I took today off from writing the novel. I hit 25,000 words yesterday and was needed a break. I have to regroup a bit, figure out what the second half will be and how to move forward with it…the protagonist needs someone to interact with, but plot-wise, I don’t think I can allow that, so…I’ll beat my head against that wall tomorrow night.
Instead, I watched Before Midnight, the third of the “Before” movies by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I loved the first two movies, and at times can actually call Before Sunrise my favorite movie. It was born of that wonderful period int he early 90’s when indy films exploded and movies about people talking could actually be released in theaters and make enough money that they would release more of them.
I’m sure other people will focus on other aspects of the movie, but with my particular circumstances and relationship history, there was a particular sequence and theme that hammered home to me.
Jesse (Ethan Hawke’s character) talks about how he can only give Unconditional Love to Celine.
It’s a hard concept, unconditional love. I have known a lot of people who claim that they love unconditionally, but most of the time, there are conditions, just not so present.
I love you because you are pretty
I love you because you are a kind person
I love you because you care so much about me
I love you because you are family
I love you because you are such a good mother/father
I love you….
If there is a because, it’s not unconditional.
And the corollary of that is: I love you Until. We all have known someone who turns out not to be what they appeared, or made choices that make ti impossible to be around them.
What if that person changes? People can get ground down by life, physically, emotionally, intellectually or many other ways. That statistics around people staying together are devastating. Half of all marriages end in divorce, and what people people who choose not to get married? Do we even know those statistics? Couples who go through certain events have even higher rates of splitting up, such as a child dying, a long illness, mental illness, and the like make it harder.
I was in a relationship a while back, and one of my friends asked if I loved this woman, who was pretty, smart, artistic and fascinating if I loved her unconditionally. I thought about it for a while and finally had to say “No.”
Why? Because, there were conditions. That we stay together, that her tendency to be casually cruel no be turned on me, that she not give in to her dark cynicism.
Does that make me a horrible person?
It is a struggle, even now to live up to the phrase “unconditional love.”
I try. When I decide that I do love someone, not just romantic love, but familial love, love of a treasured friendship, and so many others, I work to make it unconditional. To understand that people are complex, that they have faults, or that things change.
I also don’t say “I love you” as much as I used to. I’m much more guarded. I hold it because I can’t say it unless it is unconditional. And, I struggle with that. I struggle because unconditional love is risky. You can get hurt. Sometimes hurt so bad it knocks you to the ground and you struggle to give enough of a damn to get up.
So, I’m more careful.
But, when I love, I try, so very, very hard, to be unconditional about it.
No strings attached.