Comments on This Statement About Love?

Sunni's picture

I recently stumbled across a quotation I’d written on a slip of paper some time ago. I didn’t record any reference along with it, so I don’t know where I encountered this statement by Ferdinand Protzman on love. Since reading it, it’s occupied a fair amount of space in my mind ... but I can’t really compose a well-crafted summation of my responses to it.

Anyone who cares to share their responses is welcome to do so in the comments. I’ll join in, as I can: much of my day will be spent in the kitchen, making truffles and caramels. Here’s the quote:

Love can alter people’s lives in positive ways .... It can also break their hearts, crush their spirits, and kill them.

One thing that occurred to me is that we never know where our loving someone might go; even when love starts out as a positive thing, it can lead to enormous pain.

Risk

Opening yourself up to love entails risk. And yes, sometimes it can hurt a great deal. Believe me, I've been there. I have been hurt greatly by both friends and lovers. But if you wall yourself off, never put yourself at risk, life can be so empty. As much as I have been hurt by opening up myself up to love, I'll risk it again because to me, a life without love is not worth living.

I will counter your quote with two other quotes:

To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
-unknown

and

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
-Dalai Lama

re: love

(Good grief, I've started to comment three different ways! Where DO you start? )

There is a good side and a bad side to everything. Why would anyone think that love would be any different?

Tisk, Tisk, Risk

Just like in investing, in all life the greater the risk the greater the potential payoff. Risk nothing, lose nothing, but also gain nothing.

The reason we risk pain for love is because sometimes it pays off, and then it is well worth it.

The guy with the white hat is a myth

Yes, love can lead to pain; in most instances, love without a side of pain is a rare thing. Love can also lead to joy, thanksgiving, anger, jealousy, rejoicing, humor, patience, impatience and a thousand other emotions.

Our character grows and matures through the loveliness and hard lumps we gather along the way. Love is no different.

I think that Mr. Protzman's quote, while elegant, is a bit flawed. The down side of love can only squash us if we let it. Does it mean it doesn't hurt? No. Does it mean it's not extremely painful and a bitch of a mountain to climb? No. Only we can close up shop, shutter the blinds and refuse the sunlight, however. Maimed doesn't mean dead. It means injured and recovering.

Love and risk and value

Interesting comments, everyone; thanks. I am a little bemused that what is on its face a straightforward statement has elicited some objection. Since I didn’t write down the entire quotation, what is lurking in the space those ellipsis points represent becomes all the more intriguing to me.

In sharing the quote I didn’t mean to suggest that I thought love is not worth pursuing, so the focus on risk is a little surprising to me. And where did the idea that “the greater the risk, the greater the potential payoff” come from, anyway? The relationship holds at the zero point on such a graph, but I strongly doubt the relationship is linear all the way through ...

Nedda wrote:

(Good grief, I've started to comment three different ways! Where DO you start? )

There is a good side and a bad side to everything. Why would anyone think that love would be any different?

I’m laughing, because that is precisely the question I asked myself when I first sat down to write this post. And it occurred to me that perhaps I wouldn’t have believed all those romantic love songs I adored when I was younger (and still do), if someone had pointed this out to me. I wanted to believe the myth of “true love is forever”, and they really encouraged that view. And maybe it is true, in a way ... I still love my ex-husband in some ways, although I know better than to think we could reconcile and be happy.

But if someone had made this observation to me as a young, impressionable teen, I think I might have been a little more cautious about entering the tricky arena of eros. Well, I like to tell myself that, anyway—probably I wouldn’t’ve. It seems to me that, just like matter-of-fact discussions about sex and its myriad repercussions (well beyond the mechanics/biology of the endeavor), a more balanced discussion of love might help a lot of people.

Lewlew wrote:

I think that Mr. Protzman's quote, while elegant, is a bit flawed. The down side of love can only squash us if we let it. Does it mean it doesn't hurt? No. Does it mean it's not extremely painful and a bitch of a mountain to climb? No. Only we can close up shop, shutter the blinds and refuse the sunlight, however. Maimed doesn't mean dead. It means injured and recovering.

Maybe I’m reading too much in to your words, but I took his second sentence in a much broader context than you seem to have. Pain from love can originate in a breakup, sure, but in other ways as well: unrequited love, or the pain that comes with the death of a loved one. I don’t have a citation or link to hand, but I recall reading about more than study that has shown how individuals “shut down”—emotionally as well as physically—after the death of a spouse or child. A recent one documented a spike in cancer diagnoses within a year after a loved one’s death ... perhaps the emotional stress brings about biological changes that contributes to cancer.

