Home > prose, Random Musings > Love and Other Fragile Things

Love and Other Fragile Things


I’ve been thinking about fragile things, lately. People, mostly. How often do we break in ways the world cannot possibly see? I think the answer is: too often.

I remember a college professor explaining the difference between connotative and denotative meaning. He used an example from his personal life, which he often did. The woods were his example. He asked for denotative meanings for it and wrote them on the board. Then he offered us a connotative meaning, which was that a friend hung himself from a tree growing up. Every time he sees a small clump of trees, he remembers that. It was, he noted, a visceral emotion. It’s not a forest to him. It’s never just a tree. It’s his dead friend.

That stuck with me. I don’t know if the story’s true. I hope that it wasn’t some elaborate lie to make us remember the difference between the meanings. Even if it’s a lie, it’s a powerful one.

But the fragile things – there are so many. Dreams, moments, people, hearts, prayers, forgiveness, hope. All strong in some ways, but so easily squashed, sometimes. A smile can shatter quicker than a heartbeat, because of a misplaced word or a purposeful one. Hope can be dashed on the rocks of reality, completely and without mercy.

Love, it should be noted, is the thing that leaves us most vulnerable. It is the ultimate risk, to offer your heart in the proverbial palm of your hand. And we do it because the world is wretched place otherwise, and yes, the potential benefits outweigh the inevitable risk. Even when that heart is accepted, with all its graceless and thundering flaws, life is not a fairytale. Because loving another person is never easy, but it is (if you ask me) always worth it.

There is, I know, always something dangerous about love. It is composed of distilled chaos and ruin, as if a single word or whisper can level everything in sight. And it can. Sometimes, it does. But even the end of love can look like something out of a storybook, something that does not end with a trite ‘happily ever after,’ but instead ‘this happened. This was.’ And that’s all anyone ever wants: incontrovertible proof that love is possible. It’s the only thing that gets us out of bed, sometimes. Forgetting the rent, the cat needing to be fed, or the deliveryman who seems to always ring the bell when you’re in the shower. Er, maybe I’m editorializing again…

Certain songs, certain places, certain smells – they’re reminders of things past. Reminders of people and feelings. They are proof that something happened, but there are reminder that things break, too. Some things do not last, except (of course) true love. Or twu wuv, if you prefer.

Love is the strongest fragile thing. It can wreck you or save you, depending on a single glance. If it could be worshiped, people would do it. Forgetting, of course, that bastard Hallmark, and its monopoly on all things sentimental. Love isn’t captured in a card, or even in a poem. Those things are echoes and shadows of the real thing. A ghost of an imitation.

And some of us are more haunted than most.

“She seems so cool, so focused, so quiet, yet her eyes remain fixed upon the horizon. You think you know all there is to know about her immediately upon meeting her, but everything you think you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood.


She only looked away for a moment, and the mask slipped, and you fell. All your tomorrows start here.”
Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

 “There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.”
Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

“(i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands” ~e.e. cummings, somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

Categories: prose, Random Musings
  1. Blake
    November 3, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Brilliant post as always. Love, in every form, is fragile. Your statement “Hope can be dashed on the rocks of reality, completely and without mercy.” resonates with me. I’m going to file that away and, if you don’t mind, may use it (with credit to you, of course 🙂 ) in my next post. I can let you proof it first, to make sure you are okay with the context in which I use it.

    The Gaiman quotes are powerful.

    Happy Thursday. 🙂

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: