“Love is so short, forgetting is so long.” – From the poem Tonight I Can Write by Pablo Neruda
The other day, I was walking down the street after a hectic day of trying to follow through on all the promises I had made to others, to somehow hold up my part of various relationships, and forever trying to be the servant leader in action. I was grappling with how I felt like a servant to many and a leader to none. As I glanced up, I saw a father and daughter walking toward me hand in hand. She was walking with a spritely gait in her neon green clogs, he looked like a transplant from the last World Cup soccer team. I captured a snippet of their conversation as they, passed. “I think she loved you too much.” She was giving her father advice at the tender age of six or seven.
I wondered to myself, what does a first-grader know of love, and how could she speak with such authority? She was adamant and self-assured in her assessment. That conversation has been rolling around in my head ever since and I’ve been thinking about what does loving someone too much actually mean? Working in the opera business, I am often surrounded with characters that either love too much or love too little. When two characters get together and both love too much, it is inevitable that death of one or the other or both ensues (Manon Lescaut). If the combination is that one loves too much and one loves too little, that unrequited love results in death by a broken heart or by madness (Immolation Scene from Gotterdammerung, Lucia di Lammermoor). If two people get together who love too little, lying, cheating and scheming is sure to follow (Don Pasquale). There is always the possibility that two people will find each other that love each other “just right” and in the opera world, that is just plain boring. Sparks don’t fly, passion never ensues, and the plot can only be salvaged by the right dose of comedic distraction (Barber of Seville).
I wonder if dispensing love advice by a six year-old is a bit like the story of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. Perhaps we are all Goldie Locks wandering lost in the forest, looking for a safe, nurturing place. Just at that moment when we have given up hope of ever finding our way out of the dense darkness, we stumble upon a haven, a promise of domestic tranquility. Perhaps it was as easy for the daughter to look at her father and equate love to the three bowls of porridge, one is too hot and one is too cold, and only one is just right. Or perhaps we have to try it on for size, like sitting in the three different chairs. One might swallow you up, the other break into pieces from your weight and only one will hold you in its arms without harm. If love comes in three sizes: too much, too little, and just right, how do we find the right size? Perhaps it is as easy as believing in fairy tales or believing in the wisdom of a six year-old or perhaps it is as simple as finding the right dose of comedic distraction. The one thing I do know, is that too much will always be better than not enough; and if just right is waiting, far away in a forest, somewhere, I’ll have to hone my orienteering skills while being on the lookout for bears.
© Kelly Tweeddale 2012