IRC is an atheist! He is an Eklavyan disciple of the formidable DD (Richard Dawkins to the uninitiated, author of the seminal best seller, The God Delusion). Now I haven’t read DD’s books and though ‘I believe’, and it would take more than a mere book to shake my faith, I fear I might like him. But that’s not the point of this story. The point is DD, I’m told, is a much married man and any man who finds it difficult to stay in love would also find it difficult to believe in love. And only a man who does not believe in love would, therefore, refuse to believe in God. This argument has been my fig leaf whenever IRC has me cornered with loaded logic and I feel the weight of cold unfeeling science on the delicate fabric of my faith.
Love and God are similar concepts, not in the Bollywoodian sense of one leading the seeker to the other but because both are a consequence of personal experience; impossible to prove to others through the pseudo scientific process of experimentation, extrapolation and observation and yet either is as clear as Diane Kruger’s complexion under the soft light of a setting South African sun to the believer and the beloved. It’s a bit like the way Cartier-Bresson saw poetry etched in his maid’s wrinkled hands, or the way Patty Jenkins had the temerity to find an Oscar winning monster in the angelic eyes of Charlize Theron. If you don’t have the eye, or the heart for it, you just wont see it.
DD might say that like God, love too is a mere delusion. But someone would only say that if they haven’t really been in love. And love is not just lust. It isn’t a crush. It isn’t a habit. And it isn’t that rush you get every time you see him/her walk past and flash a smile, or whatever else, that makes your heart skip a beat and makes you wonder, ‘what’s he/she like in…?’
So what really is love, you ask? And how might I know, you wonder? So here are my answers. To begin with, like God, love too is different things to different people. So I can only tell you about love as I see it. DD would tell you why he does not believe in ou his God and I can only tell you why I believe in my love.
If you are happy and fulfilled, you already know what I have to say. You needn’t read a word more. But just in case you are wondering if the person you’re with is right for you, or not; is someone you never really loved, or maybe you did; is someone you cant live with because you married someone else; is because you are head over heels in love, or are matters a litter more basic; is someone who gives you that same tingling feeling that someone else did long ago but doesn’t anymore, so what does that mean, then read on, for I might have answers to questions you are too scared to ask.
There are six rules, or conditions that need to be fulfilled before you can truly claim to be in love. And all these conditions need to be fulfilled simultaneously and the absence of even one would suggest that what you share/ or hope to share could be a lot of wonderful things, but it sure ain’t love. So brace yourselves folks, for here comes the truth, as I know it… Rule 1: Am I inspired enough to want to become a better man (or woman)?
Robbie Williams was a little vague about this but I’m going to spell this out for you… If a relationship doesn’t make you want to be a better person, then it really isn’t meant to be. And it should consistently remain so all through your life together, for love to last. Otherwise, you are just together because it has become a habit too tough to kick, or because of the kids, or because you don’t have a better alternative. Whatever it is, it isn’t love.
Allow me to explain this… I’m not just talking about the day when you struggled to hold back a burp on your first dinner date. No, no this is about things far deeper. I’m talking about waiting for someone you think you love for half an hour during the hour long lunchbreak in college… Waiting till you wonder where she might be and so you walk into her class room. You see her playing HOLLYWOOD (you remember that silly game about guessing movie names..) on the black board with the coolest guy on campus. Standing there watching her laugh and play, you realize you have choices to make… you know that she loves being with you but today she forgot about meeting you. She didn’t mean to, but this guy was making her laugh and he seemed to have so many interesting things to say. She’s obviously having a great time. She only has to look at her watch and realised how late it is and she would run outside to meet you. And then she would see you there… And that’s when the multiple choice question pops up in your head. Do you get angry and blame her for keeping you waiting? In a fi t of jealous rage, do you suggest that she was perhaps being unfaithful? Or do you sulk and act hurt and mope about like a wet puppy, hoping that her guilt will keep her away from that Don Juan and that dumb game? Or do you just smile and hug her and tell her how happy you are to see her (which of course you are), and then make a mental note that says “I’ve got to be the wittiest, most interesting guy she has ever met so that when I’m not around, and DJ wants to play Hollywood, she could play to humour him a little but all she wants to do is go back to her book so she could day dream about me, waiting to run into my arms when I show up!”
If she really is someone you love, someone who makes you feel good about yourself the way no one else can, someone you respect and look up to then you’ve got to put a tick on option four.
Personally, I can only love those who inspire me. Whether the relationship is of a romantic nature or otherwise, an emotionally intimate bond between two adults is impossible without respect. It isn’t physical attraction or chance and circumstance or convenience that should’ve ideally brought you and your partner together. It should ideally have been respect and admiration.
That ensures that you are together for the right reasons. Approval from the object of our admiration is one of our greatest motivators that can inspire an individual to evolve and grow into a better person.
So if your partner inspires you to become better you have chosen to love well. But how do you know you are growing in the right direction?
Well, here’s the important aspect of rule 1. If you are always the one getting inspired and failing to inspire in turn, then you really aren’t growing much. Your relationship in that case has regressed into a master slave relationship. Instead of growing you are actually appeasing the one you think you love. You’ve been lazy about working on yourself and have only made changes on the surface. Deep down, you’re still the same and so you depend on pretence. It is unfair to you and even more so to your partner.
I’ve said this earlier and I’ll say it again. An ideal relationship is like a dance where one partner leads and the other follows, and then grows to lead while it is the other’s turn to follow and so they keep evolving, inspiring each other to become better partners, lovers, friends and human beings.
If that isn’t happening, you both have questions to ask of yourself. I would love to tell you more, but space, unlike in our hearts is a constraint. So work on rule 1 while I road test rules 2-6 before delivering them to you next week…