What if there’s a signage that says “Love Line: Do Not Cross” and instead of a yellow strip, it’s red, reflectorized, blinking as you come near it, signaling you to rethink before finally deciding to cross the boundary?
I guess I would like that idea. Love posts. Love warning devices. That should solve love issues, disputes and crimes of passion.
Maybe I am weird to have thought of that.
But come to think of it, if there were love warnings, it would be easier for us all to avoid the episodes of hurting, crying, wallowing, eating in depression and drowning ourselves in alcohol, or simply squandering our life in any way we could.
Don’t get me wrong. I love love, the idea of loving a person.
I love my family. My widowed mother is cared for despite my collapsing financial condition. My withholding tax is high, or should I say I love the agency that deducts it from my paycheck while others have evaded paying their taxes? I love my brothers and sisters. They run to me for help and I love the idea that I can lend them a hand. Until now my siblings with their kids and my aging mother are under my care.
We have our differences. We have skirmishes. But love is encompassing. “Love does not keep a record of wrong,” right? It is patient and kind. St. Paul said that to the Corinthians. I keep saying that to myself too.
I am prepared with this “caregiving” responsibility until I lose my own strength and youth. Most probably when I retire, my family would give me the chance to rest and enjoy whatever is left of me after missing out on things I could have done in my younger, stronger years. I know they love me too. They will give me that chance.
My mother loved my father. My father, who was a radiologist in Angeles City, died suddenly at New Year in 1973 due to liver cancer. We did not know then that he was suffering from that illness. It was kept secret from us, even from my mother. I saw my mother devastated by that truth. I was 9 but I knew she was lost. After the burial, we went to Zambales. There we grew up with the pains of losing a father and living with relatives. My mother needed to work for us to survive. We were left supposedly under the care of loving hands, but love was scarce. It was hard.
I was 20 when my mother got another partner, my stepfather. I did not know if it was love or a need for survival. He died after a few years due to diabetes and other complications. Another lost love. I guess my mother had since stopped loving.
Then it was my time to love. Love my family. The responsibility was turned over to me. It was love at first, then it felt like a duty. Was I losing it? The love? The job of a breadwinner became unbearable. I got tired. My heart was faltering, but I did not give up.
I went on “loving” my family—my brothers, sisters and their kids. Then I got the whole “love foundation” running. It is in fact still running up to now. When I say “foundation” I mean the siblings, nieces and nephews that I support in terms of their education and other finances. There are even “members” who are not in any way related to me.
People say I have a big heart. Does that mean I love right? Does that make me a loving person?
Now let me ask: What is love? Who defines love? In whose interest love is being defined?
I was a local student-activist in the early ’80s rallying against nuclear plants in Bataan, fighting against human rights violation and tuition hike, writing editorials against unfair management and walking for seven days from Clark to Luneta Grandstand to signify my protest against dictatorship. Did that make me a lover of the poor, the oppressed and the suppressed?
In college I was a catechist. Every Saturday, I visited prison cells to read the Bible and share the good news to prisoners. I served the church on Sundays. Did that make me an instrument of God’s love?
Love is really hard to define. The criteria of a genuine love vary. Love is like beauty—it’s relative.
The reason why I suggested the love warnings is because love can be too complicated.
I had loved a few kind souls but failed to keep them. It would be unfair of me to say I wasn’t happy when I met them. There was bliss. There were shared dreams. There was a place we called home. Then, there was separation. It was painful.
There were no warnings. There were no sign posts—“Don’t fall in love with this person, it’s going to be heart-breaking!,” “Beware, love bites!,” “Love at your own risk!,” “Warning: Bad lover. Keep out!,” “Danger! Hazardous love!”
But seriously, I need the warnings. We all do. Now, if despite the warnings, I still step beyond the boundaries, then that’s my free will. It is I taking the risk. I am prepared to love again and hope for the best.
Is love suicidal? No. It is sacrifice. The greatest sacrifice is Jesus dying on the cross for mankind. St. Paul said too that there are three things that will last—faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love.
I still believe in love. But I hope it comes with a warning.
Ariel C. Lansang works at Department of Education in Olongapo City as an education program supervisor. He has been in government service for 25 years. He loves writing, photography and bowling. He believes people enjoy his sense of humor and hate his sarcasm.
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