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Rawlins Gilliland: Life And Love

Spring’s in the air - literally, in fact. On this actual first day of Spring, commentator and poet Rawlins Gilliland takes a fresh look at life and love.

The season of Spring is to poets what Christmas is to retailers; the quarter of the year that replenishes lagging romantic prophets.  In my mind, it’s a time when hibernating dormant emotions awaken and erupt in syncopated joy reminiscent of Al Green’s classic song, "Love and Happiness."  Which begs the question, paraphrasing another poet’s sentiments:  ‘How may we define love?  Let me count the ways’. 

I’d begin that sensuous census by suggesting that, when it comes to loving others, flying in the face of convention does not make one an unmanned drone striking enemy territories.  Having grown up surrounded by artists, I saw ample evidence at a young age that interpersonal relationships have as many faces as the month of May has botanicals. Sensing early on that feelings of love were fluid in my heartland gene pool, I swam into safe harbor adulthood despite navigating some dire straits.  As a gay man, my spiritual life-vest became repeating this mantra; that my only ‘choice’ was to reject the subterfuge of living or loving a lie. 

Other loves without borders include the intimate bond between humans and another species.  Often, we’re the only soul whose personal life is shared with that horse or bird or cat or dog who speaks to us in their other-world guardian angelic dialect. They are friends with whom I feel a kinship otherwise only imagined in the hereafter where I never walk alone.  This ethereal connection explains how, when saying goodbye to an animal in death, we suffer love’s wounded loss never more alone. 

A parent’s devotion to their progeny should be the obvious Best of Show winner at any unconditional love fest.  Although I’ve met tiresome grownups who hated a parent, until it’s too late, and tireless parents who regretted having kids - until they became grandparents.  I recall a passionless mother advising her child to “never love anything that cannot love you back."  She naturally spoke of inanimate things, including houses.  But have you looked at a house that once had life in it and watched it, after being abandoned, implode in decay as if dying of a broken heart?  Automobiles may not be visibly alive but I’ve had more than one I considered marriage material.

If music cannot love us back, why then do we feel such passion listening to it? I’d venture that music makes love to us because great composers transcribe love’s aphrodisiac into an audio elixir.  It may appear to be metaphorical but when someone sings, "I Love Paris," they may mean it; that a city or place evokes an era when adventure was its own conjugal seduction. 

Are we not all potential poets as Spring reconsiders love’s reincarnations?  Since "hope springs eternal when Spring hops external," why play it safe when April’s star turn is ready for its close-up?  Even when the poetic promise of renewed life and new love might well be false, what prosaic fool would dare risk having never loved again!

Rawlins Gilliland is a writer from Dallas.