Learning How to Smile

Things Leaked Out

Of the Mind of a Pensive Paranoid

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Another brooding, dark entry of semi-inspired, somewhat insipid catharsis
Learning How to Smile
I was listening to the radio the other day, and I caught a fragment of a song. Only a fragment, because I wasn't in the mood for it after hearing what I did, but a mental paraphrase of said fragment won't leave me alone.

If you know what the song might be, I'd love to know.

EDIT: The song is "Just Breathe", by Pearl Jam.

The lyrics I caught had the vocalist singing about how he could count the people he loves on both hands.

My immediate reaction was cynicism. I wasn't in the mood, and there was some music person boasting how there are so many special people in his life. My changing of the channel was fueled by more than my usual complaint that there was nothing on the radio, but also by indignation.

And I realized that perhaps my indignation was justified, not because it was a bad song, but because (in my opinion) society seems to be losing sight of what "love" really is. We use it colloquially, like I did in the second one-line-of-a-paragraph, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about love between people. Everyone claims to love, and so few can actually provide a reason that has merit. Some do it out of responsibility, others to leverage the law or society, or to be accepted by people... It so often seems like there isn't a good reason.

Maybe I'm talking outside of my boundaries of knowledge. It may be different in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, or perhaps it's even different just going outside the country, to Canada and Mexico. Maybe it's different going to Alaska or Hawaii, where it's not connected to the chaos of the contiguous United States; crossing state lines; or even leaving my mountain-ringed part of Southern California. I cannot claim to know more than what the most-likely-biased statistics bring, or what the news networks uncaringly report, but if they're even half-true, are we not ignorant of what love is?

Statistics claim that half of all marriages end in divorce, and that there are more single parents than ever. Even if we assume that half of the former are not for the capricious "irreconcilable differences" so many claim, and that half of the latter are caused by death (in some form or another), that's still so many people that don't know the meaning of what love is. They couldn't possibly know, because if they did, would that many people have that bond just fall apart?

For that matter, I don't think I can properly put to words what love is. Different people have different reasons for loving, different wants from their relationships, and different motivations for finding someone, not to speak of how these ideas can change over time.

Even so, I think there are essential parts of love that I already know, and that don't change. I think it starts with not tiring of a person's presence. So many people stop being able to do this, stand to be around someone, which is disheartening. One of the few things I can agree with my father on is that you can't say you can love someone until you've seen their quirks. He likes to say that you need to be able to wake up next to them, and see them without makeup, with that weird junk that forms around your eyes still attached, and the obligatory morning breath (ok, so he doesn't phrase it like that), and still care about them just as much. And then, that's only the start of knowing they could be the one.

All of this was brought about by one song lyric, and it has lead me to do a lot of thingking, because I've had to think about the people I'm around. I have to start wondering about who I myself love, or even care about. Frankly, doing so depresses me. As I do this, I find, more and more, that I don't have two hands for the people I care about and love. I have one hand, and it's gaining free fingers, sadly.

I'm finding that people push each other away so much more than they properly pull them closer, and with the people close to you, they push you away by trying to pull you closer when you don't want to be reigned in.

If you dare, look some time at the people in your life. See which ones you truly care about, which ones you love, and ask why. It's a harsh look at reality, a harsh, dark view, but I think it's one we all could stand to take, especially before we become another statistic, in some way or another.

"When I look into your eyes
There's nothing there to see
Nothing but my own mistakes
Staring back at me
Asking why..."


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