Monday, March 14, 2005

"Love and do what you will"

Ah, subways. Last week, as part of my regular Thursday trek into Cambridge, I ran down the escalator from the train platform just in time to squeeze into a departing subway car. It’s only one stop to Harvard Square, so I sat down for the five-minute ride, happily listening to the Talking Heads on my iPod.

Then I noticed electric flashes outside the subway car’s plexiglass windows. Bright, intense flashes like a short-circuiting wire. My brow furrowed; what was this? Then I started to smell the acrid odor of burning rubber—the flashes continued. I looked around but all those jaded Bostonians seemed totally unaffected. Then, to my intense relief, we were at the Harvard Square stop. Just as I was hopping off, I heard the conductor announce out of the loud speakers that this subway car was going out of commission, repeat: out of commission, and no one was to board it.

Boy did I feel like I got out in the nick of time. Disappointed? I know, that was shaping up to be a really exciting story—if only I had been trapped! And bonded with my fellow passengers! And discovered my long-lost uncle and befriended a blind saxophone player! And then maybe seen my life flash before my eyes just before I, pumped with adrenaline, pried open the windows by hand and elicited the help of the subway-rats to guide us to safety. Now that would have been a blog-worthy story if there ever was one.

But honesty is the best policy, or to quote Shakeer, “I like telling the truth, most of the time if only because it's more efficient.” (Although I seem to have killed any potential efficiency of the prior story. Ah me.)

Regarding dishonesty, however… My history teacher is always telling us how we’d better write our name and date and class period on all our papers in case we lose them. (Because, y’know, it’s not like photocopying exists or anything.) Anyway, she seriously seems distraught at the idea that we might misplace a handout about the Hitler youth, for instance, and is forever reminding us to hole punch papers and file them away as well, for the final. Consequently, M. and I have taken to writing REWARD: $10!!! on the fronts of all our papers. Because if moleskines can get away with it with almost no irony at all, surely our history papers can pull it off with at least a shred of dignity.

Anyway, it seemed funny at the time. Speaking of funny (oh boy, here she goes…), we’ve also taken to assigning various things numbers from 1-10 on an “awesomeness scale” relative to Hannibal. No, not the cannibal. I speak, of course, of the Hannibal who famously crossed the impenetrable Alps with a gang of elephants. Because really, is there anything more awesome than that? Yeah, didn’t think so.

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I don’t know why, but lately I’ve been thinking about love a lot. The quote that set me off, I think, was from Augustine:

“Love and do what you will.”

I am, of course, quite a sucker of quotes of all sorts, but that’s certainly got to be one of the best. I’ve never been in love, though, so I guess I can’t be any sort of authority on it. A long time ago, I think I posted what I consider the sexiest love poem of all time. Pablo Neruda:

“I want to do with you
What spring does with the cherry trees.”

I’ve also started noticing, in the readings for my religion class, how different faiths regard love, or if they even acknowledge any sort of love besides that for God. I liked this view from the Zen Buddhist DT Suzuki:

“For the love now stirred demands at once the assertion of the ego and its annihilation. Love makes the ego lose itself in the object it loves, and yet at the same time it wants to have the object as its own. This is a contradiction, and a great tragedy of life…God gives tragedies to perfect man.”

So then, love perfects man. Oh I don’t know… I suppose I’m made of an odd combination of my hopelessly romantic heart but also my overly analytical mind. I like thinking about that kind of thing, but I’d rather feel it.



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