The following thoughts are a direct result of reading Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis. I read parts of it and immediately felt like writing something. Some works of art do have that ripple effect that they make you want to write, write and write. A brief warning: whatever is written herein may in fact be quite silly. Still it’s influenced by De Profundis :).
I wonder why and how love is such an integral part of living. I think if in this modern generation we were stripped of all our possessions, all our schooling and education, the bare remainder of us would inextricably be linked to our need to give and receive love. There’s the completely overused line ‘man is a social animal’. I would take that a step further and call human beings animals that are fatally connected to love. Love is such a necessity to us that it shapes our entire personalities. If we receive love, we learn to give love, and when we do not receive it, we crave for it, and our need for it is exhibited in different manners.
I have been reading Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis and have been trying to understand the depth of his emotions. When in his lonely prison cell he was stripped of his dignity, his former fame, his respect, Wilde was able to rise above blaming Sir Alfred, and his circumstances, to understand that he had reached a stage of heightened spirituality. He said that “pain, unlike pleasure, wears no mask”, and there is so much truth in that. He also said that he thought love was the cause of all suffering in the world and that if the world had been “built of sorrow”, it must have been “built with the hands of love”.
Sorrow is a remnant of love itself. We are sorrowful in our desire to love and be loved, we are sorrowful in the pain of the ones we love, we are sorrowful when the ones we love leave us in pain. Sorrow is a natural progression perhaps, of love. It is only if we love sufficiently, that we experience pain and sorrow. Anyone who says that love is entirely devoid of sorrow or pain has possibly not experienced it in its entirety.
Love is not constant, but it is not like the changing seasons of a year. It is not like wearing new garments daily, and throwing the old ones aside, but instead is like knowing that the sun will rise every day but still watching it rise with excited eyes. One can love and grow weary of it, and one can love and understand its changing moods, and accept that love is imperfect, but patience can make it warm and beautiful. Why is it that many choose to let love die, rather than accept that love is not perfect? The world has become shallow and in our individualistic lives, we have no time to love those we wish to love and should love, we have no desire to put ourselves in pain over love. We are taught that being cold and unfeeling is more necessary to survive in this world, but are reprimanded for showing care and concern for strangers. We are applauded for our unemotional and practical outlook towards life but are mocked for being sensitive and in touch with our emotions. If something is painful to us, it is immediately thrown aside, like a malady. If something is pleasurable, it becomes the root of survival, the only one thing worth striving for. But we do not understand that if we do not feel sorrow and pain, we cannot call ourselves human. If we avoid that which ails us, we will never learn to live fully.
It is the malaise of the soul to love, because just as love strengthens, raises and brings immense happiness, so does it wound, kill and cause unbearable pain. Love numbs our senses and makes us oblivious to the darkness of the world, and the sneers of pessimists. But once love is filled with pain, it touches our raw nerves, forces us scream in agony, and makes all the sadness in the world seem like our own. Falling in love is sudden and silent, but the pain of love is loud and it lingers in our soul the way nothing else does. Then love weeps in a corner, distanced from the world, thrust aside like an outcast, and punished like a criminal. One can only imagine that Wilde felt this way in his prison cell when the person he loved (Sir Alfred) did not write to him for two years, but ignored him.
Still, it is with the experience of pain that we understand love. Love is never devoid of pain, because we love not only with our body, but also our heart and soul. As Wilde said, “pleasure for the beautiful body, but pain for the beautiful soul”.