When Virgil wrote, in his tenth Eclogue, that love conquers all – omnia vincit amor – he was not making a statement about the power of love to overcome all obstacles. He was not suggesting that love can or should prevail over anyone or anything that might stand in its way; he was not asserting that love is subject only to its own rules; he was not saying, with the poet Bono, that love is a higher law. He was not saying that love conquers everything. He was saying that love conquers everyone. Love conquers us all – it defeats all of us, it claims dominion over all of us, it overpowers every single one of us – and so we really should just consider surrendering. Omni vincit amor et nos cedamus amori, bitches.
We all know this to be true, even as we happily misquote Ovid when we’re cheering each other through difficult relationships (if you really love each other, it will work out! LOVE CONQUERS ALL!) or reassuring each other about how love makes everything worthwhile (you’ll totally forget the pain of childbirth once you’re holding that squawling creature to your breast! LOVE CONQUERS ALL!), because we all know that even if love does conquer a whole great bunch of intangible things, including but not limited to fear of heartbreak and aversion to pushing a live being out of your nether parts, the reason why Cupid is usually depicted as a weapon-bearing toddler is because its raison d’etre is to take you down smiling. It points its bow and arrow at you and demands that you submit and play. And you cannot resist, because it has that bow and arrow and it’s sharp, and also, sweet lord, those chubby little legs! Those cheeks! You surrender happily and you ignore the arrow sticking out of your breastbone because there is nothing sweeter than Love and even when it shits its pants and screams for more cookies and that arrow gets wrenched from side to side you still submit willingly.
Because even when love is messy and chaotic and complicated (and isn’t love only ever this, even in its gentlest incarnations?) it still embodies the most exquisite sweetness and most irresistible beauty and because of this, really, there isn’t any better representation of this than the creatures who at once torment us and inspire our fiercest devotion, the small beings to whom we surrender in love, to whom we gladly surrender in love: our children, our hearts. Nos cedamus amori.
All of which is just to say this: we should endeavor to love each other – our spouses and friends and family and lovers and neighbors – the way that we love our children, in the spirit of patience and play and sufferance and joy. To submit to love, as wholly as we can, stinging arrows and shitty pants and all.