t exist.  But I digress.  Nobody said “I love your new dishwasher.”  If you said “love” to someone, it was either to your family member, or, if you were really brave, your high school sweetheart.  When you hear people in old movies (Humphrey Boggart, Ava Gardner) say “I love you,” believe me, in the context of the movie, it wasn’t fleeting love.  It was the forever kind.  They were sure about it.  If Joe Schmo leaves Jane Doe in the middle of the movie, you can bet on two things:  1.) Neither of them hook up with anyone else (that sort of movie started in the eighties); and 2.) They’ll be back together by the end of the movie, unless one of them dies, and neither will die without managing to leave a message of undying love.

People used to say “I love you” when it was true, not when they thought it was (or should be) socially acceptable.  Divorce rates used to be lower, there were fewer abortions, and while I’m not saying everyone forever should abstain from sex until after marriage (because they’re no point in saying that, it would never happen) nobody did it to win a bet, or to get a high.  They did it for love.  If someone got pregnant, they got married.  Now, we don’t know what love is, so those things like sex, having children, getting married?  They’re all based on reason and social acceptance.

To quote Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, “Ain’t there anyone here for love?”

My answer?  There may be.  But really, how many people know what love is?  Beyond the cultural definition, beyond poetic verse.  Beyond childhood rhymes?  And, more importantly, how many people care?

I wish I could give answers, but I know that I can’t.  I hate leaving things open-ended, but these are the only facts I have.  I can’t reach into someone’s mind or soul to find deeper meaning and understanding within it.  I can only hope that there are a significant amount of people out there who, like me, would like to stop singing of love and throwing the word around like a Frisbee and returning to a moral state where love is true and people know how to handle the word properly.  Fewer broken hearts, broken homes.

Maybe the human race has just become so cold-blooded that most people not only don’t know how to love, but don’t want to?  That would be a sad day indeed.


1 Response to ““L” is For the Way You Look at Me.”

  1. 1 somethingnewplease May 17, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Some of the best shots come while driving. I have a few hidden someplace, and shot reminded me of that fact.

    Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Like what you read? Click here to get the latest posts sent straight to your email!

Join 6 other followers


%d bloggers like this: