Honestly? This is going to be a long post, and it’s not going to end with adorable pics of Naomi. However, it is a little bit about Naomi, so here goes.
Yesterday evening, I met Naomi. She is the sweetest, tiniest little thing, and I love her. Which I told her at some length. But that’s actually the issue. She wasn’t even a week old when I met her for the very first time, and I had no trouble telling her I love her. I say it easily to my niece, my nephew, even my cat. But I rarely, if ever say it to adults. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of adults whom I love (or who I loved at one point), but with the exception of my mom, I never say it. I loved my friend Sondi and since she died I’ve wondered frequently if she knew it. After her funeral I promised myself I would make sure that I wouldn’t have to wonder if others know it, that I would learn to say “I love you”. But, I didn’t. I love my best friend. I love her parents. I love some of my other friends. There’s obviously no real reason for me to love Naomi. Honestly, there’s not really any reason for me to love Nataly or Nick, I just do. And I did from before I even laid eyes on them. So, why am I so willing to tell them, but not my friends?
Although I’ve never experienced “eros” love, that romantic love that is so often described as being in love, that’s more because I’ve actively avoided such a thing. But philia love (friendship) and storge love (familial) are both emotions I’m extremely familiar with. I wish the English language had those more precise words (like the Greek ones I’ve used). Actually, it reminds of something I thought about when I read The Giver. At one point Jonas asks his parents if they love him, and they reprimand him for imprecise use of language, that they are proud of him and they take pleasure in him, but that the word love has no meaning. I think, in English, in our culture, that’s actually true. Although people are shocked or outraged when Jonas’ parents say it, what does the word love really mean? People “love” things- new technology, furniture, houses, etc; ideas, the internet, TV shows, etc; activities like going for walks, swimming, etc. But don’t all of those uses cheapen the word? Is the enjoyment that you take in a long swim on a hot day really the same as the feelings you have for your lover, your sister, or your best friend? And why is it that in our culture we assume that if one adult tells another un-related adult “I love you” that they mean it in the eros form? It’s why I wrote the version of “Beauty and the Beast” I’m working on. It’s not done yet, but if you don’t mind the spoiler, Prince William is going to love (philia or storge) Johnny, there’s nothing romantic or eros about it, and the curse (in the original) never says it has to be. Why does our culture so devalue these other forms of love, while elevating eros? Especially considering that until fairly recently (two-three hundred years ago) eros love was the devalued and philia was the most valuable. It was only with the rise of the “love-match” marriage in the 1800s that philia love fell to the wayside. Why can’t we have both?
Tomorrow I promise to post my pics of Naomi. Feel free to come back for that!