You know how when you go to a foreign country and you try to learn a word or two of the local language, there is always a dim wit that wants to teach you the curse words and sleazy phrases? Yes, I found a few of those over the years, some milder than others. In France, I learned ‘merde’. In Seville, I was taught coña, Barcelona gave me fill de puta. Lisbon generously gave me Vai tomar no cu!
By now, I was certain that when I ask for a new word or phrase it would be something colourful and I kind of braced myself. Then Doha (Qatar), gave me ‘shukraan’. There is hope…Gutenberg gave me jag älskar dig, which was lovely, but a mouthful for me.
Thessaloniki made up for it all. Thessaloniki gave me S’agapo… or Se agapo.
Something about the way it flowed gave me goose bumps when I heard it the first time, and when it was translated, I found it even more beautiful (it means I love you). What took it a notch higher though was when my teacher went on to explain the many different words the Greeks have for love and how each word means a different kind of love.
I remember thinking to myself how wonderful it would be to be loved by a Greek if only to hear ‘I love you’ in all the colorful ways they say it. knowing it’s one of the many different ways one can be loved.
Yes, I am that girl that loves to love. And for me, love is not skimmed, and measured, not if you feel it in another language like I felt it in Greek, or even in my native Hausa. In fact I was able to relate because in Hausa, ‘Ina son ki’, which means I love you, has an erotic connotation to it whereas ‘Ina kaunan ki’ (also means I love you) has an agape kind of meaning to it. When you grow up in, or experience deeply, a culture and a language that has a Rubik’s cube kind of facade to certain emotions, you tend to feel fully, deeply and often times painfully.
The English language having just the one word (love) to describe the many faces of this complex feeling does it very little justice. That is not to say there is a shallowness to your emotions if you love in English. Not at all. However, there is an element of intensity, or a ‘madness’ to ethnic love (or a love with many names) that only another mad person understands. When you talk about amor caliente, to describe a Latin love for instance, it conjures an image of exaggerated passion, a certain level of irrationality and possessiveness and even a dash of danger. which in a sense I guess can come across as scary and unnecessary. But it doesn’t have to be scary.
Anyway, lately, I have had to come to terms with the fact that ‘I love you’ (the way it is portrayed in English) doesn’t necessarily translate the way you feel it in a dialect or another language. The depth of an emotion felt, dictates the intensity of surrender, which in turn opens one up to vulnerability. Love can be intense, and demanding and needy, and gentle, and wholesome and kind…and painful, and frightening ….many faceted and utterly BEAUTIFUL.
I was in a conversation lately with someone about my plans for the future. I’ve talked about things I’d like to do and places I’d like to visit… And how at the end of it I’ll find a nice commune somewhere to settle down and grow old until I croak. She then asked, “You mean you want to settled down to a poly amorous life style?” It took me a slow minute to realize she though my settling down in a commune meant loving many people.
“No, that train has left the station”, I responded. She thought it was sad, because what she thought she heard me say was that I was done with being loved or with loving. I tried to explain it to her and the best I could come with is “I am just in another void right now”, and we left it at that. Yes, the thought of love had become burdensome that it felt safer to simply want to close that chapter of my life,
What I mean in essence is, in my void — in my alone-ness — I had reached out for another soul and failed to make contact, and so I began to diminish and to turn inwards. And subsequent reaches became shorter and shorter, and less frequent, as I got starved of communion. I have rationalized each subsequent disappointment and learned to accept it. My gaze steadily turned upon me as I gradually suck myself inwards, until I no longer reach out for connection. I have been contained within myself, and have weirdly found contentment of sorts within. It feels like I am feeding upon my own spirit, cannibalizing my very essential self. This was why I talked of settling down in a commune; something about that felt like it may be the one place I’d find kindred cannibals, each in their little void pods and maybe, an understanding or hopefully some sort of connection.
Then I stumbled on Jason Silva’s video about Romantic love and the very first line “A reflection about romantic love and its role in colonizing the wallpaper of our minds….” that one sentence unraveled my well rehearsed explanation to where I am today or how I have loved and allowed love in my life. Listening to his monologue gave me goose bumps, the way Se agapo did when I heard it the first time in Greece. What he shared in essence is that when we fall in love we impose an impossible expectation of how that love will play out…but at the same time, we also should be mindful of running the risk of having an equal amount of expectations placed on our performance too.
The way I see it, if you are dancing to the same music, you both will be guided by the beat and soon enough, you’ll find each other’s rhythm and thus the dance becomes effortless. If there is struggle then you’re either dancing with the wrong partner, or not dancing to the same tune, in which case you need to step away.
It then hit me for the first time, that I have played in the wrong sandbox all along, wrong dance, wrong music…obviously wrong dance partner, and what that did was challenge the smooth flow of energy in motion (e-motion). There was desperation to connect and to be desperate in love is to stumble about in search of a crutch. There should be no desperation in love. I am intoxicated right now by the revelation of this truth and I need to find a way to apply it to my plans going forward. Obviously Truth in application is relative, but truth in essence is absolute. And Ultimate Truth is Absolute
Peace begins with me.
©Naan Pocen 2020.
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