After a while of being alone, and hooked on this long-term idea of love, its been a great change of pace to discover 24-Hour Love. Intrigued? I'll explain what I mean by that later.
When most people talk about love it's pretty much just a long term thing. When you love you are SUPPOSED to see yourself with someone for an extended period of time. It's like a commitment of emotion. A metaphysical marriage of sorts. It's felt as a binding implied contract.
I have friends who understand love as something that triumphs all - if it's love, it's a fairy tale, and we mate for life. Do as the penguins do. I like the sentiment. And I think for some people it may be true. Those people who stay with their very first boyfriends and girlfriends from high school or university definitely fit the bill. They connect for life and it almost seems unfair to everybody else. When we see this happen it reaffirms a certain idea of love that is circulated in media and advertising all the time, and it makes us feel as if, somehow, we are less than human for not having experienced this kind of "perfect love".
I like the sentiment. I wish love really were like the fairy tale we are convinced it is supposed to be like. I wish whenever we felt so strongly about someone that that would be enough to lock it down and live happily ever after. But it's not. That's too easy. There's no work. No lesson, no learning. Love is messy. Love is messy and disorganized and, for lack of a better word, fucked up, because no one experiences it or feels it in the same way.
The most pre-conceived notion about love is that it exists in the same form all the time - that it's universal. But I believe that there are several types of love. I also believe that they are all equally valuable and desirable. I don't think that one is necessarily better than the other. After all, if no two humans are exactly the same, then how can they share the same experience and understanding of love.
There's the traditional, mass manufactured kind of love that we all more or less understand as THE love we want and need to really be happy.
In addition, there's family love. The unconditional love of your kin that is extremely undervalued and underrated. It's taken for granted and made to seem as less love than "real" love.
There's easy going love that feels more comfortable and lighthearted than that "fire in your belly and heart" kind of love. It's not a display of fireworks, but rather, a candle that burns softly all day - sometimes barely visible to those who witness it, but nonetheless, it still is there and shed some light. And when it goes out, its very simple (and cost effective) to replace or rekindle.
There's the kind of love we feel for our friends, which can be just as strong as we feel for our spouse. Love is a marriage of the minds, that doesn't have to be affirmed by some grand gesture or ceremony to just BE.
There's the love that burns through hate. Hate is an extension of love. You hate because you love, or loved. Past tense. Whether you still love, or loved in the past, love is ultimately the fuel that triggers hate.
There's the love you can't explain - the kind that creeps up on you unexpectedly. The kind you want to go away. You wished it never happened. It doesn't feel appropriate, and it doesn't feel comfortable. It's not meant to be and it's not fair, but you keep going back to it because of how it makes you feel.
And there's 24-Hour love. The love that finds you on a random day when you really need it, and makes you remember how much your worth. It's short and sweet. It won't last, and you realize that, so it doesn't hurt when you say goodbye to it on the 23rd hour and 59th minute. It makes you feel good. You accept it for what it is. It's mutual and real for the time it lasts. No expectations, no deception, no mind numbing drama.
I'm making a case for 24-Hour love - the love that no one thinks is love. Why isn't it love? Does love have a time stamp on it? After a certain time, is it okay to love, but anytime before it, it's unacceptable? If there's anything we know about love is that it plays by its own rules. What are its rules? There are no rules. That's why there are so many different understandings of love. That's why we never know where we stand. That's why we stress ourselves out all the time thinking about it and how it works. What's wrong with 24-Hour Love?
It's the kind of love that you always look back on fondly, that never gets old or feels binding. It is a freeing love. It is the closest thing to real love as any other definition, since we've established that love doesn't play by any rules at all.
Does this mean we shouldn't love to the highest extreme or depth to which we are capable? To never look at love in the long-term? Absolutely not. Everyone is capable of different degrees of love, and I personally believe that people should express their love in the ways they know how, even if they don't receive it in return. Love feels like a gift we shouldn't give to just anyone we meet, or something that someone has to earn, so we have to repress it. This probably isn't true. It feels good to give it; at least your being honest with yourself and everyone you know. Of course, some won't appreciate it for what it is and may not return it back to you, but that is the risk and gamble of love.
Love is vulnerability. It's falling backwards off a cliff smiling and hoping that something or someone will break the fall.
We can't so easily change the way we love, but we can change the way we think about it. We can start to see all the different kinds of legitimate love that is out there, and stop turning them away in favour of an unrealistic expectation of love.
If we treat every day like 24- Hour love, and are open to the possibility of 24-hour love, I believe our relationships will benefit, and our overall self-perception will benefit. Love is less of a two person game, than something we take part in individually, but as a group, and occasionally one on one. If that makes sense. Then again, love doesn't make sense at all, so whatever. Good luck and happy trails.