Do you ever listen to a song like Dido’s White Flag and feel as though you want to sit down in a chair and sob out an over indulgence of emotion for the time you carried a torch for someone and felt like the pain of lost love would never, ever end?
When we get older and more jaded about the idea of going down with the ship of unrequited love, we forget what this experience was like. As a writer who had the nerve to create a character that loves and loses and hangs on, I had to dig down deep and remember that emotion. A song like White Flag can really aid in the process.
I’ll let you be the judge. Listen to the song and see if it doesn’t plunge you into at least a bit of nostalgia for the days of believing that hanging on forever could make a difference. I’ve given you a link to a You Tube video with lyrics. Give it a listen – I’ll be here when you get back.
Did you feel a bit weepy?
Popular culture often projects an image of love that is rarely what any of us have lived, but this image takes hold of our imagination for a reason. There is something about the idea of holding on to love no matter how hopeless the cause, of never putting up that white flag of surrender that appeals to us.
It’s really quite simple – we want to believe there is a man or woman out there who would go the distance for us. Never mind that we probably know ourselves to be incapable of returning the favour – it doesn’t change the want.
For example, a man like Professor Snape, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books – he loved Lily Potter right up to the bitter end. He died to protect her son – the son she had with his most hated rival. I ask you – is his behaviour not the personification of true love?
Or maybe a woman like Angelique, the French heroine of Sergeanne Golan’s books. She rushed through at least a dozen thick historical romance novels, sleeping with and marrying other men, though she never stopped pining for and being in love with Joffrey de Pyrec – her first and only love. And true to the romantic ideal, he never stopped looking for her. This is the stuff great literary romances are made of.
Though James Bond is portrayed as the master of love affairs in a host of Hollywood movies, in Ian Fleming’s novels, Bond never got over the woman he lost.
Of course we probably don’t know anyone like Professor Snape, or Angelique, or even James Bond, for that matter. The men and women we know are fickle and who could blame them. No one wants to be alone and as you get older the concept of true love becomes somewhat bargained down. What is true might end up being what is comfortable and familiar, or convenient, or self-serving, or a host of other things. Don’t get me wrong – that certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t love, because in the end, love is a bargain of sorts. Yet part of us will always cling to the ideal – why else do we flop in a chair and feel our stomachs roll over when we listen to a song like White Flag?