Love is, perhaps, just our natural reaction to an intense fear of feeling lonely.
One of the first books that ever touched me was The Bluest Eye, it is about intense loneliness. A kind of lonely tundra filled with many other people running away from each other. It is the first book that Toni Morrison wrote. The Bluest Eye exposes many ways that people feel alone, and misplaced attempts to right one’s self. Recently I learned from her interview with Stephen Colbert that Toni feels she did not do justice to one of the characters.
I am certain that Toni has a different character in mind, but I did feel that there was a missing chapter when I read it. One that I created in my mind, wrote for, and presented to the english class that assigned The Bluest Eye.
I wrote a letter as Cholly.
Cholly is not a good man: he is an alcoholic, he is violent, he is an arsonist, he rapes his daughter, and in all things he is a wild and rootless man. He is the catalyst, but not the cause, of many plot points. And, he disappeared in a way that drew my mind to draw him in greater detail.
Love is never any better than the lover.
As a 15-year-old boy I felt the most in common with Cholly, because he lived his life arrested in his teen years. His life started abandoned in a trash heap. He was a teenager when the woman who raised him died, and a pair of white men interrupted and made spectacle of his first sexual experience.
Extending my mind into this character at 15-years old in many ways helped me cope with my sexual experiences and sense of alienation. It helped me to deal with some of my experiences as narrative, instead of terminal experiences. Needless to say, at 15, I was a better writer than lover.
At least in my writing I could be certain, less confused, and less ambivalent about what my words meant. After years of barely surviving social systems that didn’t want me as a member, and weathering constant implication that I didn’t have value because the system didn’t want me–I was confused. I saw the picture that was painted of romantic love as both a life-raft and a constant threat. It was part of a system that hated me, and it offered the possibility of connection in opposition to that very system.
As a teen love is clumsy and physical. It is holding hands, and kissing, and touching, and sex–it ranges from mystically important to taboo. For many of us as we grow older it gets more complicated. For others it stays the same, but becomes less effective at its goal as life becomes more complicated.
Over the years my understanding of love has grown fed by this line from The Bluest Eye: Love is never any better than the lover. Take the challenge to see yourself as the story of what you have done, not what you thought your motives were. Observe yourself from an outside perspective.
It is harder to be lonely if you love someone.
When I think about my darkest points, they are not when I lacked people who loved me. It was when I had no love for others. There wasn’t anyone that I had the necessary openness to consider as beloved. When I admitted someone into that part of my life alone was no longer the same as lonely.
I think that is why so many fear being alone, and long to be loved. Because company and attention of others appear to be the shortest route to avoid loneliness. I think that the shortest route away from, and best protection from, lonely is to give love. Even if it is just one day, make that day about someone else by showing only the parts you like of yourself, and shine light on the parts of them that you like.