The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.
I still wish I wrote that line, shouted with bone-chilling intensity at the close of "Moulin Rouge." But I rarely write about love. It's too complicated. But, then again, it's so simple. It is the greatest thing you'll ever learn. It is all that really matters. It is what keeps you going, hoping, dreaming, breathing. It is the core of life. It is so simple, but we people, we make it so very complicated.
Like I said, I rarely write about love. Wait, I never write about love. And as
I was listening to Inara George's solo debut, All Rise a gorgeous
and moving collection of love songs I thought, why not? What better inspiration
is there than love? Ask any songwriter, and the answer surely is "none."
I like to think of myself as a fairly smart girl with a good head on her shoulders and a decent heart in her chest. I like to think I mostly understand what is and what is not important in life. I'm pretty reasonable and make pretty rational decisions in life. But, when it comes to love, I am a complete idiot.
You might be thinking, "Aren't we all?" Sure, but to different degrees. I am, no doubt, in the red zone. And I'm pretty sure, while listening to her dreary but poignant set of heart-wrenching songs, that George is too.
"Fools in love/ Is there any other/ Kind of pain?" George's whispery coo asks, as if she's given up, on the fragile and acquiescent "Fools in Love."
"Fools in love/ Are there any other creatures/ More pathetic?" she later continues,
her detached voice cracking in disappointment behind dreamy acoustic strings.
I've made a lot of bad decisions out of love, or perhaps lack thereof. I've given myself too many reasons to wish I could set back the clock, and I've found myself in too many situations I'm still begging to understand.
I want to make sense of the choices I've made where love is concerned. I want
to justify hurting the people I've hurt, want to defend the people who have hurt
me, want to suggest it's all good learning in the end and I'm a better, stronger
person because of it.
"What have I put you through?/ No, I've been good to you/ Haven't I been good to you?" she pleads, her sweet voice lilting while obviously yearning to convince not her lover but herself on the sad, mid-tempo "Fools Work."
I want to convince myself there's good reason too. But why do I still feel lost, why do I feel like I'm doing it all over again, repeating the same mistakes I've made so many times before? What am I waiting for?
"I want a big surprise/ I want a remedy," George exclaims on the chugging, upbeat pop song "What a Number."
"I could be wrong/ I could be right/ For the rest of time," she later adds atop spacey effects and emotional violin cries.
Right or wrong, I guess I'm waiting for life to happen to me. I'm tired of making big decisions and then backing out on them. Why bother with all the pain and upset if I'm only going to let my knees buckle in the end? And who am I to determine someone else's destiny anyway?
"Everyone has moments like these/ I don't want to talk about it," George concedes on the beautiful, piano-led "A Day."
And I don't, not really, not here, not in print. How can you really talk about what you don't understand? How can one of the simplest things in life cause so much confusion?
Maybe it's just you. Maybe it's just them. Maybe things will change. Maybe you'll lose. Maybe you'll hurt. Maybe you'll regret. Maybe you're not ready. Maybe if things stayed consistent, if you stayed the same, ever felt the goddamn same, then maybe, just maybe, you could figure it out and get to wherever it is you think you need to be.
Or maybe if you just strip away your mind's stupid need to analyze and understand, and the relationship's tendency to shade clarity, you could find that easy place love resides.
"I feel the wind push the car and look at you again/ When you turn to me and ask me what I think/ I nod and then I sing along/ To all the songs you like," she sings with a soft, skipping sort of happiness on the delicate, rollicking "Good to Me."
"…I fall asleep like some airplane crashed/ You drive a little more/ So you don't have to wake me up."
And in something as small and simple as that, you know it's love. But is it fleeting? Is it right, is it lasting? You can't squeeze logic around love. They say you just know. They say, like music, it's universal.
"Everybody knows/ When will you know?/ When will you know?" George asks from the distance, drowned out by watery keys on the fitting closer "Everybody Knows."
I don't know. I suppose we'll toil in the confusion of questioning or hide in the acceptance of denial until then. It's OK, so long as I get to learn the greatest thing I'll ever learn… eventually.