Love songs are everywhere. But does anyone have a definition of love, which — people claim — makes the world go around? Sure, it’s easy to tell when you’re in love with someone. [The heart pounds and you act like an idiot.] But it’s much harder to say if you actually love someone.
Enter the mind of Harry Jenkins, as he is about to make love to Natasha,
And then he laughed at himself as he sank beneath the covers. No sane man would question such free and voluptuous pleasure, as if it could only be valued through thought. Only an idiot or a fool would try to analyze love and passion.
Nonetheless, like the fool, I seek a definition. Perhaps it is the lawyer in me. On the subject of love, Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, is a sobering read. All of us, supposedly, carry within us, an animus [if you’re female] and an anima [if you’re male], which is the idealized image of the person you love. And so, when you are in love you are projecting this idealized image on a real, live person who might be naturally quite entitled to be different.
After the honeymoon, those annoying little cracks in the image appear, which could certainly explain the high divorce rate. When you find the real person doesn’t exactly match your superimposed ideal, what do you do?
All of these thoughts led me to explore people’s ideas of all kinds of love, not just the romantic variety, in Final Paradox, the second in The Osgoode Trilogy.
Harry Jenkins is the lawyer protagonist throughout the trilogy, which contain story lines of murder and fraud. He is in the thrall of the beautiful Natasha. His aging father, who abandoned him as a child, has just asked his forgiveness. Harry can’t seem to find that in his heart. Natasha asks him—
What do you think love is?
He shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s about wanting someone as part of your life. Wanting them always with you.” He looked into her eyes. “Why? What do you think?”
“I think it’s about getting outside yourself and seeing another person’s life from their point of view. At least that’s a start,” Natasha replied.
Harry heard his father’s words. It’s all about you, is it? Would he always be the kid, he wondered?
Another character musing about love is Norma Dinnick — an elderly client of Harry’s who trips back and forth between lucidity and madness. She recollects her stew of feelings for various men.
Going back to her hotel, Norma tried to understand. She knew about affection and caring from Arthur, her husband, who kept her safe from the emptiness. But she did not understand this business of love, which David talked about. She did know that such emotions gave her a sense of power. The sheer lust she experienced in the presence of George made her feel weak and vulnerable.
Norma simply doesn’t understand about love and neither does Bronwyn — another character. An embittered soul, she has married a gay man and on her honeymoon – She wandered the narrow beach of sand and stone where the boats ferried back and forth to the grottos. No Peter. But then she saw him at a distance on the beach walking slowly with a younger man she did not know. Where had they come from? Right from the start, she had known. Of course, the bargain was unspoken, but well understood. For money and security, Bronwyn had sacrificed any chance for love.
But in the end, Harry does begin to get it. In bed with the lovely Natasha, he was
…transported outside his own body, he was overcome with the desire to know the dreams, fantasies and mysteries she held within. He would enter her world with love and understanding and never leave. The awe he felt in her closeness made his breathing slow and deepen in rhythm with hers. He watched his hand reach out of the shadows to smooth the sheet. She was at last in his bed and, fearing a mirage, he dared not wake her. In the past two weeks, his world had been shaken. His mind had become a jumble of colliding, conflicting events and consequences. Now he felt her power to draw his life together. A still peace gently settled over him like a silken web of meaning.
(Reprinted from Final Paradox by Mary E. Martin with permission).