Fools for Love

cafekiss30Sidewalk Cafe by Cartier-Bresson

Fools for Love

Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others…
And your very flesh shall be a great poem…

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Thou gifest me such hope and courage, and I haf nothing to gif back but a full heart and these empty hands,” cried the Professor, quite overcome.
Jo never, never would learn to be proper, for when he said that as they stood upon the steps, she just put both hands into his, whispering tenderly, “Not empty now,” and stooping down, kissed her Friedrich under the umbrella.
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things niceit ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit.
Ronny Cammareri in Moonstruck, screenplay by John Patrick Shanley

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baileydanceth20Dance by G.R. Naidoo

This page is dedicated to stubborn dreamers and fools for love. This love may be romantic or plutonic, life-long or just beginning. It may be for your partner or your grandmother, your best friend or your favorite four-legged, for your art or for an ecosystem or all of the above and more. Maybe you’ve forgotten to put yourself on that list. Maybe you’re thinking you don’t want anything to do with love—your heart may be in bits. Maybe it hurts so badly you think you can’t go on. It isn’t so. It may take some time—you may need to sit a spell and lick your wounds, figure out what happened and what you learned from it, but it will heal. Let’s celebrate that, too.

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Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

“Corrie…, do you know what hurts so very much?  It’s love.  Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked, that means pain.  There are two things we can do when this happens.  We can kill the love so that it stops hurting.  But then of course part of us dies , too.  Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.

God loves Karel—even more than you do—and if you ask Him, He will give you his love for this man, a love nothing can prevent, nothing destroy.  Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us the perfect way.”

I did not know, as I listened to Father’s footsteps winding back down the stairs, that he had given me more than the key to this hard moment.  I did not know that he had put into my hands the secret that would open far darker rooms than this—places where there was not, on a human level, anything to love at all.  I was still in kindergarten in these matters of love.  My task just then was to give up my feeling for Karel without giving up the joy and wonder that had grown with it.

And so, that very hour, lying there on my bed, I whispered the enormous prayer:  ‘Lord, I give to you the way I feel about Karel, my thoughts about our future—oh, You know!  Everything!  Give me your way of seeing Karel instead.  Help me to love him that way.  That much.”

Corrie ten Boom and her father’s comforting remarks, after she discovered the man she loved was engaged to another woman.  She went on to survive the concentration camps during WW2, sent there because she’d assisted Jews in their escape from the Germans.

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Perspectives

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak—because some day you will have been all of these.
George Washington Carver

Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.

William Blake, The Clod and the Pebble

Maggie: Define love.
Sam: Why?
Maggie: Because every other word out of your mouth is “love” and I’d like to know what it is, this magical ideal of yours. Define it.
Sam: Well, I don’t know, it’s like, like all of your life you walk around with this emptiness in your stomach, like you’re completely hollow. And if you’re in love, you feel, well, full. Not hollow anymore.
Maggie: Not hollow. That’s it? That’s all?
Sam: No—it… It’s like… without it, there’s nothing, a shell, a cavernous emptiness.
Maggie rolls her eyes.
Sam: Forget it. You can’t define it.
Maggie: When I was a kid, my father had this dog. It started to get all weak and sickly so he took it to the vet. The doctor examines it and says that a maggot must have laid eggs in the dog’s butt. The vet says there isn’t much they can do, the baby maggots have crawled up and now they’ve started to grow, and eventually they’re going to eat the dog alive from the inside out.
Maggie eats her hot dog. Sam refrains, disgusted.
Maggie: They say it should be put to sleep, old dog anyway… But Father won’t do it. He takes it home, puts it on his bed and starts to reach up into the dog, picking out the maggots with his fingers one by one. Takes him all night, but he gets every last one. Dog outlived my father… That’s love Sam.
Sam studies Maggie for a moment.
Sam: You’re not that tough, Maggie. I can tell, you’re not that tough. (Pauses.) And you can pretty much forget about a career with Hallmark…

Addicted to Love, screenplay by Robert Gordon

When the rain comes,
I’ll hold my umbrella more over you than over me.
When the rain comes,
we’ll go indoors and sit and talk over good hot tea…
As long as it takes this rain to end…
Much longer than that, I’ll be your friend.

