On Love, and Other Pandemics

In my recently concluded Composition 2 class, which focused on literary analysis and research, we had to read everyone’s favorite twee Leonardo DiCaprio Movie: Romeo + Juliet. (You Titanic bitches better sit your asses down, I am not amused.)

Now, despite the fact that I searched for it basically my entire life — and I know that I am not entirely alone in this — love was terrifically elusive for me — and I know that I am not entirely alone in that, either. Upon a re-reading of this comedy-turn-tragedy, I realized that one of the causes of this was that fuckers like Shakespeare built it up too much. You’re thirteen and at a party (hosted by your parents, no less) and you meet the love of your life? What kind of fucking pressure is that? If that’s what we’ve been building our ideas of love on for the last few hundred years, it’s no wonder we’re all fucked up.

But what struck me even more while reading it this time is that this is not actually a play about star-crossed lovers, or even love, actually; it is one about “honor,” and how a blind adherence to such a concept ultimately results in the very chaos it was created to prevent.

And that got me thinking about current feuds; and though they may feel powerful and intense, and of an almost otherworldly nature because they call into question much of what we’ve held dear (on all sides,) they’re not, really. They’re just more of the same in the continuing evolution known as humanity. We create societies to feel safe and, in doing so, we create structures that, at some point, all must have viewed inviolable; but then we change. And so, too, must those structures — it’s just that we’re not always that skilled in keeping up with our own times.

We’re tiny and small and terrified: If there is one thing that we can all accept in our souls, however deeply and quietly and behind closed doors, I hope it’s that. We don’t know what’s going on, truly, and so we have used our amazing and literally awesome imaginations to define it. And that’s beautiful. I don’t know anything about the interior lives of beetles nor asteroids, but I have to posit that the human ability to conjure is something really fucking special, maybe even divine.

But that ability to conjure runs amok when it first becomes rote and then becomes trope. We develop structures to make us feel safe and there is nothing wrong with that; what’s wrong is when those structures become more important than the lives of others.

So Shakespeare, with all of his humor and horror and sadness and glee, tells us, hundreds of years ago, about who we are today. That we are shortsighted and vengeful and unwilling to see beyond our lenses. The fact that those lenses were initially created to bond us together and help us love each other is entirely forgotten, however, because everyone is so fucking obsessed with the size, shape, color, and design of these lenses.

But hopefully that won’t be our ultimate folly because perhaps — and, remember, I’m a fucking Pollyanna — we will crack those lenses and grind the glass beneath our feet as we march toward eachother. I mean, that would be great, right? It would be so splendid to look into each other’s eyes and, instead of seeing hatred or envy or fear or confusion, we see with clarity: Ourselves.

Because that’s fucking love; and that should be pandemic.

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