Get to “I Love You,” Cosmic Version
We’ve been saying over the past couple of weeks that the dramatic arcs of many, many novels and movies can be seen as simply
Get to “I love you.”
Start with two characters who are as far apart as they can be (or are indifferent or utterly resistant to one another), then bring them together somehow over the course of the story so that by the final moment they connect truly on the deepest, most intimate level.
The next question is, “Why does this work?”
Why does it always work?
Here’s my answer on the cosmic level:
I think “Get to ‘I love you’” is the prime spiritual imperative of human life itself.
One of the great “Get to ‘I love you’s’” in recent films is the final moment in Logan. Do you know the movie? It’s the concluding episode in the X-Men Wolverine saga, starring Hugh Jackman as the steel-clawed mutant who is too isolated, too traumatized, too dark to care or to love.
Now in this final instalment, in his most-human-like form as “Logan,” he shares a geographic and emotional odyssey with a young mutant girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), who also possesses the Wolverine claws and the Wolverine fury, having been laboratory-conceived and laboratory-bred from Logan’s own DNA.
But Laura loves him. He’s a father figure to her. She needs him. She wants to help him. She becomes attached to him.
Logan/Wolverine resists young Laura throughout the story until finally finally finally, after saving her from the Bad Guys … and having allowed her at last into his cold, bitter heart, with his terminal breath he declares
So this is what it feels like.
And he dies.
He dies happy, or at least at peace.
I think that’s the journey of every human. It’s Odysseus’ journey, it’s Hamlet’s, it’s Henry Miller’s. It’s yours and mine.
If you follow this blog, you know that I believe life happens on two levels—the material plane and the plane of the soul.
On the material level, we show up in physical form as isolated individuals. I can hurt you and it won’t hurt me. I can ignore you and it won’t hurt me. I can kill you and it won’t hurt me.
But on the cosmic plane, the laws are different.
We’re all one on that plane.
All souls are interconnected and interdependent.
If I hurt you, it hurts me, etc.
I don’t know why all of us or any of us were put here or appeared here on this dark and brutal plane, unless it was … maybe … to learn that lesson. To make that breakthrough to love.
To live by the laws of the higher plane here on the lower.
That’s what stories are about, if you ask me. That’s their purpose. That’s why we need them. They’re here to show us, to inspire us to get to “I love you.”
Interesting too, isn’t it, how many of the most moving stories end with the principal character, the hero, sacrificing his or her life … all she has, all she will ever have … for love, for another human being. And that that sacrifice is, in the story, the ultimate act of self-realization and fulfilment.
So this is what it feels like.
He got to “I love you.”
Wow. What a post. Existential and profound. I guess ‘I love you’ on the higher plane really is arriving at loving oneself, finally? Which, after all, seems to be one of the hardest things in life, and far harder than loving another person. And loving oneself, well, that means loving and bonding with all of creation and all beings, friend and foe alike?
Like all Steve’s posts, he’s raised more questions than he’s answered, and set us off on a trajectory of pondering, wondering and wandering.
What a beautiful, thought-provoking post! This is what we all to aspire to, not just as writers, but as human beings. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time. Thank you, Steve!
Knocked that one right out of the park Steve.
This is so powerful. This has been my philosophy forever. So sad that so many people don’t get this. But everyone on your blog are so positive. This is the highest goal that we should all shoot for.
Steven, you are an inspiration. Thank you.
What?!? Wolverine dies? How dare you spoil the ending!
This sums up my spiritual practice for nearly the last 9 years since I learned meditation from a dear friend and mentor. He said the same thing. I can feel the truth in these words now just as I did then. Love is the way
As EH said, “The true gen.”
This made me think of Stranger in a Strange Land, which had the additional “bonus” of an alien (to earthlings) form of communion after the hero’s willing sacrifice.
Steven! – That’s just so profound and insightful. I’ve almost died twice (near death experience and all that). What you laid out here is completely consistent with those experiences. I’ve never seen it put into words so well.
“There’s no living with a killing,…There’s no going back from it. Right or wrong, it’s a brand, a brand that sticks. There’s no going back. Now, you run on home to your mother and tell her, tell her everything’s alright, and there aren’t any more guns in the valley.”
The bible says God is love, that is the fuel that keeps me going.
The Big Bank perhaps was an act of love.
Some people find love in concentration camps under the worst conditions possible.
Love is what this great country of ours needs for each other.
One of your very best posts. Nailed it.
Can the love you get to be self love? I’m guessing yes.
Yes, yes – always the dance of the physical vs. the cosmic plane. I know it’s part of my life to make my way with this. I think that is why a good story leads us through this journey. It represents a point of view, and a character’s way of how they got to their own transcendent “I love you,” and then we are touched because this resonates through the part of us that is so often hiding behind our ego/beliefs/shortcomings/fears. Anything that reminds me or brings me to this is worth my attention.
