Love is a bloodied, hardened warrior, possessed of a vicious right hook and a fierce demeanour. Its been around, you know and likes nothing better than to dominate and force submission. It gets inside, not just breaking you physically, but works on your insides, rattles your emotions and turns your legs to uncooperative lengths of string before the first blow is even delivered.
Poets and their breed of ecclesiastical non-realists would have you believe that love is a refined and benevolent creature, poised and elegant in its every motion. They would drape it in their own aspirations, their own hopes for a world composed of infinite blue skies and bouts of endless sighing. Yet if you were to part those folds and look beneath those fineries, it is wrapped in barbed wire. If, like me, you are untrusting of anything which might appear too easily come by, then this is not a bad thing. But you’ve got to be prepared, you’ve got to be sure you’re made of stern stuff and be ready to get your knuckles bloodied.
Love killed Romeo. Juliet too. Antony and Cleopatra. Tristan and Isolde. Eurydice. Paolo and Francesca. Anna Karenina. Love is fire, it consumes and eats you whole and when it is withdrawn or extinguished, it leaves you cold and hollow. To court love is to also flirt with death. Not the death of the flesh, as such, but of the spirit, of the fire. It cleaves great chunks, bloodied strips from your soul each time it vacates your bones and leaves you scarred and that much more assured that you shall never walk that path again.
In its shadow, we are all kicked puppies, wounded and unsure but forever returning to its steel capped boot for another round. It bends your arm behind your back and makes you cry uncle. It steals your lunch money, trips you in the halls. It can let down the tyres of your car and pee in your pot plants. Lived in daily, it is absent of poetry. For the brave adventurer who traverses deeper into its labyrinthine bowels than most, you will see its true essence stripped of all pretence and artifice. It is a sound akin to a low moan, a dying ache which fills the senses and goes on forever.
Yet within that naked wail, there is music to be found, sweeter and more perfumed than any other. It is not always discernible, muted and drowned by the cacophony about it, but it is always there. You just have to listen a little harder over time, have to become reacquainted to its melody and its influence.
Because love hurts. It has to.
It wouldn’t matter otherwise. That’s how it gets in, through the cracks, through the cuts and sores. It tenderizes your heart, makes it ready to receive and to give. It softens you up for another to kill. It is sweet defeat. A beautiful loss. The only battle worth fighting.
If you can survive love you can survive anything.
Even the absence of it.