Love Isn't Rational and Neither Are You

oh damn the concept of limitless and unconditional love doesn't satisfy your logical brain, wow that's crazy

Do we really have to do this? Again?

The Giving Tree is not a self-help book. It’s not intended to flatter the myopic literalism of the kind of people who talk about “self-actualization.” The Giving Tree is about unconditional love. Oh, you think the book isn’t rationally defensible? Guess what: love is not rationally defensible, and unconditional love certainly isn’t. And yet both are still blessed and treasured conditions, precisely because we are not rational creatures. We are beings whose lives are dictated by emotions we neither control nor understand. Pretending otherwise isn’t self-help, it’s self-delusion.

(Viral meme: “Never fall in love with a man who XYZ” What? You don’t choose who you fall in love with. The heart wants what it wants. It’s out of your hands.)

More specifically, The Giving Tree is about parenting, about a parent’s love. Nothing could be less rational than a parent’s love. You give and give and ask for nothing in return. It’s completely unjustifiable in logical terms and it’s maybe the most beautiful part of being human. If your child comes looking to you for love without strings attached and you say “whoa whoa, let’s set some boundaries!,” I’m calling DCF. We are literally animals. You are driven by evolutionary emotional forces you will never understand. Your human relationships will never conform to the kind of rules you’re trying to set. Never. You can either accept the incredible beauty of the parts of yourself that are defiantly irrational, or you can lie to yourself about who and what you are. But let me enjoy this gorgeous and true book without the lecture please. I don’t need overeducated strangers to tell me how to understand that which cannot be understood, that which is not meant to be understood.

And “createthelove,” “teedoodler,” Adam Grant, and Allison Sweet Grant are free to live in fear of the parts of themselves that they cannot accept that they cannot control.