in a recent exchange with a close friend of mine, she mentioned someone asked her something to the effect, “how do you know when someone wants you?” to which, i am sure, many will respond, “you can just tell.” i accept this response, but i don’t fully subscribe to it because there is almost something bayesian about it. consider this, several illnesses have the same symptoms, why should i believe then it’s love simply because someone looks at me in a certain way. when you really think about it, the look in the eyes of a stranger who wants you, is the look in the eyes of a friend who wants you. yes, really. there is a difference between wanting someone and being in love with someone. i am no expert on love or other people’s feelings, i can only talk about what i have experienced, and i have been fortunate to meet some amazing women. women who brought me bliss while demanding nothing in return. women who stripped love of its many layers and showed me its purest essence – a sigh. women who showed me, love, simply is, about preserving life. these women are my referents in this piece – so, there shall be no bewildering theories applied or unrealistic quotations on love mouthed. and my take on this is not universal because, though the truest essence of love is the same, no two love experiences are ever the same. all i know is this, a whole lot of the things we approximate with love aren’t about love. when you’re in love, i will not desecrate the way you know love by saying ‘when you’re truly in love,’ the major phenomena of life cease to exist. some call this madness, i call it the preservation of life. here’s why.
when you were striving after every success you’ve had in life, did you think of death. the same is true of love. being in love is the only time you accept fate – not in the traditional sense. someone could be shooting people dead across the street and your loved one is somewhere next street. all you’ll be thinking is “if i do this, i will get to her/him” you’re not thinking of death. i say this because to think of death in this situation would be, for me, to think “what if i get shot?” this question can only be concerned about preserving yourself for someone else who you don’t have to die for. to think this, is to think collateral damage – love isn’t about collateral damage. when you’re thinking about what you’ll have and won’t have when you choose to be with someone, you’re thinking about yourself – it means you know you don’t have to be with the person. you can have all you want without being with this person. love is simply, the acceptance of someone (flaws and all) who represents the preservation of life. someone to whom your life is worth preserving and vice versa.
when you are in love with someone, you accept the inevitability of birth and death, but not as fate. fate is a strange and curious phenomenon that doesn’t go with being in love. here is one of the ironies of belief in fate – you’ve just received a call that your house is on fire and your child is trapped inside it. let’s assume you have a car – you rush into your car and speed off to save the child from dying, but though you feel the need to save the child from dying, you’re scared of driving at 120 kilometers per hour – because you’re scared of dying. but you believe in fate. same situation, but here is love. “it will take me five minutes to get home. i need to be careful i don’t take other lives.” and you take off to save the child’s life. in fact, you won’t even think “i need to be careful i don’t take other lives.” your instinct to preserve life will guide you – but you’re not scared of losing your life to save the life of a child you love. here, death is only in the equation because of your wish to preserve life, not as a by/end product of fate. this is what love simply is – the preservation of life.
in love, you’re not fated to do the things you do for the one you love. whenever i think back to the moments i’ve done something for someone i love, i did not think of the consequences to me – or the preservation of my own life. call it reckless, call it foolhardy. you’re entitled to your opinion. but at all the moments in my life i have thought of what it would matter if i did or did not do something for someone, i realized at those moments i am not in love with the person for whom i was doing those things. when those women did the things they did for me, none of them thought “no one else will help him if i don’t” to do this would have meant, on their part, they were fated to do it, and this isn’t love because the subtext of that thought is, “i saved him.” love should never be about you being the one (fated) to preserve another’s life. if it is, you’re collecting accolades. love collects no accolades.
so, how do you know someone wants you. how do you know someone is in love with you. in my experience, it’s not in the eyes, it’s not in physical gestures, it is not in any gesture at all, but in things unspoken – a moment when you are in each other’s presence and you can hear all the sounds around you. a moment when something that has the potential to be explosive happens and you find yourselves breaking into laughter. it is when your lover lies down at the end of the day and you look at him/her, and in spite of all the vagaries of this world, in spite of all that stands in their way of being with you, in spite of all that bedevils them, he/she is not afraid to fall asleep (in your presence) knowing you won’t risk his/her life – knowing whatever happens, your first option is the preservation of his/her life. it is when your loved one has “dreamless” sleeps – like a pre-school child. for dreams are symbolic of a lack of something no matter how pleasant, and lovers, like pre-school children, don’t have dreams with mobile characters, lovers don’t have dreams that include themselves as active characters, lovers don’t have dreams with social interactions. but above all, lovers don’t have dreams with autobiographic or episodic memories, because lovers, like pre-school children have infantile amnesia – like a child with a loving mother. so, you know it’s love the moment you feel the connection reminiscent of that between a mother and her son. let’s not digress by arguing the relationship between a father and a daughter. let’s just consider – mother can be the man, son can be the woman. it doesn’t matter who is the mother or who is the son. some “mothers” and some “sons” don’t know why history gave us mary and jesus, so they drift apart. but the truest essence of love is the preservation of life – like the connection between mother and son. sigh!