An Open Letter about Love and Fulfillment

Try this exercise: Go out to a busy street or park and ask several individuals “What is love?”

The answers you succeed in getting will surely be disparate and difficult to synthesize. Our age, sex, culture, religion (if any) and personal experiences will all influence our responses. Many will believe that true love, like Peace on Earth and other ideal states, is unattainable. Others will believe it’s a discipline, so if you play according to the rules, it will eventually be yours. Some will confuse it with infatuation, an obsessive and unsustainable flooding of emotions, that will always include that I’ll-die-if-you-leave-me feeling.

So what is it, exactly?

There is no simple answer and, indeed, it may be beyond human capacity to define. I believe this but respect the rights of others to define it as they will. One of the most challenging definitions is the following, which is often read at church weddings here:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:4-7) If this doesn’t make you count to ten, take a deep breath, think twice or leave the door to conjugal love closed altogether, then nothing will.

A favorite author of mine is Raymond Carver, known widely for his short stories and poetry. He was a smoker and full-blown alcoholic, who eventually sought treatment for his addiction in 1974, though he continued to drink until his third hospitalization in 1977. Among other things, he was warned that the threat of death was imminent for him if he kept drinking. He quit for good this time and began what he called his “second life”.

During that same year he met Tess Gallagher at a writers’ conference in Dallas, TX, and in 1979 they began to live together. They waited until June of 1988 to marry and six months later Carver died of lung cancer on August 8, 1988. Carver hadn’t divorced his first wife until 1982, and much of his earlier emotional troubles were undoubtedly traceable beak to their married life and eventual breakup.

Carver and Tess knew he was dying well before they decided to marry. Somewhere within his troubled history, he had kept his sense of love alive. His prior life and decision to marry made me look into his work to see what he thought of love. I will leave you with two of his poems, both written just prior to his death, which fulfilled my search.

Cherish

From the window I see her bend to the roses
holding close to the bloom so as not to
prick her fingers. With the other hand, she clips, pauses, and
clips, more alone in the world
than I had known. She won’t
look up, not now. She’s alone
with roses and with something else I can only think, not
say. I know the names of those bushes
given for our late wedding: Love, Honor, Cherish—
this last the rose she holds out to me suddenly, having
entered the house between glances. I press
my nose to it, draw the sweetness in, let it cling—scent
of promise, of treasure. My hand on her wrist to bring her close,
her eyes green as river-moss. Saying it then, against
what comes: wife, while I can, while my breath, each hurried
petal
can still find her.

Late Fragment[1]

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.”

Please read them well and take from them what you find, even if it is nothing. For me, they take me closer to and understanding of love in its fullest sense.

 

 

[1](Both poems) Carver, Raymond (1989) A New Path to the Waterfall. New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press

 

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I hope you like Richard’s letter. I hope it has taught you something as it taught me, And there are many equally amazing letter coming up so follow/subscribe to not miss out.

He has been a loyal reader and his comments have become something I look forward to. Thank you for that, Rich it honestly means the world to me.

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And you can find me over at –

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And until next time……….

 

 

 

14 Comment

  1. Something that all have given a thought. May be thinks everyday and the urge for getting an answer increases. The never ending questions before the never found answers. How can a simple emotion be so complicated yet the simplest and most important thing you can give and spread? Only felt and never seen…

  2. Nice one. Loved reading it.

    1. Tanya says: Reply

      Thank you.

  3. Swayam says: Reply

    *.*

    1. Tanya says: Reply
  4. Thank you my friend for including me in your wonderful project.
    With admiration, Rich

    1. Tanya says: Reply

      I am honoured to have you take part in my project.

  5. Lovely poem. 🙂 Whenever I see people full of abuse and politics, imposers or suppressors in the name of love, I wondered if they really ever loved anyone?

    1. Thank you, Cherilyn, you comment alone makes me so happy that I decided to be part of Tanya’s project.

      1. I love Tanya. I wish I could write like her. 🙂

        1. Tanya says: Reply

          Oh my! Thank you and you are amazing.

  6. Beautiful poems.

    1. Tanya says: Reply

      Thank you :).

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