Can you love too much?

I’ve been listening to Crowded House’s Woodface again for the last few days. I like doing that, balancing some of the classics with the new releases. And Woodface stands up so well from 1991; it’s that kind of beautiful lament that just makes me think of Paul Hester whenever I hear it. And there’s a lyric in Fall At Your Feet that gets to me every time I hear it.

The finger of blame has turned upon itself
And Iā€™m more than willing to offer myself
Do you want my presence or need my help
Who knows where that might lead

A lot of people think Fall At Your Feet is a love song, and it is, but it’s more than that as well. I’ve always thought of it as a song of hurt and rejection. It’s about a man who wants to be there for the woman he loves, but she won’t let him in and he’s not sure how to deal with it. I’ve always related to that. I remember when Crowded House gave their farewell performance at the Opera House, hearing Fall At Your Feet was just mesmerising and it was one of the first times I’d heard it (and heard it properly) in years. That’s just like me, right, to become a fan just when the band breaks up? But it meant a lot to me because 1996 was a difficult year. I wasn’t well for a lot of that year and I was school prefect as well, and a few of my friendships fell apart. Fall At Your Feet just seemed to connect in a way that few songs ever have for me.

I think one of the reasons was that this idea of love wasn’t the glossy version that everyone else seemed fascinated with. I’ve never bought into this idea of “The One” or that you’re meant to be with someone; I can see why people like that idea, but to me it’s like you’re focusing on this idea of a person that might never become real. Love doesn’t work that way; you might truly love someone, but just because you do doesn’t mean it will be returned. And you might miss someone you’re more compatible with because you’re not looking.

I don’t like getting too personal with this blog, but I’ve said before that I think I’ve only ever been in love once. There’s no dramatic story, no awful ending. We were just there at the wrong times; like two ships sailing in the opposite directions, never in harbour at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll meet someone else like that again and I’m not too bothered if I don’t; it’d be nice, but I don’t define myself by who I’m with. I know that doesn’t sound romantic but I don’t get caught up in infatuations. I don’t think I love too much.

Some people do. I think some people fall in love so hard, love someone so much that it blinds them to everything else. They don’t see when things start to go wrong; they don’t see when they aren’t compatible, or when they’re following the same doomed pattern; they don’t see (or want to believe) that it can be better to be apart than to continue living a lie. I think that’s one of the reasons the divorce rate is so high and why people get hurt.

JK Rowling seems to agree with me as well. Her revelation that Dumbledore is gay is still causing all kinds of debate (which is still ridiculous), but the part I found interesting was this. “…do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that’s how I always saw Dumbledore.” I still think what Rowling has done with Dumbledore is brilliant; to quote Mark Harris, she’s turned Dumbledore purple, demystified it, and in the process made Dumbledore and our favourite uncle and our next-door neighbour just as normal as everyone else. But even more so, she’s made him a tragic figure. Love blinded him; he couldn’t see what Grindelwald really was. And I think that applies just as much to all of us.

How often do we wonder how history might have been different had something changed? If JFK hadn’t died? If Israel and Palestine had agreed to peace a decade ago? And the king of them all – what if Adolf Hitler hadn’t existed? Would WWII still have happened? Most likely; it would have been a different war, but what must it have been like to have known Hitler, maybe to have liked him or even loved him as a child? Probably not that different to how it is for people now; in some cases love just blinds everything else.

That’s Rowling’s point, and that’s mine here as well. We’ve built up this idea of what love should be; that we should be swept off our feet, that we should feel a certain way, look a certain way, and not have doubts. We have to love a person completely and devote ourselves to them, and it’s a lovely notion but I can almost guarantee you it won’t work like that. For some people it might, possibly, but for most of us it’ll only be a let down. And while we still cling to this idea of “The One” and pop music and movies (fun as they might be!) continue to perpetuate it, we’ll only continue to be broken-hearted.

So that’s why I’m enjoying rediscovering Woodface again. Listening to it now it’s almost a lament for what we’ve lost. But it’s also hopeful; it celebrates the beauty of love, and love is a truly beautiful thing: two hearts, two souls, two minds, side by side. If you know what it is and you’re lucky enough to have it – the love of a lover, or a child, or a friend – then love is amazing. If you have time, maybe you could look up Woodface, or at least Fall At Your Feet. Who knows, if you’re falling in love, it might be your song. šŸ™‚

12 thoughts on “Can you love too much?

  1. Oh, I’ve just gone all weepy. This is a beautiful essay, cj, and shows us all you have love in your soul. There’s all kinds of love, and it’s easy to be caught up in the tingly exciting beginnings of a relationship, and then you’re THERE, without really working out the details. I must say I’m not a fan of drowning in or being absorbed by “the other”, but there’s nothing better than ones love being ones best friend–more sustaining in the end. Wishing you love, of many kinds.

