Bartered Love

They will love you - and they talk a lot about love - but only if you agree with their doctrine and conform to their standards. (1)

Isn't that what we do though? We barter love...

I was watching a movie not too long ago - it was questioning, simply, the art of beauty - and at one point the protagonist says:

Crush. It's funny how the same word for the feeling of disappointment can be used for the feeling of attraction. The Oxford English Dictionary states one of the meanings for the word crush as "a strong and unreasoning, but transitory attachment." (2)

I'm beginning to wonder if "crush" and "emotionally attached" are what we mean when we say we "love" people... I mean, I get it, I get the excitement of liking someone, the rush and heightening of senses from simple touch, the almost nostalgic aroma that washes over you when moment after moment of interaction fills the Twitter-like feed of your mind.

Or, for you non-Twitter people, I would have written that as: "when moment after moment of interaction fills the puddles of your conscious thoughts". (Hmm, I think I like that better, scratch the earlier comment about Twitter.)

Emotional Attachments

But I understand the idea of crushing on someone, and the idea of emotional attachments to someone; but those aren't really love. The limitation I feel with the word is, perhaps, a negative towards the English language, because we have to throw modifiers at the word: true love, young love, bad love, false love, brotherly love, romantic love. I wish we could just have different words, it'd make it easier. 


For a long time, I would talk about love, but I would always treat it as a currency, a karma currency. If you do well, I will treat you well. If you aren't inconvenient to me, I will accept you. But WOE TO YOU if you begin to be an inconvenience. 

I guess I'm beginning to see that's not love, and I should stop calling it that. Then I think about divorces, and break ups, and parents abandoning children, and all these instances that teach us that love is bartered; but it's not love that's bartered, it's the emotional attachments. Love is reserved for something deeper, something that is an expression, an expression from something that isn't tainted or corrupted by "transitory attachments". 

This delineation I think we see in a scene between Aragorn and Éowyn, in Return of the King (2003) 

Éowyn: "Why are you doing this? The war lies to the East. You cannot leave on the eve of battle! You cannot abandon the men."
Aragorn: "Éowyn..."
Éowyn: "We need you here."
Aragorn: "Why have you come?"
Éowyn: "Do you not know?"
Aragorn: "It is but a shadow and a thought that you love. I cannot give you what you seek... [But] I have wished you joy since the first I saw you." (3) (4)

Aragorn experienced emotions for her, but he loved another, and he always would.

And that deeper sense of emotional attachment, that's what I think we should begin to consider when we throw out so easily a word like "love". In whatever circumstances, convenient or not as they aren't the issue, there is this underlying deeper thing that causes expression to rise to our external actions.

If you love your girlfriend/boyfriend, and if you break up, the change in circumstances, shouldn't cause love to cease. And if it does, I don't think you were experiencing love. I don't think there is a true sense of the action of love being in a past, but no longer, present tense.

I loved... but love no more

Consider this: "I loved him, but I love him no more." I, to my deepest core, don't believe it works like that. The emotional attachments may change, they may mature or dissolve, but the wishing of the other person's highest good, I think, never meets cessation.  

And, to be honest, I think that's part of the Shadow of the Divine within us all; the capacity to love - or to express it with a modifying clause - to love beyond our transitory, and often self-seeking, emotional attachments.

Just an evening thought to ponder...

  1. Steve Brown, Three Free Sins: God's Not Mad at You (New York: Howard Books, 2012), p. 210
  2. A line by Ben Willis, played by Sean Biggerstaff, in the British movie Cashback (2006); a Sean Ellis film: 
  3. Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen, and Éowyn, played by Miranda Otto, in the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King; a Peter Jackson film:
  4. The scene is on Youtube as well:
Posted on October 26, 2012 and filed under Literature, Religion, Moments.