“Love is a many splendid thing…”
It is true that love is splendid. It is a magical gift of evolution that we humans get to feel love. That we can recognize and choose love is, I would argue, our greatest asset. It has helped our species survive these many millennia. Recently I listened to a podcast about the new age of marriage. One part of the show that stuck with me was something one of the experts being interviewed said. He used this quote from the movie Sideways:
“(Pinot)…it’s a hard grape to grow, as you know. Right? It’s uh, it’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s, you know, it’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and… ancient on the planet.”
It’s a beautiful quote. In fact, this movie may have single-handedly rocketed the price of Pinot with this one quote. Impressive. The podcast used this quote about grapes as an analogy for marriage. There was a time when marriage served a purpose, that is all. Often arranged it very rarely involved love. In the times that many lived on homesteads marriage was simply a survival tactic especially for women who had few other opportunities to provide for themselves. Marriage used to be more like Cabernet, was the point they made in the show. Practical, tough, needing very little in the way of love and attention.
Now, though, with the rise of industry and modern convenience and some semblance of equality between men and women, we marry for love. Now, marriage is Pinot. It is hard to grow and needs constant care. But I would propose (pun intended) that it’s not the marriage that needs the constant care. It’s the love. Love is a many splendid thing, indeed, but if becoming a parent has taught me anything it’s that love is hard. It is not effortless or easy. Whether it’s the love between partners, love between a parent and child, love between siblings, love between friends, it all takes patience. It takes time to understand how to love.
There are days when I feel nothing but frustration toward my partner or my child or myself. There are days when I feel too tired for anything resembling nurture or attention. There are days when I cannot take the time to understand my relationships, to coax them into a full expression of anything. I just can’t. But in the gardening world stormy weather is good for the crops. It infuses the earth with minerals pulled down by the rain from the dark clouds to the soil below. The garden loves a storm. The storm nurtures even the smallest seed.
And so we have love. A hard choice to make sometimes. An imperfect trait of ours to help us move through life. And it may take us down a frightening path, to rocky, tucked away places. But still, it is the most “haunting and brilliant” gift we can give to ourselves and to others. It is a gift I work hard to give my partner and my daughter and myself every day. It’s my choice. To love them.
So, all you need is love? Maybe. But such a simple expression is so packed with complexity. And that is exactly what makes it so splendid.
Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. Choose love!