    CJ: Thanks Muse! I know I have love in my soul – I need to know how to get it out of there before it spreads! Oh wait, it’s a good thing? šŸ˜†

    I think with any relationship there’s that initial stage when you’re infatuated with the person; even in a friendship, you want to be around someone, and I think that’s a natural reaction. It’s the excitement of making a connection. But in time it does wear off, and a lot of people think that means that something’s wrong with the relationship. It doesn’t necessarily; it’s often just the beginning of a new stage, but that flag’s gone off in their mind and from then on it’s doomed. I just wish people wouldn’t get ahead of themselves so much, but maybe that’s natural too and there’s not much you can do.

    Maybe I should be a columnist. What do you think, Muse? CJ in the City. Got a nice ring to it? šŸ™‚ Peace and love to you as well, always.

  2. Indeed. Watch out, Sydney, ceej is on the prowl!
    OT: I meant to tell you how much I like your header. I looked at it for a little while before I realized it was lovely crystal chess pieces. And the one in front…comes closer and closer…if you stare at it…

    CJ: Ceej, I like that! It could be my rapping name. Cee-j n da Hood. šŸ˜‰

    Thanks for the compliment on the header. I was getting tired of Blix’s quirks, so I thought it was time for a change and I found some beautiful headers at I knew this one suited the blog as soon as I saw it. Should last until I get round to doing a custom job.

  3. I penned a couple of replies to this – and I much prefer penned to typed – before deciding that they would have been too personal and too out of keeping with Stonehead. But not for me.

    So, I’ll just leave you both to muse, ponder and wonder.

    And CJ, I think you should write your column as lyric verse. Then you could be on the radio as CJ Sing…

    CJ: Wow, my mind’s just exploded. In your leaving us to muse and ponder, Stone, I went back and reread my own post three times – and found something different in it each time. I didn’t realise how I had structured it until I went looking; I opened up a lot more than I realised, for one thing. Thank you, Stone. Once again you shed insight in a way I’m not expecting.

    And I like that! CJ Sing has a nice ring to it. I’d like to write more songs, but I’ve still got a long way to go with songwriting… can’t get a better teacher than Neil Finn, though. šŸ™‚

  4. Ah, Stoney, will we ever get to know the man behind the blog? Oh, wait, maybe you’re a woman! and you rent those kids from the neighbors for pics! And you really work in a highrise in Glasgow! You have left some cryptic (and not such) hints around in the comments, so I, at least, do ponder and wonder. Muse always.
    Both of you: I commented on blog personi (is that correct usage?) over at sulz‘s place. She has a good post and amazing comments about it.

    CJ: Ah, but if all the mysteries were revealed, wouldn’t we lose something, Muse? I love the idea of an orphic persona and it always makes me look at Stone’s insights in a new light.

    I’ll definitely be checking out Sulz’s post. Blog personae are interesting; the whole idea of a blog is to give little insights about your personality, but how much can you reveal and still keep some distance? I don’t think anyone’s come up with the perfect answer yet.

  5. oops, meant “cryptic”, but I’m sure you know that…cj, if you will, please edit and then remove this. or not. as such.

    CJ: No worries, it’s fixed. I’ll leave the comment, though, if that’s okay. It’s nice for my stats. šŸ˜‰

  6. Hi CJ,
    Love is the most imperfect of perfections in the universe. I fear that we writers have had a lot to do with creating the ‘the one’ syndrome and so on. But you’re right, if people would be willing to release the fantasy for what possible joy stands before them, they would be happier and probably more balanced in the bargain. šŸ˜‰

    CJ: WC, you just made my day. “Love is the most imperfect of perfections in the universe”. That’s exactly what I was trying to say and you summed it up so beautifully, and in nine fewer paragraphs than I did as well. šŸ˜‰

    I think you’re right, writers have played a part in circulating “The One”; it’s marketable and appeals to us on a base level, so it’s something we explore. My problem with it is that a lot of people can’t separate the fiction from the reality and so they keep making the same mistakes (myself included). But really it’s just the new-age term for soulmate, which is a great concept. And love is such a beautiful thing that when you know you have it, the rest doesn’t matter. Which is exactly how it should be. šŸ™‚

  7. I will derail the train of love once more.

    Muse, it is true that Stonehead is a construct but that does not mean that it is a false persona. I suspect the main difference between the Stonehead persona and those of many other bloggers is that mine is a deliberate construction, not a subconscious one.

    I chose which aspects of myself and my life to use in forming the construct, I chose which direction in which to send the construct and, while I do give it some freedom as to direction, I do keep it loosely tethered to myself.

    I suppose you could argue that, technically, Stonehead is not a construct but a homunculus, a little being sent forth as my agent, as an illustration or representation of how I function, and as a subject for any unendurable torments that other bloggers care to unleash.

    Stonehead, the Brazen Man.

    CJ: Interesting. So you see the Stonehead persona as an extension of yourself, but one which you control the direction of and can keep at a distance? So in that way it’s not a true or false persona, but more like a mentality.

    I try to keep a distance with what I write on the blog, but it’s still me; I change dates and times around and sometimes exaggerate to maintain privacy, but it’s more a window to my thoughts than my life, so it’s sufficient to keep the distance. Getting the balance right is a fine art, though. I’m not sure there’s any template to follow except to experiment.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Stone. You’ve given me a few things to think about again. šŸ™‚

  8. Spurious has a good post on the homunculus. Her vision of one is in many ways similar to mine, but there are notable differences, too.