I’ve been ruminating over the ending of a story and man did this post help get me thinking. Thanks as always Coach!
“There’s no living with a killing,..There’s no going back from it. Right or wrong, it’s a brand, a brand that sticks. There’s no going back. Now, you run on home to your mother and tell her, tell her everything’s alright, and there aren’t any more guns in the valley.”
For all of us who believes ‘The opposite of fear is love’; this makes perfect sense.
In her wonderful book, HEART MINDED, Sarah Blondin shares this poem Hafiz poem, I HEARD GOD LAUGHING: “We should talk about this problem: There is a beautiful creature, Living in a hole you have dug. So late at night I set fruits and grains And little pots of milk Beside your soft earthen mounds. and I often sing. But still, my dear, You do not come out. I have fallen in love with Someone Who hides inside you. We should talk about this – Otherwise, I will never leave you alone.”
Sarah also writes in her book: “The unharnessed mind will keep trying to get in the way of our heart centered, heart minded self.”
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds. ~Marcus Garvey~
First thought: “What? Jesus-died-for-you-therefore-you-have-to-suffer again?”. Second thought: “That’s obvious, every teenager thinks of it and even animals sacrifice themselves for the greater population if necessary”. A truth of two edges, too often and easily used for propaganda.
As someone who lives, writes, and works on both “planes”, this is one of your most powerful posts Steve. The simple, profound, precise truth of human existence.
Wonderful, wonderful post, the best of yours I’ve read yet. And what was so wonderful about it? You got to “I love you.” I wholeheartedly believe in that soul plane of existence too.Yes. “I love you” is the purpose of stories.
Thank you mr. Steven,
my first thought is that the word love is misused. They even connect chocolates (they’re just cocoa and sugar) and candies with it! And the meanings it takes are so many that we use it more like a symbol-of-many-turns and less like a specific truth. But there, we all want to feel that vague thing: It’s like our loving mother’s hug in the house that she keeps clean and with all bills payed for us, when we are sick or got the worst grades at school. It may be that we need that hug to feel safe against all threats.
Love is beautiful and I’m pretty sure (emotionally) that we can give it even more names like cosmos or “the flow” or who knows what on that other place, that plane of the soul. I think it’s crucial to seperate it – even by changing its name – from all commercial “loves” out there. They are a different thing. The one love may be the wholehearted search for the meaning – in mind and body and heart – of existence, and the others may be just small win-oriented results.
And thanks for the x-men stuff… haven’t seen them for a long time… Im getting the 3 best of them now, waiting for resistance’s head to stare at me with a big clever laugh behind the megabites 😉
You put your finger tip right on the point. simple and elegant. Thank you.
Yes, thank you. That is the best human journey we can make and the one we as a species desperately need to make now or else it will spell our doom, as it does in so many stories where some character fails to make the journey: “To make that breakthrough to love.” I love your courage and clarity in spelling this out so clearly for us, as writers, as humans.
I read this initially this morning on my phone after meeting a buddy for a walk along the Puget Sound.
In my car.
And I wept.
The world was just waking up, and I’m in my car with tears running down my face.
Read it again this afternoon with all the terrific comments. Powerful JuJu. Didn’t cry this time, but felt renewed.
Thank you for synthesizing life into a 553-word post.
I can’t remember NOT loving one of Steve’s posts, so I don’t usually weigh in to tell him how much I did. But when I saw your comment, Brian — that he’d synthesized life into this one — I thought, “Maybe I should read it again.”
So I did.
What struck me after I finished this time was how my husband doesn’t necessarily say “I love you” with flowers or whatever. But the other day, when I asked him where he thinks his open-mindedness comes from, he gave me the credit. He said I’m constantly expanding his worldview and added, “You’re a thought provoker.” Who needs roses when I have the look on his face as he tells me something I didn’t know about either one of us?
Now I see what you’re saying, Brian. And many thanks to you, Steve…as usual!
Well said. Thank you.
And isn’t that what happens here, with your posts and our comments.
We get to ‘I love you.’
“Some people never say the words ‘I love you’, but like a child they’re longing to be told.” (lyric from a Paul Simon song)
A great post; I’ve been interested in this idea since your first a couple weeks ago and it’s gotten me thinking about my current story project. I haven’t given as much thought to that endpoint of the story arc as I should–but I definitely agree, getting to “I love you” represents something primal in all of us. An ultimate objective worth striving for, no matter how long it takes to realize. Even if it takes until our final moment.
I am so inspired by this blog that I wished I could make the 2 protagonists in my WiP break up. I realize, however, that the woman’s quest is to reunite with her parents, to make them love her again after they inaccurately blamed her for the death of her sister. Does that count?
What a beautiful post! So inspiring! Thank you, Steven!
All…that…trouble….just for….’I love you.’
Silly human beings that we are.
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