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LOVE - From an Essay; Laurie Lee

Born, we are mortal, dehydrated, ordinary; love is the oil that plumps us up, dilates the eyes, puts a glow on the skin, lifts us free from the weight of time.

At best, love is simply the slipping of a hand in another’s, of knowing you are where you belong at last.

But if we have chosen to live in the private grip of love - and it seems most of us have - (and remembering at the same time that there are worse masters in the world) - perhaps we might ask what such love should be.

Not the seeking of ourselves in others, certainly, which can lead later to mutual rejection, but in acknowledging the uniqueness of the sexes, their tongue-and-groove opposites, which provides love with its natural adhesive.

Love should be an act of will, of passionate patience, flexible cunning, constant proof against roasting and freezing, drought and flood, and the shifting climates of mood and age. In order to make it succeed, one must lose all preconceptions, including a reliance on milk and honey, and fashion something that can blanket the whole range of experience from ecstasy to decay.

Most of all it must be built on truth, not dream, the knowledge of what we are rather than what we think it is the fashion to be. Neither person is used simply as the other’s victim, but as one whose needs should also be cherished. Love approves, allows and liberates, and is not a course of moral correction, nor a penitential brainwash or a psychiatrist’s couch, but a warm-bloodied acceptance of what one is.

The sum of love is that it should be a meeting place, an interlocking of nerves and senses, a series of constant surprises and renewals of each others moods, a sharing of the gods of bliss and silence - best of all, a steady building, from the inside out, from the cosy centre of love’s indulgences, to extend its regions to admit a larger world where children can live and breathe.

Love is not merely the indulgence of one’s personal taste-buds; it is also the delight in indulging another’s. Also in remembering the lost beauties of such simplicities as tenderness and care, in feeling able to charm without suffering loss of status, in taking some pleasure in the act of adoring, and in being content now and then to lie by one’s sleeping love and to shield her eyes from the sun.

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Last updated: 17 December 2015

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