    Michael Swanwick’s The Sleep of Reason is an interesting take on the homunculus.

    Goethe’s homunculus from Faust is also relevant – a little man in a flask who lies outside Nature, a soul and spirit without a material body. Goethe uses the homunculus to show that the path for humanity seeking enlightenment lies within themselves.

    A web persona or construct could certainly be a little being outside Nature, without a material body, but with soul and spirit.

    CJ: That’s an interesting way of looking at it; a persona being a creation that almost takes on a life of its own, but is still tied to you and based on parts of your psyche. Philip Pullman’s daemons in His Dark Materials springs to mind, how Pantalaimon is a part of Lyra.

    I can see how the observations would be different as well, based on the way people interact with the construct. Some food for thought. šŸ˜‰

    Thanks for the links, Stone; I’ll check them out properly later. I love Michael Swanwick; he’s an inventive writer, more so than most SF/Fantasy writers, so that’ll be very interesting.

  9. Apologies for the spelling. I’m suffering headaches at the moment and they’re affecting my concentration so things I normally pick up on are being overlooked.

    CJ: That’s funny, I actually didn’t notice; guess I was more interested in what you were saying. šŸ˜‰ I think I fixed it. Hope you feel better soon.

  10. cj, All right, leave the comment, as your stats are obviously more important to you to than my public mortification at misspelling both “cryptic” and “personae”. Hmmmf šŸ™‚ (And I reward such a man with yet another comment)!
    Anyway, Stonehead’s up there with spelling errors too, so if the best vocabularist in the western world can do it, I’m not quite so…utterly…chagrined.
    I’m fascinated by how all of us construct our blog–and dare I say–“real” personalities. You say you don’t like to get too personal on “da blog”, but I think this post on love is pretty darned personal, as you apparently discovered after the fact, yourself! And you’re constantly inviting me to weep when I read your writing, because you are so very skilled at evoking imagery and emotion. I take that personally! (In a good way)!
    So, who are you now? Cee-j n da Hood? or CJ in the City? Perhaps cjSings in da Hood what’s in the city? –whooo, apparently time to go, Cheers.

    CJ: Muse, reading that back, I do owe you a better explanation about the comment. The real reason I don’t like to delete them is my comment policy; I always say I’ll edit a person’s comment if they point out a typo or something like that, but I treat comments as an individual’s intellectual property and so won’t edit them in any other way. The one hole in this is if someone leaves a comment asking me to correct something and I do it and delete their other comment; suddenly I have nothing definitive to prove they wanted the change, so someone could easily set me up for censoring them. I know you would never do that, but if I make an exception for one person, it’s hard not to make an exception for others. I hope that makes sense. I really don’t care about stats; it’s just wonderful hearing different opinions and seeing the conversation take off. šŸ˜‰

    It’s amazing how people go about constructing their blogs, isn’t it? I find it fascinating as well how blogs evolve over time and start to reflect more about the person, as you said on sulz’s post. I try to keep a slight distance with the blog as it’s a window to my thoughts and ideas rather than my life, but I’ll often use something personal to start a post and then twist it in a different direction; that’s how it’s recognisable as me, my voice, but still retain some privacy. I went a bit further with this post, but I’m quite happy with that; it’s good to know I can without it taking over the post!

    Well, I think I’m probably just plain old CJ; because in a way CJ is all those things: aspiring writer, blogger, songwriter, and right now he’s still got Fall At Your Feet stuck in his head. Get it out, get it out! šŸ™‚

  11. Aw, shucks, ceej, you know I was just teasing about my mortification! But you make an excellent point about intellectual property. I did have someone ask to edit a typo, and then to delete the comment asking for the edit–which I did. But, I put it all in an email, so I have that if needed. I know there was a big discussion about editing a while back, so it’s good to have a clear policy. There’s nothing “plain” about cj. And you have an ohrwurm ! I get those all the time, too. (Could be worse than At your Feet, but still)! And didn’t mean to seem unsympathetic with the headaches of Stonehead.

    CJ: Yeah, I knew, Muse. But I thought it was worth saying as a few other people might wonder about it too. And I have my comments saved as emails as well for backing up, but I’m not sure if even that’s really enough; it’s simple enough to fake an email. It’s just a small risk, though, when you think about all we have to gain from commenting. The conversation is just one reason I love blogging. šŸ™‚

    Thank you so much for the compliment! Sometimes I feel very plain, but don’t we all? šŸ˜‰ And in the end writing is such a part of my life that this blog, my poetry and everything else is just an extension of who I am. I’m not sure I could separate them if I wanted to!

    That’s interesting, I’ve never thought of it as an earworm before. That’s a great way of describing it. (Although usually when I think of earworms it’s that scene from The Wrath of Khan, with the Ceti eels burrowing into Chekov’s ear… eew.) At least I love Fall At Your Feet, so it’s a nice feeling to have. I mean, it could be worse – I could have The Way I Are stuck in there instead. šŸ˜†

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