On the transformative power of love

Who we are, what we do: both are inseparable. We guide our actions based a certain model of who we are, and how that person behaves. In turn, the sum of our past actions, reflected back to us from others – or contemplated in isolation – defines our sense of identity. And so we live, conscious pebbles hurtling along by force of inertia.

But wait! One thing can shift us out the rut. Love can. Not in a woo woo kind of way, no. There is a logic to spiritual madness.

Love is desire to bond with a person or a group. It’s an aspiration to be part of a new collective. And if we welcome love – as long as that love is not unrequited – we gain a new layer of identity. I’m no longer that person I’ve been up until then, defined by the series of my past actions. I’m someone else too, part of that couple, that team, that neighbourhood, or that family. The moment I receive and accept the possibility to be that new person, my actions follow. Inertia no longer equals fate. The course of my entire life changes.

Nothing else, that I know of, has similar power.

On relative and absolute love

We can love people absolutely or relatively.

Relative love has preferences. I would rather be with x than y. As a basis for this preference, we list a person’s objective traits – personality, intelligence, fame, beauty – and make a decision who to spend our time with on this basis. There is something repellent about it.

With absolute love, the person appears  in complete independence. The relationship is unique, neither better nor worse than any other, but a world of its own. That love is not tied to characteristics which, were they to change, would lead you to drop in the rankings. Absolute love therefore, whether from God or a fellow human, is always a gift of absolute freedom.


The white Ikea wardrobe


Sharing space, whether with parents, children, flatmates, colleagues, or a loved partner, is always a tricky business. There is much ground for conflict: who sits in the corner chair, who decides what goes on the wall, who can move the furniture around.

When we moved into this apartment, Philip and I had a basic agreement that he would own the bedroom and I would own the study. The living-room would be collective space. Concretely speaking, it means I would make all decisions on the furniture and decorations of the study (and also be the primary user) while he would decorate the bedroom, and uses it as home office or reading space when he’s not at work.

But since he started working as a teacher in 2014, he’s had to wake up early, and dress up. The wardrobe where his shirts and pants hang is close to my side of the bed, and he doesn’t want to disturb me at 6am. Also, the shirts started to get too many. We talked about it, and decided to place another wardrobe in the study.

The wardrobe is about 1m75 of height by 80cm of width, and deep about 60cm. The main body stands about 5 cm above ground, supported by the side and back planks, and is flat at the top. It is made of wood aggregate painted white. Two doors open at the middle, with long pieces of rectangular wood placed at an angle of about 90 degrees, to open and close. The wardrobe comes from Ikea, and Philip went out to buy it on a week-end at the beginning of this year. It came in separate pieces, and he put it together in this room with his friend Wayne. We had to get rid of an old style low dresser to make room for it, an odd, beautiful but impractical piece we’d picked up on the street in St Kilda.

The study doubles as Philip’s dressing room now, but I sometimes wake up as early as 4h45, and start working rightaway. When I do, his dressing place and my office clash, creating mild tensions over breakfast. Nothing unsuperable though.