Xavier Jared


Two brothers on personal development, philosophy, and being awesome

Know Your Foundations


The common idea that love is this big unknowable thing that defies definition is wrong. This is not to say that the feeling of love does not exist, but rather that the idea that we can not know where it comes from, or that it is unconditional, or not understandable, is incorrect.

To use love as a shortcut to describe a feeling, you need to understand the longer road that it is shortcutting. You need to understand the foundations. To know something so thoroughly that you know it warts and all, and to know that the sum of these attributes, good and bad, is of immense benefit to yourself: that is love.

By taking love for granted, you accept a very narrow, conditioned implementation of love. This is the love of Hollywood and romance novels. I do not want to disparage that here, but think what conceptions of love lie outside this scope if you stop to study it? Could you deeply love yourself? Could you deeply love more than one person? Could you deeply love the world and everything in it?

There is no unexplainable magic in love nor passion. To say there is to commit the same mistake of the creationists, who believe that the world is such a mind-bogglingly complex place that surely it was created by an unknowable force beyond our comprehension. This is on the surface far more alluring and mystical compared to the idea that the complexity of all nature can be explained by extrapolating out extremely simple interactions, but that surface is misleading. There is a perception that somehow if you can explain something it loses its beauty, but I argue the opposite. Is not the sum of simple processes creating oceans, forests, glaciers, sky scrapers, spaceships, humans—is not that the most awe inspiring idea of all?

In the same way, to say you love something in an unknowing, unchallengeable way is the same as building a house without knowing the ground you are building on. It may be solid, but how much of your life are you willing to commit to such a large unknown? Real, unshakeable love breaks down into small identifiable blocks, like respect for someone’s world view, the way they phrase sentences, or their ability to cook and share tasty meals. The blocks will not be the same for everyone, but there will be blocks.

Knowing what these blocks are does not “destroy the magic”; in fact for me it does the opposite. The assurance and conviction of having checked every premise on my own terms increases the intensity. There are no holes of knowledge, there are no nagging doubts; any doubts have been explored, dissected, turned around and shaken out. If they still exist they are plastered on the wall, in full view, with the full knowledge of what they are, where they come from, and why they continue to exist.

This applies not only personal relationships, but every relationship. To my work, to my family, to my environment, to my food, to my clothes. I can see that you have a house and I will call it a house with no concern for its construction, but if I am to have a house of my own, piece of mind comes from knowing all its foundations and ensuring they are solid.

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