Friday, November 20, 2009

All You Need is Love

By Josh Barkey 

You have heard it said by the Beatles not so long ago, "all you need is love". And verily I say unto you - this is true, and good. Love is the source of all that truly is, 'tis true. Without love, there is nothing. Nihilo. Nada.

If you are the world's deepest thinker, and can fathom all great mysteries and have set up a row of metaphysical ducks so firmly and perfectly that not a one can be knocked off (except by the imperfect logic of your jealous intellectual inferiors) but have not love... you are zippo. And if you can sing like Lauren Hill... and I'm talking Lauren Hill killing you softly... but haven't got love, you're just a freaking cymbal at a gong show. If you can bake the world's most delicious pie - so good that your brother would sell his birthright to get it (with ice cream, of course) - but you didn't have love, then you might as well be baking cow pies and garnishing them with rabbit turds.

Love is truth. Love is what God is. All you need is love - yes! But what does this mean now, today? That IS the question, because while love is always the same (it is), now is always changing, convoluted definitions as it goes. You might think this a reason to despair, wondering how you can ever fathom such a mystery as this (what with being in the thinking department but an ant, or perhaps a somewhat clever marsupial). This is where I (lovingly) come in. I will tell you what love is. So that you will know.

Love is patient. Love is willing to wait for love to win, for Truth to out. Love does this because love knows, really knows on a soul level, that love already has won, and that we happen to just be stuck, temporarily, in the poopy details of that victory.

Love is kind. That is to say, love is not mean. This is because love realizes that every other person has a whole big wide self, as big as my own self, that is as big and fragile and complex and beautiful and glorious, and love seeks to expand that other self towards greater and greater semblance of its True nature, by and through love. Love is really big on other people, and says nice things about and to them as often as love thinks of it, which is pretty much all the time. That is why the trees are so beautiful. It's love saying, "hey - you're neat!"

Because love is like this, it is not rude and it is never a selfish bastard. In fact, love is no kind of bastard at all, because it is the very essence of legitimacy, in that it is legitimate unto itself - by which I mean to say that it lacks for nothing but what it in itself is - which means that it can and does afford to forgive relentlessly and immediately anything it encounters that isn't measuring up. Love is eternal, see, while not-love is just a frippery we cannot like or understand that somehow (for now, I guess) gives form and context to love. It's a ying-yang, chiaroscuro thing that we'll only ever going to "get" a tiny glimpse of - like the bits you can see through an old, thick-glass leaded window. This doesn't matter, though, because love contextualizes not-love, which (for now, I guess) is enough.

As a result, love doesn't have to go prancing around in its underpants going "look at me! Look at me! I'm the cat's meow AND its pajamas!" Love is humble in the way that only true greatness can be: not self loathing at all, but rather loving itself so fully and perfectly, with such crystalline clarity, that it is able to perfectly love all others. Love doesn't gloat about how super-gra-apple-fritter-awesome pants it is (it is) - instead it rejoices in the truth. It sees the truth about everything and just LOVES it! It sees that folks are wonderful, and brilliantly put together, and complete in a way that cannot be augmented, ever, by anything that could be bought with a Mastercard. It doesn't require the destruction or diminishing of other people or things in order to increase (which it really can't/needn't do), so instead it protects and cherishes them.

It protects the environment, for instance, not out of some sort of guilt or fear of a future cataclysm, but because the environment is AWESOME, in the most awe-inspiring sense of that word. It perseveres in this attitude towards people, and things, and everything, because... well, just because that's the way it is. It's circular. Like a carousel. All good things.

A small child once told me that the most important thing is love. I wanted to say, "but what about not being a pissant and wrecking the earth in a consumer-driven, apathetic, self-worshiping drive for meaningless titillation?" Then I thought, "no. No. The kid's right. Love IS the most important thing. Or perhaps, just maybe, the only thing.

Josh Barkey is an author, painter, teacher and champion tree climber who lives in a shed in North Carolina, writing expansively on whatever comes to mind at

His current writing project is a spiritual memoir with the rough working title of "Anatomy of an Effup: How One Artist Lost His Wife, His Religion, and Most of His Fear", which he is currently posting in serial form on his blog.

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