Observations on the What is Love? A talk about philosophy & love, at a charming little town in Northern California.
By Lupita Peimbert
( Love & Sex) – Two philosophy professors and researchers talked about love last night at the First Friday of the Month, an event beautifully organized by the Mill Valley Library. The researchers attempted to spark community conversation while recording the nationally syndicated radio show “Philosophy Talk” that airs on National Public Radio.
Wine would be served at the end at a bar that functions as information desk during normal hours, the Library’s director said. Songs about deal-breakers and couples, and live music in the background added value to the evening.
The radio show hosts asked several times to a presumably receptive audience of about 200.
The topic, indeed provocative, attracted couples and singles, men and women, therapists, coaches and psychologists. In general, it was an audience seeking certain level of depth in a community conversation.
I arrived early enough to get a seat in the second row. For a minute I felt alone in a room full of strangers, but the friendliness of the library’s staff, the ambience, and the music soon made me feel at ease. To my right I had a sassy, beautiful elegant woman who proudly said she was 89 years old, and who confessed not having wear a dress for the last 30 years. She implied that silk makes pants and blouses way more feminine. I nodded in agreement.
Meanwhile, large pictures of Paris’ brasseries and cafes, in black and white, were being projected in the large wall in front of us. I began conversing with a couple seated to my left. She said her son is a philosophy professor as well.
–Why are they showing pictures of Paris? I asked.
–L’Amour! Her husband promptly said.
The program started soon after.
Little things heard here and there I found interesting: “Love can be lust, infatuation, or companionship,” “The levels of dopamine and serotonin increase when people are in love,” “Do we love a person because of reason or do we just love a person?”
Nothing new. But it is was good to see experts validating what is often qualified as common sense. As charming and entertaining as the show was, it was not reaching the level of depth others and I were waiting for.
The energy of the conversation went up to a higher level unexpectedly, when a member of the audience came to a microphone set up for people to ask questions.
“Love is a revolution! It comes to you like a revolution to a country. It shakes you inside because there was something missing. It comes to change you and complement you,” he said and credited his comment to an Italian book author.
I woke up. I felt a spark in my mind and a touch of the stars in my heart. Handsome and eloquent, probably on his late 60’s, the man who just spoke was the husband of the couple seated to my left. He was being a conductor for all of us to get into a deeper level of a conversation, but he was interrupted. The producer of the radio show anxiously and a bit upset said “We do not have enough time Sir, what is your question?”
I felt that the Love is a Revolution! man was almost being punished for bringing up certain level of consciousness, as if the radio show was meant to reach only a certain level of awareness, a little bit less or more, but not as much as the man in front of the microphone was suggesting.
Another person in front of the microphone, a woman, said “We are focusing only about the love felt between two people.” Then she asked: “How about love to life, to God, to the world? What are your thoughts about that?”
Towards the end, I suddenly felt sad about something said either by the hosts or the experts. Something in the lines that life is better and a person is happier when they have someone to love and love back to. As they furthered their comments, it was implied that if you are alone, your life is not as enjoyable.
Me, a sad person with a not-so-enjoyable life? Just because I am single?
I immediately thought of my being single, and my single friends, and the singles at Peet’s and Starbucks, and the singles at the Yoga class, and the hundreds of singles I see every day driving their cars or riding their bikes, or the singles at Craig’s List, Match or Eharmony, or the singles I see standing up through some avenues and boulevards looking for a job, or the millions of singles the U.S. Census shows as statistics, or the millions of singles the American Psychology Association says are now the majority in terms of marriage and divorce rates. I even thought of the millions of married people who dream of being single.
All that I felt in the 3 seconds after I heard that being alone is not the best state for a person. I was on my own at a meeting about Love.
A glass of red wine please!
And so at the end we mingled and talked and met new friends. The Mill Valley Library did a great job creating a friendly atmosphere and a delightful evening. Both the library and the radio show co-created an event that fulfilled its promise: Spark curiosity; make people think.
Sparked and all, on my way home I stopped at a local restaurant. I asked the hostess, as I often politely do, to let me decide where to seat. I ended up seated at the bar that does not look like one.
To my left, a piano player who also created software to help the mind relax. To my right, a man who said he just spoke to that girl who had been smiling at him all night. Once I mentioned the Love is a Revolution! anecdote he promptly asked if he could text that thought to someone. I repeated the whole thing while he typed what he thought of as meaningful. Hopefully he texted it right.
When I got home almost at midnight, I was happy and fulfilled. For me, after having a talk about love, meeting people, crowning my evening with pasta, wine and conversation, I was a happy single person, not a sad one.
If love is a revolution, I will certainly open my arms to it, but I won’t Occupy. I surrender to the belief that when and if it happens to me and in my country again, be it. If it doesn’t, be it. I am happy being. I am blessed already.