November 3, 2007

Love and companionship

This had been an eventful few weeks. There have been many events that individually have caused me joy, which taken together never cease to bring a smile on to my face.

The main theme of these smile-bringing events is that a few of my friends have gone and gotten committed, committed in love. The net result is here I am, sitting on a moving train, with a test coming shortly, writing about something, which has never made sense to me.

I am not sure how I am going to start this piece. I am going to use a line that I heard in a song by Savage Garden. Even though I do not remember the song, the lines remain in my head. The line goes: “Love and other emotions are just chemical reactions in your brain. Feelings of aggression are the absence of the love drug in your veins.”

I have concluded that in the end of the day, love is nothing but that. Love has never been defined well. I am yet to come across a definition that has hung on. However, I can surely say what it is not. It is not the mush that we have come to identify with love. It is not the yearning, the desire to always be with the other person. That is something that has been inserted into our psyche by the movies and the television shows. That is just to increase the yearning in us, thereby increasing the revenues in the theatres and the cards and gift shops. This post is to be more of a thought provoking one, and may be a little thought giving one. It all boils down to what I have seen in people close to me.

The people I am referring to are cases by themselves.

  • One has been committed for nearly eight years now, with his age being twenty three (you do the math)
  • One is not sure if the girl he is with now is the same girl that he fell in love with (Is he in love, was he in love, don’t ask me)
  • One who never believed in the word love, tells me that he/she is desperately in love with a girl/boy (He/she in fact sends me a picture asking, telling, “Ain’t she/he good-looking?”
  • One is candid enough to tell me that he/she can never get past the physical looks of a person (this needs guts, to admit to someone that all you look for is the physical appearance and do not proceed beyond that)
  • One is able to fall in love and out of it in a matter of a week, one has been in love with a girl/boy for ages, and now he/she has finally gotten over her/him and fallen in love with another girl/boy (I hope that this one stays)
  • One is in love with a person for almost six years, gets over her/him (says he/she does) in a week, falls for another person, lets that person go in another week (All in a week's work)
  • One believes that to get over someone, we have to hate them (does this mean that we love them once and then hate them, is this not equivocal?)
  • One wants to be committed so he/she can refrain from having to take decisions (is he looking for a partner or a boss?)
  • And finally, one who is not sure if he/she is in love with a person, or the idea of that person (Hysterical!!!)
The closest I have come to understanding it is this. It is a desire for comfort. It is a desire to be wanted. It is a desire to be needed. It is a desire to know that you are valued and you make someone’s life better. It is a desire to know that no matter what you do, someone is willing to be there for you, 24x7. Ultimately, it is the need for companionship.

If it were easily understood, I guess that there is no charm behind those three words. No one knows what they mean when they utter them. I can never forget the scene in Alaipayuthey when Madhavan’s character tells Shalini’s that he loves her and she retorts by asking what he means and if he would jump of a train for her.

I guess that at the end of the day, everyone comes to the table with a different agenda. The trick is to find someone who wants what we are willing to offer and is offering what we need. It is a barter system folks and let the exchanges begin.



Suchitra said...

Definitions, I define. There is no such thing as a universal definition for anything we value. Faith, love, god, friend, or even reason.

It's all about the concentrations of chemicals in the brain. Dopamine, testosterone, serotonin, norepinephrine, oxytocin. And just like there is no such thing as the perfect coffee, that's perfect for everyone, the percentage of chemicals in the cocktail varies with you, and who you are.

You might find this interesting:

Lazy Lavender said...

Scientifically speaking, the emotions are just chemical reactions in the brain; what factors trigger them, vary from person to person, the factors themselves, results of other chemical reactions in the brain.

Coming to the post, the skeleton of love has been presented, ripped of all the flesh. One way of interpreting love, your way of interpreting love, sans all the glory it has earned. It appears like this, to me:
Qsn: What is the Eiffel Tower
Ans: Oh, it's a building

Of course it is a building, but is it just that? To people that don't have an appeal for architecture and human talents, it is just a building.

Likewise, love is an emotion, that originates from a person, based on what they see in another person. The post talks about the relationship in which something is expected from the other person. If that is all love is, what's the word for the relation in which one party gives without expecting such things in return, apart from "madness"?
Forget the no-expecting madness, even in the expecting case, would the love cease to exist, if what's expected is not met? This is as equivocal as the love-then-hate-to-forget.

And is it love only if something is offered, and taken? Isn't it just a feeling of reverence, affection, concern, devotion, attraction and all the goody things put together? Aren't the "comfort, want, need, value, desire" a result of the feeling? A way of expressing it?
Sure, if it's just a give-and-take across the table, it is just a trade, a barter system.

What it actually is, is beyond my comprehension. But I know enough to say that it is not just what the post says. The desires mentioned may help making a point, but they don't do justice to the term 'love', not in my opinion of it.

On a lighter note, I got the effect of reading a TOEFL essay and responding to it. I don't know where that came from.

Aditya Rajaraman said...

Is there a thing called a definition that is not mine? I mean, when I take what someone has defined to be red, am I not redefining it? Or am I blindly accepting that person's definition of something that I myself do not know? Just a question.

