Monday, February 14, 2011

All About Love (A Little Hate, Too)

I've posted on holidays before, or what used to be holidays. I wrote about being grateful on Thanksgiving. I talked about the real meaning of Christmas. Today is Valentine's day. While my wife and I have rarely celebrated this holiday, I think the time is right to talk about love. Given our recent tragedy, it's fair to say that love is more important than ever. This is all from my own perspective, so please don't think I'm judging how you view the subject. I'm not. It's just my view.

It's a weird thing to think about, really. Love is such a fluid and ephemeral concept for so many of us. You think about it in many contexts, many situations. Some are common and fairly reliable, such as familial love. I love my family so much that it overwhelms me sometimes. Those are people I grew up with, who have always been there for me in my worst times. They are like other parts of me that have the same basic makeup but different experiences. Familial love, what I feel for my departed mother, my brothers and sister, nieces, nephews, uncles and aunts (though most of them died in the early days, when the zombie plague was spreading like cancer across the country) is powerful in me, and not just because it's hardwired into my genes. I've got some family that I don't feel that strong reaction toward. Mostly I do.

That's important to me, because while I don't know how it is for most people, when I say that someone is "like family", it isn't just a pleasant turn of phrase. I mean it with total sincerity. Patrick is a good example. Pat is my best friend, but my brain sees him as a brother. He's as important to me, as vital to my mental well-being, as anyone can be.

In a very broad sense, I love people. My base setting is to love everyone, to have basic respect and an open mind about them, until they give me a reason not to. Strangely, this is even extends to the zombies that swarm the walls on a daily basis. I know that sounds odd, but it's true. I can't find it in me to hate them. I see them in much the same way I would see a rabid dog or an injured bear--an object of pity, of sympathy, that is also a potentially fatal threat to my life. I do feel heartache, tiny though it might be, when I look at them. They were people once, and what has happened to them is not their fault. Since I have this general love for humanity, it's hard not to feel a little bit of it for our dead, especially those of them that walk.

I'm not going to go on and on about why I love humankind. You've read it here before. I will tell you that the practical result of that feeling is a willingness to do almost anything to save people. To protect them, kill for them, feed them, house them, teach them to do for themselves, all the while learning to do all of that stuff for me as well. It led me to bring people together to form the compound. It has pushed me into rescue missions time and again. It was there in my brain when I first crossed the moral line I swore to avoid at all costs--killing a living person--because of the terrible acts those men had committed against other people. My adoration of people has created a new morality in me--a willingness to kill those who lack the qualities I love in humanity in order to protect those who do.

I think that most people who have survived that aren't traveling across the countryside Mad Max-style have some portion of this. To live in relative peace with one another, especially under such immense stress, takes more than just willpower. It takes that mercurial and indefinable feeling that allows you to overlook the minor, embrace the flaws, and enjoy another person for who they are and not for what you think they should be: love.

Lastly...Romantic love. This one is a subject that has been in debate for as long as people have felt it, so I won't make big sweeping statements. Jess is perfect for me. I love her, and am in love with her, literally more each day. I used to think that was just a saying, a hackneyed line that writers used to make housewives read their cheap romance. It isn't. Not for me. My wife gets me like no other person ever has--no one. Not my best friends or family. We have the same sensibilities. We are both practical. She forgives my terrible qualities, and loves me despite them.

She is beautiful, and funny. Sexy and hilarious. She's the light of my life who shares my dark sense of humor. She is adorably naive at times, childlike in her innocence. She can also pull out random knowledge and hardcore pragmatism that truly astounds me. She is smart and awesome in the truest meaning of the word.

There is so much more to it. I wish that I could describe it to you, but until you feel that thrill--the excitement of just getting to come home to someone and talk about your day, even after years together, then you can't understand it. When you feel terror at the thought that they might be harmed, and a willingness to die in their place to go with it. It's so much--it fills me. She fills my heart in ways I used to think were impossible.

I've seen all types of it among the people here in North Jackson. Here and there, the deep and mesmerized stares between two people deeply in love with each other. The smiles of joy at just seeing one another.

I've seen families stick together and find happiness with one another, and take in others to join their tribe. On this medium scale, most people have found others. There are few loners left who have no adopted group to call their own.

Overall...I don't think I've ever seen a group that has as much general love for one another as the people here. I don't know if it stems from the amazing progress that has gone on, or the many tragic happenings. Jack likely had a lot to do with it, weaving among them to bring them tighter, and Susan has made that a priority. The people here understand the innate need to survive, yes, but they feel that others should do so as well--there is no selfishness to it. They will save people, help those in need, because of the love they all seem to feel towards those that have peaceful intent. It's beautiful.

Right now all of us here are united in our love and hope for those that were left behind at the compound in Frankfort. We want them to be safe and healthy...but more than anything, we want them to be free.

Seems the people here have another thing in common with me: they also have a willingness to be violent in defense of peaceful, good people. Especially against those that hold them captive.

Right now the feeling is universal in this part of the country--we don't feel too much love for the Richmond soldiers for the terror and murder they are responsible for. That should worry them.

A lot.

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