If it’s all right with everyone, I’d like to preface with a brief statement about love.
Now I should never generalize, but I think it is among the safer assumptions out there that we’ve all asked for advice about love. We’ve asked advice about what it is, how it should feel, and how to keep it right where you want it once you’ve managed to find it. And more often than not, that advice, whether from friends or family or paid experts, is to never be afraid. I guess there’s something to that. The power is in its simple obviousness. Of course. Courage levels all obstacles and routs all bugbears. It enlivens and emboldens our clearest, proudest selves. Hesitate, even for a second, and perish.
But I think that there’s something to that fear. In fact, it makes quite a good deal of sense when we step back and really look at what it is we are afraid of. Failure, yes, that is obvious; but that’s not all! Break that fear down to its parts and you get fear of unfulfilling, fear of shaming, fear of numbness, fear of complacency, fear of embarrassing, fear of being bad, fear of causing pain, and fear of disappointing.
I think that these fears are perfectly healthy.
Now before you step in and naysay, take a moment to think about the fears I put forth. The astute listener will note that they go only in one way. I made no mention of fear of being unfulfilled or of being hurt or of being disappointed. Certainly these fears are real and worthy of confronting. They are the fears of loneliness. They are lurid and surreal fears that come only after the unfulfillment, hurt, and disappointment have manifested. But these fears, in short, have little — nothing, in fact — to do with love.
Love is about being able to set yourself aside. It is about being so unconcerned with your own distastes and negating proclivities as to feel bulletproof in the face of any misfortune. I suppose that is something we all know in our heart of hearts. It may, depending on the translation used, even double as a gloss on St. Paul. But I think we forget it enough times that it bears occasional redux. Certainly I forgot it, and count many of my struggles in the matter to its being forgotten. Indeed, I remembered it only recently, though in a rather happenstance and unusual way.
For a very long time I owned this car. Well, it’s not really a car, exactly; I’m using it as a stand-in for something more embarrassing. But I had this car, and, as I said, I had it for a long time. For a long enough time that in driving it I’ve had many ups and downs with its functionality. Some days it was better at getting me to where I needed or wanted to go than it was in other days. On the bad days I often found myself saying some hurtful things about it, and sometimes to it. I will not repeat them here, but sometimes I’d go so far as to say them as I was driving it. And in one of these moments, I so lost my bearings that I locked my keys in the car while the car was still running. As I waited for the police, sitting on the pavement, banging my head against the door, I had this sudden epiphany. This was my fault. And not only this but every other instance of tension and dysfunction could be traced back to me as their source.
The car never set any detailed conditions nor did it make any explicit promises. It came into my life with a very basic, straightforward purpose. As I used it, it was mine to make or to break. Of course, I broke it but it did not break me. Rather, I broke myself. The more time I spent with the car, the more I came to appreciate the simplicity of it and the complications I put upon it in our cohabitation. The more I ruminated on those complications, the greater responsibility I felt to make things right.
What is this if it is not love? Is not love, after all is said and done, the act of making things right? Making things right is among the hardest of our abstract duties, but it is made all the more worthwhile when done for someone who — or something that — can never disappoint. This makes it seem a bit one-sided, but the beauty of love is finding that person who dreads your disappointment every bit as you dread theirs. It’s not easy, but finding that balance, and remembering what’s lost with imbalance, is one of the greatest boons to personal joy. It is second only to the knowledge that each thing made right, side by side with love, vanquishes one gratuitous wrong thing from our concerns.
With that sentiment in mind, let’s move on to address this internal liability report for our processing plants. How the hell is this worse than the independent audit? For fuck’s sake, accidents have doubled. Not only are we up to our eyeballs in nondisclosure settlements, we’re really stretching the ontological limitations of what properly constitutes “head cheese.” Shit, people.