Lately and perhaps not surprisingly with a newborn in my arms I have been pondering love again. This, in addition with a psychology class I sat in on last semester about the subject, and some other articles I read recently, has led me to feel like exploring my thoughts a little. Not too long ago I was conversing with a fellow blogger who posted some writings from a Buddhist about love that said something to the order of “true love can only exist in the present”. As I paused for thought, I appreciated the truth of those words in an ideal sense, but it struck me as not how love seems to
When I’ve fallen in love before, and others that I’ve talked to share similar experiences, thoughts of the future seem to go with it. I often described it as painting pictures in your mind. You fall in love, you start to see happy times, future celebrations, children, growing old together. These pictures seem extremely vivid. Like memories you’ve built on events yet to happen. From a biological sense this seems to make sense because that is how love should work. Love builds attachments, and attachments in this world give you strength. If love did not make us feel this way it seems like we would lose an important part of what love is really for; to give us companionship and togetherness, and increase our chances of survival in a world filled with uncertainty. Feelings of security and visions of the future seem so tangible to me, I wonder if it is true to others who have been in love. Nevertheless, if you could truly stay focused on the present, maybe this could take away much of the pain when a relationship ends. And I think sometimes this is why a relationship ends. You focus on the future that you take the other for granted in the present. And the loss of a relationship leaves you with vivid visions of events that will now no longer take place. Those events are in your memory and I’ve always felt that recovery from a relationship literally requires erasing those memories.
As I look at my son in my arms, I am filled up with love. Of course this also makes sense from a biological standpoint. I think the love of a parent in animals is somewhat proportional to how helpless they are when they are born. Human children are completely helpless such that any indifference on our part would lead to less care and more infant mortality. Some creatures have the ability to “hit the ground running” parents are protective to a certain degree, but especially if you are born prey, the kid has to kind of take care of himself a bit too and learn to run as fast as possible. Love comes in many forms and certainly the love for one’s child is different than romantic love, but I started to ask myself, what is that I love about my son? If asked the same question about my wife I could point to a large list of qualities in her, I could recount numerous wonderful memories and happy moments. There are of course physical attributes too as a basis for attraction. The love has a clear basis. No quality is perhaps unique in her, but all together she certainly is unique. The fact that I love her is not surprising, and the fact that there aren’t others out there who I might love or have loved her is not surprising either. But as I look at my son I wonder what is it based on other than a biological drive to love my child. I find him beautiful of course. Every parent finds their child beautiful. Once again if we didn’t, we might be less likely to want to take care of them. But he has no personality to speak of. He hasn’t been alive more than a month yet and we have few memories together at all. We have nothing in common except some DNA. We can’t really do a whole lot together. It is a purely one sided relationship. We give and he takes. If this were anybody else, friends would say,” you need to get out of that relationship.” Lol
I then read a story about someone having twins prematurely and losing one of them and of course I naturally thought about how I would feel if
my son were to die. Of course it would be grievously painful, but I thought to myself what would I be grieving about? If I lost my wife, the pain of numerous past memories and a deep sense of loss over qualities she possessed that I would no longer be privilege to would flood my mind for many years to come, in addition to the loss of the future I dreamed of us having together. It seems that if I did lose my son the majority of my grief would be grieving the loss of his future. For as someone in love with his child I see a future filled with vacations, camping trips, teaching him science, helping him with homework, going to graduations, seeing him grow and hit milestones in his life as we all do.
The future is truly uncertain and so loving only in the present seems wise in some respect, but I’m not sure it’s possible. I think the best we can do is try not to build those hopes and dreams so solidly that we allow them take different shapes. Nevertheless a part of me feels like the love I have right now for my child seems less solid somehow because it seems largely based on a feeling completely intangible and dreams of the future. However, I know that as he grows and I spend more time with him it will simply gets stronger and I know that as we do build more memories and I do get to know him as a person that I will be more and more in love with him. Given how much I love him already the thought of that fills me with nothing but pleasure. That is at least one vision of the future that I can hold on to without fear.