Romantic love is an illusion. Most of us discover this truth at the end of a love affair or else when the sweet emotions of love lead us into marriage and then turn down their flames. – Thomas Moore
Love is an illusion, they say
There’s nothing like being in love, isn’t it?
Feeling the ground beneath your feet turn liquid, having moments whirl you by while you are still stuck in time with him, getting lost on familiar routes, watching music come alive and hearing the moon whisper dirty nothings- the whole feeling is pure magic. Or at least, that’s what we tell ourselves.
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Ever since time came into being, love has been many things. It has been seen as a mysterious force of nature, a social invention by troubadours, a supernatural entity or plainly, an addiction not unlike the dependence on drugs and other substances that trigger a ‘reward mechanism’ in the brain. Whichever theory you subscribe to, love remains a human universal- ever present in life as song, poem, art, story, myth, legend or quite simply, reality. All across the globe, men and women pine for love, live for love and even, die for love.
But the important question is- whether love, indeed, is?
When asked about love, people offer several definitions. Countless explanations exist- yet none of them, in isolation or together, are enough to inform our assessment of what love truly is. It’s a feeling, they say and cannot be pinned. Granted. Yet, there is something of that feeling that starts with a narrative we haven’t stopped telling ourselves ever since we started to understand love.
We tell ourselves love is the basis of human existence. We tell ourselves that we need love to survive. Love helps us be better human beings. That love, and love alone, is the true achievement of life. We tell ourselves that we feel so deeply for someone that we cannot imagine an existence without the person. We tell ourselves that we adore someone so much that we cannot live without them. We tell ourselves that someone has become as important in our lives as life itself- that we wouldn’t know what would come to be without their presence.
Not only do we tell ourselves these things- we begin to believe them. They become our reality.
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In time, we find a part of ourselves in every love story we see, every romance we read, every couple we encounter or just about every song or poem we hear. The rain reminds us of them as much as the first burst of sunshine does. We cannot imagine going to bed without wishing them a good night on the moon’s wink and wake up to the brightest day after their dreams.
We build a whole world of imagined togetherness in our heads and hearts- beginning a ‘life’ even before it has really begun- because what we perceive becomes our reality.
In that sense, I guess one could say love is an illusion. After all, it could be anything − habit- because we all know those die hard, attachment to habit- because no matter how you spin that wheel, you ain’t gonna stop, addiction- and I have heard the rehabs for this one are ineffective, sex- because hello…, or simply, the ‘idea of being in love’- because what are we without love, isn’t it?
If love could be so many things yet none of these, all at once- these doppelgangers wearing love’s mask better pay up. We are already spiraling downward into an inescapable abyss of disenchanted living, ‘detached’ attachments (whatever that is), crazy hookup culture, no-strings-attached connections and even, mindless chasing after some shell of ‘love’ we’ve lost on the way. These almost-there paths (think the swipe-tap-click fests) to a desired destination (love) aren’t getting us to our happy place. Even if it is an imagined one. No wonder as soon as we look at our hearts, we cannot confirm, with absolute certainty, if we have ever felt love in its purest form…
But is it, really?
I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is. ― Alan W. Watts
I don’t know about you- but love does feel wonderful.
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Even when I am least expecting to find it, it draws out map routes to happiness on my skin- making it tingly from the pressure. It feels soft and tender on my skin, vibrant and vigorous in my insides, life-affirming and essential within my heart and most of all, happy and cheerful inside my soul. Therefore, I do not question it. I may not have fed myself the ‘idealized’ tales mankind is usually guilty of and yet, love is very much capable of sneaking up on me, entering my life and turning it around.
If that isn’t magic, I wouldn’t know what is…
Because love, in its truest sense, is powerful. And wonderful. And most of all, real.
Brain chemistry or no, movies or no movies, song or no song, poetry or no verse…I am not sure the world would be as beautiful if love wasn’t in it. And I can, without checking in, confirm that all of humanity would back me here. For those who have felt love completely change their lives, love is as real as it gets.
Suggested read: Someday, you will miss me and I won’t
And for those who still believe love is an illusion- let’s say I concur.
But what is an illusion really- and if an illusion is, and it is perfect, is it really an illusion?
You and I- we feel love, so love is as real as you and me. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.
Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License