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Twenty-first. Night. Monday.

Silhouette of the capitol in darkness.

Some good-for-nothing — who knows why —

made up the tale that love exists on earth.

 

People believe it, maybe from laziness

or boredom, and live accordingly:

they wait eagerly for meetings, fear parting,

and when they sing, they sing about love.

 

But the secret reveals itself to some,

and on them silence settles down…

I found this out by accident

and now it seems I’m sick all the time.

 

by Anna Akhmatova

 

Ak


hmatova is a speaking here of the kind of love that comes from “falling in love.”

 

She’s right. That does not exist.

 

I don’t feel it required that we fall in love with a person to live with them. We fall in and out of love like yo-yos going up and down. Far better we can choose to love. For centuries (until the advent of modern media) marriages were arranged. The couple had no say in the matter. Faced with that they could grouse about it or they could make the best of it. Choosing to love a person means choosing. It means thinking the thing through and coming to a decision. It means deciding to be with that person for better or for worse (those words that fall so lightly from so many lips who then cry for divorce and/or separation at the first spilled coffee).

 

I have a legion of younger men around the planet I love who love me in return. We did not and do not have to spend the rest of our lives together.

 

Chance brought us together. Our will to love keeps us together.

 

 

Years ago a fellow I was having sex with said, “Why don’t you say you love me?”

 

I replied, “I do not say those words unless I mean them.”

 

Then I thought it through. Was this person worth loving? The answer is that every person is worth loving.

 

Then I asked myself if I was prepared to go through with him what I had gone through with the one before him. I said to myself, “It could not possibly get that bad.”

 

Turned out he was born within miles and moments of the fellow before him. It got that bad and worse but with one difference: I had chosen to love him for good and for bad.

 

I did more growing up during our break-up than I imagined possible. Don’t regret a moment of of it.

 

After him I determined to let people come and go.

 

Many have come into my life broken. They emerge strong and whole.

 

I put what I went through into my self-published re-telling of the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh and his lover Enkidu.

 

It is time to stop thinking about falling in love. We set ourselves up for heartbreak when we do that.

 

A young man asked, “Have you ever had your heart broken?” I said, “All that’s left is glue.”

 

Many men saw Phaedo at the baths. Attracted only by the external they satisfied themselves and moved on. Then one man, perhaps the ugliest man, saw what was within Phaedo. He arranged to have the boy’s freedom bought. That man was Socrates. If you want to know about love listen to him.

 

This week one of my lovers said, “I will never forget you gave me a place to live when I was crazy on drugs.”

 

I will never forget either. But was he worth it? Of course he was.

 

So let us stop prattling nonsense about biochemical rushes when the lure on the hook captures our fancy. That leads to the frying pan.

 

Let us begin to think about the real love that endures.

 

Young men are told King Solomon said, “Get yourself a wife. She will make you rich.”

 

They are not told Solomon had, I believe, two thousand wives and concubines all of whom came with property. They made him very rich indeed.

 

My lovers came with no property. They have made me rich beyond the wildest dreams of avarice.

 

Hopefully your lovers will as well to you.

 

Bagoas was eleven when he caught the heart of Alexander.

 

Jane Jacobs, the author of THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES, taught me that the concept of childhood is a recent invention. She said, “Before that infants were treated as adult minds in small bodies.”

 

From her I learned to treat what are today called children as adult minds in small bodies.

 

I also pass on that knowledge to people with infants. Those who hear me through say thank you.

 

Let us be adults in the garden of love. Gay men of my generation and before grew up in a garden of hate. Told that we are abominations most of us believed we are abominations. What physical love we had came from legions of strangers in the night whose faces in all likelihood we would never see twice.

 

To learn to love in this quagmire was and is a Herculean task.

 

I chose to see in the many one. I chose to see each face I kissed as aspects of the one eternal face.

 

I used that meant to crush me me as the means to make myself strong.

 

There has been no shortage in my life of anonymous hate.

 

I am grateful for it.

 

 

A young man who came to my programs decided to jump into my arms. We spent a wonderful year together. He left me this poem:

 

 

This Be The Verse

By Philip Larkin

 

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

 

But they were fucked up in their turn

By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another’s throats.

 

Man hands on misery to man.

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

 

Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse” from Collected Poems. Copyright © Estate of Philip Larkin. Reprinted by permission of Faber and Faber, Ltd.

Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

King David’s last of his many wives was eleven. Because he never consummated his union with her he was seen as no longer fit to be king. I think she prophesied Mary but that is my conviction alone.

 

Yes, Bagoas was eleven when he caught the eye of Alexander.

 

Mary was eleven when the Angel greeted her. She was eleven years nine months when Jesus was born.

 

No one else has better defined love than Jesus did. The shame is that so many who claimed they have him in their hearts are clearly not listening to him.

 

But that is their problem not mine.

 

My problem is that I am called to love them that hate me.

 

How can I do that if I am not hated?

 

Thus for their hatred I am grateful. They are teaching me a new and deeper understanding of love.

Love conquers all.

I have a cat I adopted whom no one else would have taken. He bit, clawed, hissed and scratched until one day he stopped. I watch him now and he’s happy.

I know love conquers. It is the only thing that does.

The night of ignorance is always cleared by the bright of the dawn.

–Reg Hartt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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