Guest post by Emma Tobin
Love Can Be Enough
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
There are tragedies in human history that cannot be captured in words, calamities that have ravaged the world in fire and bombs, evil that we can hardly comprehend stretching ghostly fingers over our sleeping homes. As humans, we are awfully flawed, but we do have some redeeming qualities, light that makes these memories feel survivable. For all that we feel compelled to kill and maim and hate one another, we have also found something called love.
The universe is filled with bright stars and things as pleasant as coffee and baths and spices, but nothing our human hands have created can ever quite amount to that moment - you feel it juddering between your ribs - when you realise that you love something, or someone, more than you could ever hate them. Oh, and love has cracks and edges, but it swallows you, like a dragon with its great lolling tongue of complications.
Love isn’t wound dressing, it doesn’t make scars fade or turn our lives into magic kingdoms complete with frolicking unicorns and confetti, but it does make a difference. When old grief comes skulking back there’s a hand to hold, a voice that holds our heart in its lilt to soothe the throbbing in our souls. We spend a lot of our time thinking about love, be it love for a person or love for the way that the stars poke through clouds to light up dark places. It’s a human affliction, and as much as it aches, it’s also the most important thing we possess.
As much as love is terrifying and sharp and potentially ruinous, without it we couldn’t have things like poetry and art and dragons. There’s a reason why George Orwell uses romance as the greatest wad of spit in the face of totalitarianism, because love is personal and powerful, and the greatest act of rebellion against an unkind universe is to love anyway, love despite scars and tragedies, love not in order to forget but to dignify the value of human life lost. Love can drive us crazy and prop us up and pull us down, and like anything important it doesn’t have to mean the same thing to everyone.
Some people find love in books, some in numbers, some in people and some in religion. Some people love coffee. The luckiest people find love in themselves. Love is smiling stupidly and hearing your heart shudder your ribs with its surety. Love is when someone says your name like they mean it, when they look at you like you’re more interesting than their shoes. When they forget that anything else exists but you.
I’ve always thought that the most important lesson we can learn from religious faith is that love prevails. I adore the uncompromising belief in children that the one definite thing that God means is love. They see God in their family and their friends and in the things they like to do. Sometimes I think we don’t need to make it more complicated than that. Capitalism has made life all about success, be it financial success or academic success, but when it comes down to it, love is more important than all of that. Love is the root of passion and belief and art.
It’s easy to forget that success does not always have to mean what the world tells you it means. It can mean finding a fantastic book to read or making a new friend or the perfect cup of tea. And love, likewise, is up to you, defined by you. Just because it isn’t drenched in dramatic overtures with sundry explosions in the background doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be the centre of the universe your eyes create. So what if you scratched the car? You have a small pet at home who greets you with wide eyes and bounteous excitement. So what if you’ve got stretch marks and tired eyes? You have peaceful sleeping and peach-scented moisturiser in your future.