Kent Bernhardt: The great mystery of love

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 14, 2016

I’m going to write a book about love one day.  It will be filled with nothing but questions.

Since the dawn of humanity, mankind has struggled with this thing called love.  Who do we love?  Why do we love?  How do we show love?  When is it okay to watch football instead of paying attention to the person we love?

Many songs have been written about love.  We have been told through music that it is a many splendored thing, that it hurts, that she loves you — yeah, yeah, yeah, and that birds do it, bees do it — even educated fleas do it.

Don’t tell Hallmark about the educated fleas.  They’ll start up an entire new line of Valentine cards.

I am still asked to sing at weddings from time to time, and I’m always amazed at the songs couples want me to croon on their special day.  Years ago, one pair of newlyweds asked me to sing “I Honestly Love You,” which was a hit song for Olivia Newton John at the time.  It was considered one of the great love longs of the ’70s.

I was never quite sure why they would want me to sing the words “If we both were born in another place and time, this moment might be ending with a kiss.  But there you are with yours, and here I am with mine, so I guess we’ll just be leaving it at this.”

Their marriage didn’t work out, so I guess the song turned out to be more appropriate than they realized at the time.

Many more songs have been written about our feelings when love doesn’t work out.  Most of those are country songs designed to swirl around in our brain while consuming huge amounts of alcohol.

Hank Williams gave us the classic “There’s a Tear In My Beer,” where he shares “Into these last nine beers I have shed a million tears.”  And he doesn’t seem concerned about stopping at nine.

Fortunately, a million tears would dilute the alcohol content somewhat.  His salt intake might go up, however.

I’ve looked at love from both sides now … oh nuts, I’m quoting another song.

What I mean to say is, I’ve loved a few times in my life, and there isn’t a better feeling in the world when it is going well.  There isn’t a worse feeling in the world when it is not, with the possible exception of a kidney stone.

But in my 60 trips around the sun, I have learned that love is not a feeling.  Wonderful feelings can come from love, but love itself can exist even when it seems unable to move the needle.

One of my favorite moments in the 1946 movie “The Best Years of Our Lives” occurs during a discussion between a father, mother, and their teenage daughter.

The exasperated teenager exclaims “You can’t possibly know how I feel because you never had any trouble in your relationship!”

The father smiles, looks at the mother and, speaking to her says something I’ve never forgotten:

“We never had any trouble.  How many times have I told you I hated you and believed it in my heart?  How many times have you said you were sick and tired of me; that we were all washed up?  How many times have we had to fall in love all over again?”

No, love is not a feeling, it’s a journey.  It’s even a roller coaster ride at times.

It raises you to the highest peaks and drops you into the deepest valleys.  It makes your stomach weak as it jerks you around like a rag doll.  And even when it ends, something inside of us wants to do it all over again.

“That’s the glory of – that’s the story of love.”

Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.

 

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