What Is Love?


What is love? What does it feel like? How does it happen? What makes us fall in love?

Lottie-Nevin-Pete-Nevin-Jakarta

I’d never planned on writing a post about love, there is plenty enough written already by wordsmiths infinitely better qualified than I, but yesterday and then again this morning, some sort of synchronicity happened that moved me to not just think about love, but has now spurred me to write about it. I can’t help but make this post personal, it is of course about my love for the Irishman, but it’s also been inspired by a short film that I watched this morning that touched me deeply and I want to share with you.

So, What is love? Love will mean many different things to all of us and really I should put this post aside and go away and think about it so that when I come back I have lots answers to this begging question. Quotes from Shakespeare, lines from love songs and references from authors, all of whom have written on this mighty subject but no; I’m an impetuous girl and while the events of yesterday and this morning are still fresh in my mind I feel impelled to write it now.

In answer to my own question, it might be easier to start with my experience over the years of learning what love is not. Love is not hurtful, love is not belittling, love is not cruel, love does not include infidelity, love is not bullying, and love is definitely neither, violent or abusive.

After my second marriage ended in May 2009, I focused on getting my life back on track. I threw myself into work, I started painting again and I also made the decision not to get involved in another relationship, at least for the foreseeable future. I had a romantic notion to buy a houseboat, and when the last of the children had left school, a plan to up sticks and move to India where I would spend the rest of my days in an ashram in meditative contemplation, eating lentils and painting. What could be simpler than that?

Except that exactly 2 weeks after my husband and I parted company, I had a phone call from one of my oldest girlfriends ‘Lottie, I’ve met someone that you are going to love, and, I know that he is going to love you too, you absolutely have to meet him!’

I was speechless and horrified in turn ‘Josephine, you are having a bloody joke! You have got to be bloody joking! Meeting another man right now is the last thing I need, I DON’T WANT TO MEET ANYONE!’

Josephine was very persistent; she wouldn’t let the matter drop. She telephoned me every evening, and every evening I gave her the same answer, NO! But Josephine was not going to take NO for an answer and after 2 weeks of her hard sell I caved in and agreed to take a train to London and go and meet this man that she said I would love and whom she claimed, would love me. I met Irishman on the 24th June 2009 at his doctoral show in London – the rest as they say is history.

Yesterday he and I celebrated him finishing the writing for his doctorate. It’s taken him 5 years, and since the time that we have been together, almost 4 years now, I have almost been as much a part of this doctorate as he has. In a way you could call it a love story, our love story. We met because of it (and of course Josephine’s canny knack of match making) we’ve worked together on it, me behind the camera or Bolex bringing his performance work to life via celluloid. We’ve spent nights sat up long into the small hours talking about Heidegger, Kant, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Kippenburger, Derrida, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kieffer to name but a few. – It’s been a 5-year journey and 4 of them we’ve taken together. It’s brought us a closeness that neither of us had experienced previously and a body of work that has been inspired, and grown out of our love for each other.

Which brings me neatly on to what happened this morning. After checking my emails I went to see what was happening on Facebook. One of my girlfriends, an artist in the UK had posted a short film about Marina Abramovic and Ulay.

Here is a some background information about the artists meeting taken from the original article found on Facebook and written by zengarage.com  “Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s. When they felt the relationship was ending, they walked the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.

At her 2010 MoMa show Marina shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened”

For me, this film is an affirmation of life, and the power of love.

29 thoughts on “What Is Love?

    1. It’s a strange feeling coming to the end of this particular journey. I’m so proud of him and I’ve learnt so much living through the process with him. My happiest times are when we make work together, and we’ve made projects in not just the UK, but Estonia, Spain and the USA. The doctorate may been nearing it’s end but our work continues to grow. Yes, we celebrated yesterday after work and will again once he hopefully has the bit of paper in his hand! Thanks Hayley 🙂

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  1. hmm, people say I’m cynical, but its good to know set-up dates can work. I’ve stopped going on them. I’ve concluded that my friends don’t know me at all based on the kind of men they try to set me up with.

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    1. I felt just the same – I won’t lie. Even though I’d known Jo since I was 10 I really didn’t think that she would have a clue about who was my type. Despite the fact that she attended my first wedding at 20, and witnessed the breakdown of marriage no.2 in my mid-forties. However, this canny lady did introduce me to the love of my love. I owe her a lot.
      I think after all these years it’s fair to say that she knows me very well!

      Pete and I got married on the same day that Jo and I first met at school 37 years previously! Hows that for coincidence?

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  2. Lovely Lots.
    Pleased you found it. I’d never seen art manage to encompass a life in quite this way before. Quite beautiful.
    So pleased for you too. Nice when it works hey. Xxx

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    1. It is quite beautiful. I have to confess to having a big weep whilst watching it – I found it very moving.

      Thank you for your sweet words Chalks, you are right, it’s nice when it works xxx

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  3. Ah, sweet love… yours, the Irishman’s and Marina/Ulay’s too.. may you bask in each others’ light and love for many more years. And a hearty congratulations to Dr Pete 😉

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  4. Lottie, that’s lovely. You and Dr Irishman are very lucky people … and plucky too. Life does throw you some bones sometimes :). I met my wife – we’ve been together for 34 years now – a year after I discovered I loved her: yes, very strange, but I am bit fey :). It’s a nice little yarn for sometime when I can find the sort of strength you’ve demonstrated in telling your story. Keep blogging!

