Thursday, July 29, 2010

Peeling Hearts

A young friend overseas tells me she is again in love. There is pain in her news; she seems to need it, yet feels its brutal contours. I reply that youth is filled with such emotions, that she has yet to truly experience love's horror, that these are just test runs. Looking back on this bullshit response, I realize that my view of love is so twisted by life that projecting it on a younger mind is a disservice. She's smart, if deeply romantic. She'll figure it out, or not.

I know there's no "free" love, a tantalizing concept from my youth. However you define love, "freedom" has little to do with it. I've seen fear and hatred pass as love, emotional slavery as affection. Desperation also fuels images of love, for love is the highest emotion, and sometimes you must do whatever you can to reach it. In a country where freedom is barely understood, love is decidedly out of our grasp. Yet, as William Burroughs scribbled the day before he died, love is all there is. No wonder poets go mad trying to nail it.

What is love to me? Familiarity, acceptance, comity. The deep affection one has for one's children goes beyond love into emotional areas that few parents fully comprehend, assuming they're interested in their kids to begin with. Romantic love has always been a puzzle that age has yet solved, for different romances offer varied meanings. Lust has led me into loving arrangements that inevitably collapsed. There is love in nostalgia, memory. The new book delves into this, and I'm surprised by those feelings that have so far surfaced. Sadness and happiness blend and break apart, my aging heart yanked into long-dead worlds. I sometimes confuse wistfulness for love, but one nourishes the other, at least in my experience.

Part of The Project deals with these emotions, the connections we perceive but spend much of our time ignoring. Comedy is my means of translation; storytelling, too. I'm testing various moods and approaches in short sets, and while it might seem chaotic (and to a degree is), there is a larger narrative. Like romance, this too is a puzzle, though I think I have a better chance of finding where the pieces fit. We'll see.

Several years ago, in a vaudeville routine for Arianna's slave galley, I wrote:

"This plane of existence contains countless energies, a good number of which are unseen. You swim through them daily, perhaps unaware that they exist. But not only do they exist, they can be used to further one's consciousness, which, over time, can become a collective awareness . . . It's all interwoven. And the thing is, people know of its power. Whenever you express love for another person, or are part of an audience that appreciates a certain performance, or any activity that positively connects people, you get a taste of transcendence. Think about the feeling you have in those moments, then imagine living that way all of the time. It's do-able, trust me."

Is it? Let's find out.