Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Love (Joni Mitchell)

So... Valentine's Day is in a bit more than a week - figured I'd spend the next ten days talking about the most discussed... the most misunderstood... the most necessary topic of all time: LOVE!

I recall when the link to the following article was posted to the Joni-list 4 years ago (and then added to the jonimitchell.com library) - it struck me then and it strikes me now (very Cupid's-arrow). Since I already used Both Sides Now
as the title for a previous blog, thought I'd share her version of Corinthians-set-to-music today. Joni - I've loved *all* sides of her since 1968 (my freshman year of high school... :-)

P.S. Thanks, AW, for encouraging me to check out more Joy Harjo - I can see why she's your favorite...

I really don't know love at all

Duffy Robinson
Sun Star Alaska
February 8, 2004

I thought I hated Valentine's Day.

The crass commercialism still makes me retch, and I simply do not understand why stores feel compelled to put up their Valentine's displays in December, but the actual day itself, I've discovered, isn't on "the list."

Did Hallmark get to me? Are they now, at this very moment, holding a pink, beflowered gun to my head? No, the patent holder of pre-packaged love had nothing to do with my change of heart; it is all Joni Mitchell's fault.

Relatively early in her career, Mitchell proclaimed to the world that she didn't really understand love all that much. "It's love's illusions that I recall," she admitted, "I really don't know love at all."

Mitchell was accosted for having the audacity at such an early age to claim that she had "looked at love from both sides."

The criticism was silly, petty. Love is one of the most fundamental and yet complex emotions humans have to deal with. The sooner we find the courage to admit that we really don't understand love, the better.

Complacency is the killer of relationships, especially those involving some form of love. We cannot slip into the rut of assuming we know everything there is to know about the love in our life. Constant evaluation of our relationships is crucial to the health of those relationships. We have to be willing, even at an early age as Mitchell did, to look at love from both sides. We need to understand the people we love, why we love them, and make sure that we don't lose the love.

And love does not get any easier the older you get.

In 2000 Mitchell recorded her song a second time. Now in her 50's, Mitchell reexplored the words of her childhood. The song had a deeper poignancy, perhaps, sung by a woman wearied by the years, but again the theme was the same: even now she doesn't understand love.

As we get older and change, our relationships change. And, again, they require constant evaluation. Love is made up of many facets: sexual passion, deep respect, admiration, trust, affection, devotion, tenderness. Without all these attributes no love is complete. But how much power any one of these holds in a particular relationship can change. If the relationship is truly worth it, we need to be willing to roll with those punches - admit, understand, and adapt to those changes.

That's where Valentine's Day comes in. Any day that makes us stop and think about love is a glorious thing. In a perfect world we wouldn't need Valentine's Day to remind us to evaluate our relationships, but this simply isn't a perfect world. We so often get caught up with the frantic mad-dash of life that we need days put aside to perform preventative maintenance on our many relationships.

So this Valentine's Day, fine, ignore the commercialism if you wish, boycott the candy stores and burn a Hallmark card or two. But take a moment - a long moment - to dissect your relationships with your girlfriend, your mother, your best friend, your husband, your wife, anyone you love. Make sure the love is still strong, that you understand what it means to love and be loved.

If we don't, all we'll have are love's illusions; we really won't know love all at.

Love by Joni Mitchell

BOOK: Made for Each Other by William Steig

POEM: This is My Heart by Joy Harjo

This is my heart. It is a good heart.
Bones and a membrane of mist and fire
are the woven cover.
When we make love in the flower world
my heart is close enough to sing
to yours in a language that has no use
for clumsy human words.

My head is a good head, but it is a hard head
and it whirs inside with a swarm of worries.
What is the source of this singing, it asks
and if there is a source why can't I see it
right here, right now as real
as these hands hammering
the world together
with nails and sinew?

This is my soul. It is a good soul.
It tells me, "come here forgetful one."
And we sit together with a lilt of small winds
who rattle the scrub oak.
We cook a little something
to eat: a rabbit, some sofkey
then a sip of something sweet
for memory.

This is my song. It is a good song.
It walked forever the border of fire and water
climbed ribs of desire to my lips to sing to you.
Its new wings quiver with

Come lie next to me, says my heart.
Put your head here.
It is a good thing, says my soul.

QUOTE: "Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place." ~ Zora Neale Hurston

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