Issue #177 / December 2021
I’m 17 years old, what can you tell me about love?
MAURO, LEUVEN, BELGIUM
How do I not have my heart broken?
JENNY, PARIS, FRANCE
Dear Mauro and Jenny,
The surest way to avoid a broken heart is to love nothing and no-one — not your partner, your child, your mother or father, your brothers or sisters; not your friends; not your neighbour; not your dog or your cat; not your football team, your garden, your granny or your job. In short, love not the world and love nothing in it. Beware of the things that draw you to love — music, art, literature, cinema, philosophy, nature and religion. Keep your heart narrow, hard, cynical, invulnerable, impenetrable, and shun small acts of kindness; be not merciful, forgiving, generous or charitable — these acts expand the heart and make you susceptible to love — because as Neil Young so plainly and painfully sings, ‘Only love can break your heart.’ In short, resist love, because real love, big love, true love, fierce love, is a perilous thing, and travels surely towards its devastation. A broken heart — that grief of love — is always love’s true destination. This is the covenant of love.
However, Mauro, to resist love and inoculate yourself against heartbreak is to reject life itself, for to love is your primary human function. It is your duty to love in whatever way you can, and to move boldly into that love — deeply, dangerously and recklessly — and restore the world with your awe and wonder. This world is in urgent need — desperate, crucial need — and is crying out for love, your love. It cannot survive without it.
To love the world is a participatory and reciprocal action — for what you give to the world, the world returns to you, many fold, and you will live days of love that will make your head spin, that you will treasure for all time. You will discover that love, radical love, is a kind of supercharged aliveness, and all that is of true value in the world is animated by it. And, yes, heartache awaits love’s end, but you find in time that this too is a gift — this little death — from which you are reborn, time and again. I have only one piece of advice for you both, and it is the very best that I can give. Love. The world is waiting.