Hallmark card

Isn’t it wonderful? So many faces! Mary did it, George! Mary did it! She told some people you were in trouble and then, they scattered all over town collecting money. They didn’t ask any questions—just said: “If George is in trouble, count me in…”
It’s a Wonderful Life, screenplay by Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett and Frank Capra

He never shot over a bird, and wild-fowlers were not welcome near his premises. He was a friend to all things wild, and the wild things repaid him with their friendship… Many hundreds came and remained with him all through the cold weather from October to the early spring, when they migrated north again to their breeding-grounds below the ice rim. Rhayader was content in the knowledge that when storms blew, or it was bitter cold and food was scarce, or the big punt guns of the distant bag hunters roared, his birds were safe; that he had gathered to the sanctuary and security of his own arms and heart these many wild and beautiful creatures who knew and trusted him. Paul Gallico, The Snow Goose

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Perspectives

But to see her was to love her,
Love but her, and love for ever.

Robert Burns, Ae Fond Kiss

Desire, even in its wildest tantrums, can neither persuade me it is love nor stop me from wishing it were.
W.H. Auden

One part of us seeks the freedom to be an individual, another part is always searching for someone or something to surrender our freedom to.
Nora Ephron, Heartburn

Our first day together was very like the one Anne and Lewis spent together in The Mandarins; embarrassment, impatience, misunderstanding, fatigue, and finally the intoxication of understanding.
Simone de Beauvoir, Force of Circumstance

You say I feel what is genuine and what is not, and I am very proud of your saying so.  I think I felt at once how genuine you were yourself, and it was the beginning of my liking you so much, and afterwards of my love for you.  All is genuine in you, words and behaviors, love and hate, pleasure, pain; your whole life is genuine.  And living  with you I felt genuine myself;  everything was all right because everything was true.
Simone de Beauvoir, A Transatlantic Love Affair,  letter to Nelson Algren, May 24, 1947

Sonny:  Did you ever sleep with him?
Norma Rae:  No, but he’s in my head.
Sonny:  I’m gonna see you through getting tired, sick, getting old, I’m going to see you through anything that comes up, cause there’s nobody in my head, just you…”

Norma Rae, screenplay by Harriet Frank Jr., Irving Ravetch

The Wind and Rain Bring Love
I cursed the rain for
Pounding upon my roof and
Driving away sleep.
I cursed the wind
For ravaging my garden.
Then you entered; and I gave thanks
To the rain because you must put off
Your wet dress; and I gave thanks
To the wind
That he came and blew out my lamp.

Chang Wu-chien, translated by Alan Simms Lee
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Love in Deed
It’s a pet peeve—when people toss off I love you’s when there is no love or even consideration in their actions. Sometimes we accept it anyway—the dishonest, inauthentic, mediocre. Maybe we’re afraid not to—we don’t like confrontation or don’t want to be alone. Sometimes we have come to expect so little from life, from ourselves, from others, that we begin to think rote gestures and clichéd phrases are love. We buy into synthetic appearances—like genetically-engineered food that looks good and ships well but tastes awful.

And I was thinking about how often a kind or humorous comment or even a smile by a friend or stranger has turned a bad day around for me. Yet when I am upset or afraid, and carrying these feelings around like cumbersome necessities, I’ll miss or ignore the simplest opportunities for kindness. Here are some thoughts on love in deed.

Let us not love in word, but in deed and in truth. I John 3:18

Too late I understood
That love is not in the blood,
But in every simple kindness I denied
To those to whom I owed humanity,
Just because they were day by day beside me.

Kathleen Raine, The Oracle in the Heart

Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others . . .
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

And here is an excerpt from the wonderful play The Weir, by the Irish playwright, Conor McPherson. It embodies the idea of love via conscious, simple kindness.

I just kept walking. There was a light rain. I just kept walking. And then I was in town… And I ducked into a pub. Little dark place. Just one or two others there. A businesslike barman… And I put a pint or two away. And a small one or two. And I sat there, just looking down at the dirty wooden bar. And the barman asked me if I was alright? Simple little question. And I said I was. And he said he’d make me a sandwich. And I said okay. And I nearly started cryingbecause, you know, here was someone just… and I watched him.
He took two big slices off a fresh loaf and buttered them carefully, spreading it all around. I’ll never forget it. And then he sliced some cheese and cooked ham and an onion out of a jar, and put it all on a plate and sliced it down the middle. And, just someone doing this for me. And putting it down in front of me. ‘Get that down you now,’ he said. And then he folded up his newspaper and put on his jacket and went off on his break. And there was another barman then.
And I took this sandwich up and I could hardly swallow it, because of the lump in my throat. But I ate it all down because someone I didn’t know had done this for me. Such a small thing. But a huge thing in my condition. It fortified me, like no meal I ever had in my life.

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I used to think my life
Was often empty
A lonely space to fill
You hurt me more than
I ever would have imagined
You made my world stand still
And in that stillness
There was a freedom
I never felt before…

Sarah McLachlan, Plenty

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