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    1. Indeed it does Richard and it threw me a particularly juicy one with Old Irish!
      It’s wonderful to hear about your marriage, I hope you do write about it sometime. In this age when most marriages end in divorce it’s so good to hear stories such as yours. Good news is worth celebrating and rejoicing about! 😀

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    1. You and me both. I wept, Pete wept in fact everyone that’s watched it has wept. Certainly those of us who know what real love, deep love feels like. Now where are those tissues…..

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  5. That’s a love story alright; Glad you and Irish hit it off.

    I haven’t experienced multiple marriages after meeting H skiing in Austria (Lienz)a long time ago. She went back to Finland to finish studying while I went back to Australia. After a while I could not wait anymore and wrote, asked her to marry me. Luckily she said ‘kyla’ (yes) I went to live in Finland where we married in 1965. It was the move of our lives and we still rock, albeit less vehemently,more gently as years go by.

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    1. Gerard what a sweet story. I’m so glad you met H and that you found your love on a ski slope. The fact that you still rock after all these years is wonderful Good for you. Hip Hip! HOOOORAY!

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  6. Sometimes fate is kind. My wife and I were born 13 days apart, 6,000 miles from one another. It took nearly half a century for us to meet. I know what love is. Just don’t ask me to articulate it. You and The Irishmen are so lucky and blessed. And deservedly so. Too many people throw it away too easily. It’s only when it’s missing you realise what it’s worth. Fab post.

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    1. Thank you Andrew. It’s been a treat to receive so many positive comments on love and marriage and yours has touched me. I had to wait nearly half a century too so I understand exactly how it feels. Some people never find it – those of us that have, are truly blessed. If it takes half a century so be it! Better late than never eh?

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  7. Sometimes we have to find out what love isn’t, in order to recognize what love is, yes? I always think of it as a process…a journey.

    The film is amazing. I cried watching it the first time. And while I was reading your post and remembering the film I cried again…and then I showed it to S and cried again. Okay, that’s me done! I do feel refreshed now. Renewed in a sense.

    Oh, and of course you’re “qualified” to write about love. You are in love.

    Congrats to the Irishman (and you!) again on the completion of his doctoral writing. Lovely post, Lottie. xoxo

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    1. Thanks Sis – I forgot to warn you to get the tissues handy! It is a real weepy isn’t it?
      I’ll pass on your congratulations to the Irishman – he needs cheering, he’s having a tough time at the moment so your kind words will mean a lot xoxo

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  8. Wow. So beautiful! Words are not necessary when you have that depth of feeling. I found my soul mate, too (well, re-found him after 24 years) and sometimes I just have to be quiet in the love I feel for him. There just aren’t any words. I know you understand this. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. What a wonderful comment, Thank you Beduwen. Yes, you are right I do understand this, totally.

      I’m so glad you have found your soul-mate too. It’s been so good hearing all the positive comments on love here,

      I leave you with one of my very favourite quotes –

      “To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead”

      Bertrand Russell.

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  9. I am weeping still, compelled to watch again and again that oh so moving clip and wondering if I will ever find (or do i mean find again?) a Papageno to my Papagena (Erica Jong)….I’m so glad to have helped facilitate that discovery for you my darling friend xxx

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    1. I owe you so much dearest Josephine – Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish that I could find your Papageno for you; after all you have done for me it would be wonderful to be able to find your love for you – he hasn’t rocked up yet but may well soon!
      I was looking for a poem that I remember seeing on the tube a few years ago …I hoped to find it but I can’t. With your amazing memory you may well know it or remember it…it’s about love and finding it when you least expect it – it’s a fairly modern poem and I’m sure there’s a line about just farting, tripping up – something else? Anyway, I wanted to post it here for you. xoxoxoxoxo

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  10. Love = unconditionally….accepting the other for who (s)he is. Two people brave enough overcoming all that has been and is to come and enjoying every second together in the present. And being ready to let go, if time has come….
    Thanks Lottie for sharing. Congrats for both of you finishing writing for Irishman’s doctorate. Jempol!

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    1. I’m glad you liked the film Arjan and thanks for your wise thoughts and words on love.

      Speaking of which, I’d love to meet up with you guys soon. The rest of this month is busy – Pete is off to an artists residency in Germany on Saturday and I’m off to the island of 1,000 temples for a couple of weeks but you are welcome to come and stay or we can hook up back in Jakarta later in April if you are around 😀

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  11. Finally getting around to reading some of your posts that I have missed. A lovingly written story of love and of what is not. Marvelous in every way. I wish that everyone could have the good fortune to find true love and a soul mate. You and Pete are blessed to have found each other. I call it jelling where two people meld together to become one solid foundation. It is like a slab of concrete that only a sledge hammer can break. That is the best analogy that I use for real and undying love. May you and Pete both live long and passionate lives in all of your endeavors together.

    ~Yvonne~

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    1. I am very moved and touched by your comment Yvonne, thank you. Especially since I know what you have gone through- your words mean a lot. You are a very special lady xoxo

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      1. Thank you Lottie. You are a special lady as well and mean a great deal to me. Even though we are really strangers who will never meet I think that we have a meeting of “minds.”

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