If It Doesn’t hurt …

By | June 29, 2007

There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom. An obvious thing to say, but something that I’ve been reminded of this week. I suppose it’s a train of thought that’s been initiated by the events in Yorkshire, Humberside and Lincolnshire. If you haven’t had it reported on the news in your country you should check out the BBC Website. Suze and I got our feet wet a little but we haven’t suffered the hardship that others have suffered.

While I can empathise with those worst affected, having been somewhat inconvenienced myself, I know I cannot truly understand how badly they have been traumatised. Indeed how much the disruption is still affecting them (some are apparently still without power and many are prevented from returning to their homes due to existing floods or the threat of the dam bursting.

Hopefully the meteorologist’s prediction of another 50mm of rain at the weekend will be inaccurate and those affected can begin to recover from the disaster.

So there it is, in a nutshell. I can read about something, see it on TV, talk to someone with first hand knowledge of the thing. But unless I have been through it I can’t truly understand the emotions that accompany the experience.

It’s like love, no Love, the one with the capital L’. Funny but in English we only have one word for love. Oh yes, you can embellish it with qualifications and caveats but you have to use the same word for loving your siblings, parents, partner, friends and even your favourite flavour of crisps. How can one word be expected to convey the texture and hue of such a varied, personal and subjective range of emotions, thoughts and chemical stimuli that weave themselves together and manifest themselves as the love between two (or more) people?

You have to experience Love to know what it is, and in doing so you expose yourself to the possibility that its potent magic may cast a spell over you that may bring as much grief as it does joy. If it doesn’t hurt it isn’t Love, it’s love or lust, or something less substantive. And I don’t mean hurt because something has gone wrong, like being rejected, dumped, spurned or having your love unrequited. Love can grab your heart and twist it, take your breath away at the thought of the object of your affections. It can happen when they walk in the room or the smile at you when you wake in the morning.

So to have one word to describe something that can only be experienced may I suppose be an honest expression of English’s failure to do justice to the concept. A form of self-imposed New Speak that would have had O’Brien smiling a smug smile.

Love is one of those concepts that will never be quelled by a language inadequate to describe it though. It’s too strong, too inherent in our nature as human beings. Even if the lads and ladettes of the nightclub scene choose to ignore and deny its existence it’ll get them eventually … and if not they’ll spend a lonely old age regretting that they chose to ignore Love’s potential to make them whole.

Funny how one thought leads to another isn’t it.