Everything is Illuminated~Do we love or do we just love the idea of love?

I read this book a bit too fast for my liking over the past weekend. Especially for these longer books I try to take my time, but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed the tale in itself as well as the highly personable and charismatic story-telling. There is so much voice in this book, from so many different angles, that it morphs into something beyond a simple book: a reminder and almost replacement for our own memories and histories. I dare you to read this book and not feel with the characters.

Anyhow, since age eleven or so, I’ve always written down quotes from my favorite books into a small green leather notebook, that is sadly starting to show signs of its age and my all-enduring affection of what’s written within its pages. Inevitably, a book with such strength and character necessitates a couple of quotes to get jotted into my little book, and here is one of my favorites below:

“She loved herself in love, she loved loving love, as love loves loving, and was able, in that way, to reconcile herself with a world that fell so short of what she would have hoped for. It was not the world that was the great and saving lie, but her willingness to make it beautiful and fair, to live a once-removed life, in a world once-removed from the one in which everyone else seemed to exist.”

Gah. Brod (the speaker) in this section of the book inspired, saddened, and astounded me all in one ball of literary delight and mental pleasure. What a strong character. But this reminds me so much of myself and many others that I just had to talk about it. Once you get past the use of love in at least three different definitions of the word, essentially Brod is so in love with the idea of love, that she cannot accept the real thing to be love. What a sad existence! But haven’t we all experienced this sense of expectation, and inevitable disappointment? I mean, that’s the big draw to growing up, isn’t it? The realization that our ideals don’t always match up with reality. In fact, they rarely do. And thus the main struggle in life is to somehow reconcile the two to each other: can our dreams and our real lives sync up? Can we ignore our dreams completely? Or do we live in a world composed entirely of our ideals, and accept that it is not reality? Do we love because we are afraid that we will not be loved? Or do we love because we are more “in love” with the idea of love (supposed eternal happiness and satisfaction)? Do we pretend to love only so we can purposefully ignore and deny that love is not everything we thought it would be?

I think that this is one of my greatest fears: that reality will disappoint my expectations, or that I will somehow be unable to cope with the idea that no matter how wonderful this world is, it is still not what I desire it to be, and the greatest stroke of terror in that truth is that perhaps I am the only one with these ideals, and while I may try to morph the world into something I can delight in, will I be all alone?

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About Angela

Editor, bookbinder, and writer.

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