There is a love poem by Pablo Neruda, the late Chilean activist, poet and Nobel laureate.
It’s called “I do not love you except because I love you.”
Maybe it’s not a love poem. Maybe it’s a truth poem. It’s a poem about the truth of human nature. It’s a poem written by a man who seems to be able to accept the truth of his own nature and so understands ours.
Maybe it is a love poem after all. Maybe it’s a love poem about the truth of us all. Imagine if we could be in love with the truth of ourselves?
I wonder what it would be like if I could. Be in love with the truth of myself. Be in love with the truth of yourself. Sometimes I can. Sometimes I can’t.
I’m so many contradictions all in one place. We’re so many contradictions all in one place.
“I do not love you except because I love you” by Pablo Neruda
I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.
I love you only because it’s you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.
In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.
A wise woman said to me the other day, “We have to accept ourselves. We have to love ourselves. And the fact of the matter is, all of us say to ourselves, once in a while, f–k the planet: I want a f–king hamburger.” My wise friend and I had been talking about the fact that beef production is a top cause of climate change.
The human spirit is terrible and awful and destructive but it’s also large and expansive and wonderful. Sometimes it is because of the frustration of its largeness, expansiveness and wonderfulness that it becomes terrible and awful and destructive.
I have to remind myself to be careful when I talk of the limits we need to place on ourselves. We are in a planetary emergency, yes. We all know that. But another wise friend said the iPod, for example, is going to have to get a pass when it comes to reduction in material and energy throughput.
Over and over in trying to understand our planetary dilemma, I have to be reminded that we can’t forget the fun. The affirmation of the human spirit. This problem we face is not so simple. This problem we face is the fullness of ourselves.
In this poem, Pablo Neruda sounds as though he understands us. In understanding us, he seems to love us. If we are going to save ourselves, we also are going to have to love us. And accept us. And be truthful about us.
How strange to realize that if I really want to understand you–if we really want to understand each other–I have to understand myself. Yet I frighten myself. We frighten ourselves. I don’t want to face myself.
Am I willing to face myself? Are we willing to face ourselves?
Photo courtesy of Wood S. Lot.