In any case, I don’t think Mr. Protzman was suggesting any particular course of action should follow from his statement. My guess is I found that quote in a publicity piece for his photography book on love. I’ve never been one to buy such books, but I am seriously tempted by his. And I really like a snippet on that page—don’t know whether it’s his words, or someone else’s:

Love rules everyone, with or without our consent, exercising immense power to bring goodness and joy, evil and sorrow, and everything in between, sometimes all at once. It touches us from before we are born until we die. So great is love’s reach that its absence can be felt as acutely as its presence.

Maybe I’m reading too much

Maybe I’m reading too much in to your words, but I took his second sentence in a much broader context than you seem to have. Pain from love can originate in a breakup, sure, but in other ways as well: unrequited love, or the pain that comes with the death of a loved one. I don’t have a citation or link to hand, but I recall reading about more than study that has shown how individuals “shut down”—emotionally as well as physically—after the death of a spouse or child. A recent one documented a spike in cancer diagnoses within a year after a loved one’s death ... perhaps the emotional stress brings about biological changes that contributes to cancer.

No, I was thinking, precisely, about all the different ways love can lead to pain, some of which you point out above. One of the most devastating situations, the death of a loved one, is a bullet no one can dodge. That is, unless she chooses to have absolutely no relationship with any live creature.

I do think people shut down after a loved one's death. I do think there's an extended time of grief, puzzlement, pain. It can't go on forever in a healthy person, in my opinion. People who choose to close the curtain to living, after experiencing paramount pain make a choice. It may be a subconscious choice at first, but I do believe after a while the people who choose to maintain such a lifestyle do so consciously. Maybe they've grown comfortable with such a lifestyle. Maybe they're terrified of feeling such intense pain again. But it still boils down to a choice.

I do think people shut down

I do think people shut down after a loved one's death. I do think there's an extended time of grief, puzzlement, pain. It can't go on forever in a healthy person, in my opinion.

As a professional hospice nurse, and one who has lost a dearly beloved husband to death, I can tell you that the possible and even the "normal" reaction to such loss is as infinite as is the scope of human feelings and experience.

There is no one "right" time, way or expression for this loss, this grief, this emotional train wreck... and not even much of a "normal range." Trying to say when the normal reaction branches off into unhealthy and destructive behavior can really only be determined by the people involved. And yes, some people cling to the dysfunction and pain, refusing every possible avenue of healing or closure - for whatever reason.

And, even after years of otherwise "normal" functioning and new relationships, such a loss can come back to bite if the right emotional and energy triggers are pulled. For me, at least, true healing came when I could recognize those triggers and let the negative energy depart from my system, once and for all.

Now I can take out his pictures, laugh and be grateful for the good times we had in the short 5 months he lived after our wedding. I'm still sad sometimes that he can't be with me now, but the pain has finally been dissolved into the universe and, if the opportunity ever comes along again, I'll be free to truly love again.

Shutting down and getting over it

Thanks for the clarification, lewlew. I agree with what Mama Liberty has said; trying to come up with a metric for what’s normal or typical in this area really isn’t possible, for many reasons. I do think there’s a period of obvious grieving, and usually one expects some kind of a return to normalcy following that ... but one’s life can’t be the same. There is—and will be for the rest of one’s life—a hole where that loved one was. So, even though I am well past the shutting down phase of both my parents’ deaths, and the pain too is behind me, I continue to feel their absence. As long as my mind functions somewhat normally, I think that will be the case. I honestly don’t know how it could be elsewise.

I apologize; I didn't mean to imply...

... that after a death of a loved one that one's life isn't changed forever. Yes, when you go through such a life experience, each of us brings a different style to our grief and deals with the pain in a personal, totally unique way. I did not mean to imply that there's only a few ways to deal with this life experience and that anything that deviates is not normal.

What I was trying to convey, which I did in such a poor manner, is that when a person stays permanently shut down (again, a manifestation that's completely unique and personal) that it's a choice he makes. It may not be conscious at first, but at some point I do believe it become a conscious choice of lifestyle.

Also, I think there's other love situations where people choose to shut down permanently: at the end of an intense romantic relationship; the end of a marriage; when a child chooses a path the parent doesn't agree with; when a pet passes on. Grieving is natural and necessary. Completely shutting down and remaining so eventually becomes a choice.

My turn to apologize

I have a bad habit of responding to something, but then wandering off into speculative brambles of my own, leaving individuals to mistakenly think I’m still referring to their words. I didn’t think you were saying that at all, lewlew.

And you’re right, staying shut down can become a habit and eventually, a life choice.