Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

Love Part 23: incredible, pathetic, inspiring, sad and weird American stories

After reading these amazing stories you might agree with Thomas Ouk that love is “not easy to find,” which is what Aristotle and Montaigne said. Or you might agree with 86 year old Fred White that “true love exists. If you make it. It’s a true thing if you make it true.” He was married to Helen 65 years, through the long distance of the Korean War. Or you might agree with Brigitte Aiton that most relationships are “a life of quiet desperation” where “you just keep moving forward,” even though you secretly hate each other—which sounds like Pascal. Or you might agree with Aubrey Reuben (76), who had a great marriage, yet still says “Most husbands hate their wives, and most wives hate their husbands. Or, worse…they’re indifferent.”

Some of these stories are sad. Real sad. Like Russell Gore, who went from gang-member and hustler, saying “Love?...I didn’t care about love!” to saying “That’s what love do—make you want to live…make you want to see your next birthday” and “I don’t think I’ve ever been in love like that before.” He fell in love with “Cynth,” who died in his arms as Katrina filled their house with water. She died of a heart attack. “I stayed with her, a day and a half, dead.” When he finally got rescued, he went straight to where she worked, “I was waiting for her to come out like she was getting out of work. But she never come.” He was devastated:

“I just recently learned how to not cry so much. Because my wife is with me every day of my life…that’s the only thing that keeps me on the straight and narrow and keeps me doing what I’m doing, because one day I’m gonna meet her again.”

Or Steven Hager, who heard the pump of a shotgun from the closet. It was his wife trying to kill herself. He stuck with her. It happened four more times. She was in pain. She went from a “vibrant, intelligent, fun-loving” super bright lawyer, to someone who fell off a roof, with unbearable, unfixable pain for 18 years. “I felt like it was my job to stop her, but at the same time, I felt like I was prolonging the suffering. I had mixed emotions and mixed beliefs…” Even though “God had put us together,” “He’d given her “something she couldn’t handle.” Eighteen years later (surgery), “my wife was healed…her being able to sleep at night is an amazing thing…she’s enjoying life.”

There is tons of wisdom in these stories, collective wisdom, often reflecting the wisdom of the love-writers I’ve been blogging about. Steven Hager says “I think love is basically about action, about doing something for a person. It’s about choices…She has often said to me, ‘Thanks for sticking with me.’ But that wasn’t a choice. We have a family and we’re committed to each other.”

Marty Edwards says love is about “want, not need.” Samantha Wright says it’s about listening: “When he’s listening to me, he’s really listening with his whole being.” Paul Pesce says it’s about agreeing and giving, “give in to the other.” Kathy Barrett says it’s friendship that kept them together, others think it’s the intellectual connection, but Rebecca Danier thinks it’s about sex: “if you have a good sex life with somebody, there’s a fundamental respect for that person.” Bill Von Hunsdorf says it’s more about having someone around, a physical presence, a person to acknowledge your existence—what Simon May calls “existential grounding.” For Jeremy Vanhaitsma love is about experiencing God: “My definition of love has always been that God is love…The way that I’ve experienced love has radically changed since I met Anne because I never knew that I’d ever be able to experience the fullness of the Father’s love.”

The people who said “we never fought” usually had a sense of humor.

And then there are the bizarre/sad stories, like the man in love with his wife’s sister who lives about them, the couple who fall in loving doing meth together, the lesbian who marries a super-macho born again Republican, the Buddhist monk who was forced to marry someone at the point of a gun (even they sorta fell in love!).

Related Posts
Love Part 1: Platonic Love
Love Part 2: Aristotle
Love Part 3: Epictetus and stoic love 
Love Part 4: Marcus Aurelius
Love Part 5: Plotinus 
Love Part 6: the Buddha
Love Part 7: Christian Love
Love Part 8: Augustine
Love Part 9: Martin Luther King, Jr
Love Part 10: Aquinas 
Love Part 11: Dante
Love Part 12: a Real Love Letter
Love Part 13: Chaucer 
Love Part 14: Hobbes
Love Part 15: Machiavelli 
Love Part 16: Montaigne
Love Part 17: Bacon
Love Part 18: Spinoza
Love Part 19: Your Body
Love Part 20: Milton
Love Part 21: Pascal 
Love Part 22: Locke

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Us Americans talk about love
9780865479296
MattS
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