Tuesday, May 06, 2008

To Love or To Be Loved: Musings on The Great Gatsby

Dear Gatsby,

I finally read your book. And I was surprised, for though I had read a number of reviews, articles, etc., I was not prepared for your emotion, your love. I suppose that F. Scott Fitzgerald would lead us to believe that your love was more obsession than love. Poor Gatsby, yes, there was obsession, but obsession is also the dark way of unrequited love.

And your love led me to thinking about a question. "Is it better to love or to be loved?" Of course, one always hopes to have the beautiful combo, to both love and be loved in return, in equal measure. But that is a distant dream, and one that does not always come to pass. And often, even in great loves and wonderful relationships, the scales of love tip one way, and sometimes back and forth, but rarely do they balance steadily over time.

To be loved is like receiving a beautiful gift. It is like an equity, an account that can be drawn upon. How terrific is that? To be truly loved is to know that at any moment you have someone to lean on emotionally, financially, spiritually, socially, in sickness and in health. That is amazing capital. To be loved is, in some ways, to be free of loneliness. It is to have some center where you know your heart will always be welcome, like a home. To be loved is to have available the resources of some other heart, to have access to some other set of perspectives, to have someone whose eyes will never turn away, as yours, Gatsby, never strayed from the green light on the dock across the water. To be loved is to have in this world, two cubic cubits of space (Exodus 30) upon which there is a continual incense burning, raising you to God, seeking your good. (Now, two cubic cubits is not everything, but it is something.) And to continue this analogy, to be loved, is to have someone who would, if need be, once a year, provide the blood for your atonement, or as Jesus put it, would "lay down his life" for you. (John 15) That is what it is like to be loved.

And there is only one thing that is better. That is to love. For to love is to live on the very edge of the precipice of life. Loving another is very risky business. It is betting the entire wad on one horse. To love is to give full rein to another being, come what may. To love is not to gain access, but to give access. It is an extremely involved state of being. Loving is making provision, giving, praying, enjoying, grieving, and accepting. Loving is remaining open in the face of both the open and the closed of another. Loving is patience and kindness and seeing no evil. Loving precludes selfishness and anger and making the other person see your point of view. Loving sometimes has to be pretty invisible to actually be, truly, love. And loving remains even when being loved is gone, hoping and believing. In a way, loving carries a vital eternality that exists no where else, even in being loved.

Why, you may ask, Gatsby, is this better than being loved? I'm not sure why, but it is. It is. Perhaps your love might have been a more successful venture, if you had not demanded the return. If you had accepted the lot of the loving, without the lot of loved. Still, I did appreciate the love that you nurtured, and it was, perhaps, your only true thing.

Betsy

1 comment:

SurveysCenter said...

I like it.