The following is an extract from novelist Anna Raverat’s first book Signs of Life, which touched on themes of love, fear, betrayal and loss I so often explore in my blog.
I decided there are only two emotions, love and fear, and that all others are shades of these… Courage, enthusiasm, kindness are all forms of love. Elegance, respect, forgiveness, too. Anything that tightens the heart – hatred, envy, anger, judgement, greed – comes from fear, the fear of losing. (Stephen King says he thinks fear is at the root of most bad writing, I think he’s right and I think fear is at the root of most bad living too.) What are we afraid of losing? The things that make us feel safe and solid, like property, work, money, power, control, but most of all – love.
One day, working on my Love and Fear lists, happily dividing all of human experience into two neat columns. I had a brainwave. Fear isn’t the opposite of love; fear is what arises when love isn’t there, so maybe, I reasoned, there is only one emotion. There is only love, and the absence of love.
I was convinced that the ‘Love and Fear’ spectrum was my own idea and then, a while later, I saw the exact same thing in a film. I haven’t come across my third list anywhere else, though I know now that H.G. Wells did write something similar, obviously before I wrote List 3.
List 3 – Things there are not
There are no deals
There is no protection.
There is no return.
Nothing can be singled out.
There are no instructions and no rules.
There is no getting away with it.
There is no getting away from it.
There is no getting around it, under it or over it.
There are only choices to make.
Or choices to fail to make.
Signs of Life