There may not be a the concept of the perfect coffee for everyone, although, everyone has the concept of a perfect coffee. Somehow, this is like the old Everything for nothing and Nothing for everything case.

Aditya Rajaraman said...

@Sindhu (a.k.a LL)
Even if a person had an appeal to architecture and beauty and stuff like that, the Eiffel tower does not cease to be a building. By using the words appeal and talents, you are trying to shroud something that is not mysterious in one of mystery.

Similarly, love is an emotion. To be really fair to the other emotions (this is to prevent the other emotions from getting emotional) love is just another emotion. There is no need to hype it as much as we do. It is not the ruling emotion. The ruling emotion in a man's life is the one that may also be called a characteristic. Ego. It is from the presence, absence, or strength of this emotion that the other emotions are derived.

It is possible to live a life sans expectation. That is the life that people dream of. However, when one does without expectation, there is only word I can think of, Sanity.

"Forget the no-expecting madness, even in the expecting case, would the love cease to exist, if what's expected is not met? This is as equivocal as the love-then-hate-to-forget".
There is nothing to say to this, because love, friendship and all the other emotions, have a reason, some concious and others below the surface. The ceasing of love depends not the binary system of meeting and not meeting expectations, but on the fuzzy nature of various constraints. It is like saying
Love = f (expectation, necessity, desire, lust, want, hope,....), with expectation = g(x, y, z,...)
and so on and so forth. Therefore it is possible that while the expecations are not met, there may be something that is. There may be a need that is satisfied, a craving for lust that is met. It is only f(), g(),... -> 0, that love -> 0
This is true for all emotions.

"Aren't the "comfort, want, need, value, desire" a result of the feeling?" Is the feeling not something that is based on what we want and what we have, thus creating the asset we are willing to barter?

If it beyond comprehension, then how come you know what it is not? If one does not know what it is, then for sure one cannot know what it is not.

Lazy Lavender said...


Well, your questions would be valid, if I had missed the "just" in my statements. Here you go,
"Of course it is a building, but is it just that?" - No mention whatsoever of it not being a building. I didn't think I'd need to explain further. But here, there are millions of buildings around the world. Did they all become wonders? It's unique in its own way, and is described as "great" and hence it gets the hype. (And by saying this, I don't mean that the other buildings are not unique. Please don't pick on that). Eiffel tower is a building; Love is an emotion; Both get some hype.

The ruling emotion is ego, I don't deny that. And agreed that other emotions get derived from it. But ego, the concept of the self, is for the self. When one talks about involving people in numbers greater than 1, ego doesn't act alone. It is followed by respect and regard, or dislike and hatred. And when it comes to keeping people together, in harmony, it has to be one of the former, the non-hostile ones; and "love" certainly ranks high under that category.

Well, the emotions, 'respect' 'like' 'hate' etc etc are pretty clear, to understand, feel, etc. Whereas 'love' is not; and that would be the reason for the hype it has gained. With the belief that it's the single emotion that will make everyone's life better hanging around in the minds of men, the hype comes as no surprise.

Friendship, love etc., of course have a reason; can there be anything without a reason whether or not it is sound? If I were to discuss friendship, I'd ask you to define it first. Let's stick to love. And I'd like to take love as a whole, including the platonic, within-siblings, within-friends, everything.
Is the feeling not something that is based on what we want and what we have, thus creating the asset we are willing to barter?
It could be; but it could also be based on what we like; on what we think a person should have; This could be put under the category of "what we want to see in a person"; a want again. Is it a barter system if I love a person for what he is, not expecting him/her to do anything for me? Clarify this point, as I thought a trade meant one had to "give" something and "get" something. Because if I love the person for just what he is, he isn't "giving" me anything by being himself; he's just being himself.

Another place where you missed the "just" - "What it actually is, is beyond my comprehension. But I know enough to say that it is not just what the post says." I don't deny the expectation, want, desire help building love. But they're not the only ones that do. You have explained one way of looking at love; it is not all.

What is beyond my comprehension? The concept of 'love' extended from ( - infinity) to ( + infinity), covering all the intervals, as one whole entity. I see one narrow interval of it; you see one; there's some overlapping; and some parts are disjoint. The definitions are not faulty, but they are not complete either. It doesn't matter whether or not we accept the others view.

If one does not know what it is, then for sure one cannot know what it is not.
If anything, I can lay an emphasis again on "just".

Suchitra said...

There may not be the concept of the perfect coffee for everyone, although, everyone has the concept of a perfect coffee.

There are two issues here:
1. Is there any such thing as the perfect coffee that can be brewed to utmost perfection?
2. Can the coffee I make be to your taste and vice versa, with 100% satisfaction on both sides? I mean, what if I just prefer tea?

Rajaraman said...

We have always gloried something which we wanted to retain umquestioned eternally.For wg the gods,hte affwxtion of mother, father and friends.So love is one such thing.If we look at it closely they come out more out of selfishness than intentional or spontanoious.
A boy wants to possess a girl and the girl if she likes him wants to posses him.One achieved she wants to retain him. so she binds him with all soets of affection and at times it becomes pestering.
So is devine and all blah blah are in my opinion a man made myth to control the uncontrollable events