The different sides of love
A dialogue between Gottfried the bird and Baruch the heron. Gottfried thinks that each being is independent but part of a logical and harmonious whole, accessible through singing. Baruch spends a lot of time still and this allows him to understand that everyone is a unique and particular, yet in relation with others and the universe.
Gottfried: Baruch, you are back, I’m glad to see you!
Baruch: that makes me happy, Gottfried, and I needed comfort.
Gottfried: what’s going on ?
Baruch: I met someone over there in the south.
Gottfried: it’s wonderful, why are you sad?
Baruch: I don’t know if she’ll come here.
Gottfried: so why did you leave her?
Baruch: ah, I’m not quite sure yet but it seemed it was necessary. Besides, I don’t like the south in summer, it’s too hot and too humid.
Gottfried: and her, what does she think of the north?
Baruch: well, she doesn’t like it very much, she is cautious.
Gottfried: if it’s true love, you have found the half that makes each of you a one so now that one is missing from the other and vice versa, you will do anything to find each other again.
Baruch: yes, that seems obvious, but even true love cannot feed only on itself. It needs other horizons that will nourish it. I don’t want to stop coming to the domain because I also love this place and its people, including you although you often make fun of me. This is why it is also certain that there is no pain without love because when the external cause which provoked it disappears or is absent, misfortune appears.
Gottfried: eh Baruch, you became very sentimental suddenly but you are right, love is never easy. It is taking pleasure in the perfection of the other and his or her happiness so it also brings the fear that it may disappear. What you need to remember, though, is that you have found the one that had awakened that feeling in you again. Enjoy it instead of being saddened by it.
Baruch: I may have wanted to leave her to test this feeling in me and give her the opportunity to test it in her. Also to test this feeling I have for the domain and the feeling she has for her place of origin. Love take many forms even if one ultimately wins over the others.
Gottfried: you are wise and you shouldn’t doubt your qualities as they are the ones that gave birth to this feeling of love in her and make me want to make fun of you because I love you too.
Baruch: it seems to me that I do know that but have you noticed how we often need confirmation and that we will seek it from those who we believe will give it to us?
Gottfried: so I did well to answer you as I did! Do you think that your love is a love of benevolence which makes you love the pleasure of the other or a love of concupiscence which is akin to the desire for the pleasure that the other brings to you?
Baruch: aren’t the two always a little related?
Gottfried: the first matters more than the second because the desire is not sufficient insofar as once satisfied, it disappears.
Baruch: then it comes back but I will grant you that, without feeling of benevolence, if only out of the selfish necessity to preserve this half which makes us whole, love is a lure.
Gottfried: so for Baruche, what do you plan to do?
Baruch: I want first to persuade her to come join me here because she does not know that in summer, it is less cold than she thinks and that above all, my friends could be hers. Then we’ll see.
Gottfried: did you tell her all that?
Baruch: yes, of course, she even urged me to leave but she didn’t promise me anything.
Gottfried: she’s thinking. The female species need time to make up its mind but that she pushed you seems to show that she cares about you. In this case, she wanted less to get rid of you than to see you happy, even if it meant suffering if she really loves you. Doesn’t it seem to you that your two decisions complement each other?
Baruch: you make me feel a lot better, dear Gottfried. Would you speak knowingly?
Gottfried: it took me weeks and weeks to conquer Birdee. I thought I would lose my voice. She was listening to me and wasn’t pushing me away but she was also letting me go elsewhere.
Baruch: so you advise me patience and perseverance?
Gottfried: is it not what defines you? It should be easy.
Baruch: it’s easy to catch fish but with Baruche, it’s different; she confuses me and makes me lose my mind.
Gottfried: so take advantage of it, it has been a long time since you were troubled, right?
Baruch: yes, that’s true, but I’m not sure I’m that wise as you are right now.
Gottfried: being wise and being in love, it hardly goes together!
How can we define love?
For Baruch, it is a joy caused by the existence of the other but because the other can change or disappear, it is also a worry that causes pain. Because of the selfishness always latent in love, it must be tested by trials and time to verify and ensure its quality.
For Gottfried, it is the meeting of the half that we lacked but there is two kinds of love: one which is related to desire because the other is seen as a source of pleasure, and one which relates to kindness because the other is seen as someone to whom we want to be kind. Only the last is true because it is the only one that can last when the desire disappears.
Is love always selfish, even in sacrifice?
Can we love someone else without loving ourselves first?
Want to think a little more? See, for example, The Symposium, a dialogue with several voices that allows Plato to explore the nature and the benefits of love.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Baruch and Gottfried? Their favorite books are in the domain library.