“Modern Love” is easily one of the most popular New York Times, columns, bringing personal reflections on love, relationships and intimacy to readers every Sunday since 2004. Since a podcast version of the column began earlier this year, it has shot to the top of the iTunes rankings, as listeners can’t get enough of their favorite actors and notable personalities – Connie Britton, Jason Alexander, Judd Apatow, to name a few – reading their favorite "Modern Love" columns.
Last week it was Colin Farrell’s turn in the recording booth. The Dublin-born actor, currently starring in the film “The Lobster,” a modern love story unto itself, selected a column from November 2011 titled “Would My Heart Outrun its Pursuer?”
The column was written by Gary Presley, a Missouri man who has been wheelchair-bound since contacting polio as a child. He shares the story of how he had forced himself to believe that love or romance could never be a part of his life but eventually permitted himself to re-think those beliefs after he became close to Belinda, one of the attendants who visited him at home.
“I was past 40, my anger and frustration over being paralyzed mostly burned away. But it never occurred to me that the friendship, the connection, between Belinda and me might also be the bridge between caution and passion, between isolation and connection,” he writes.
“’I really don’t see the chair,’ Belinda said a few months after we met. ‘I see you.’”
Later in the piece, he cuts to the core:
“I was the keeper of an obscene little secret I had known perhaps since I had been stuck in the iron lung, and surely from some vague moment later, the point where I realized I would never walk again. It is a thing that will sit rancid in my gut until the day I die, a thing that until then had eaten away at any illusion that love and marriage for me would be like it was in books or movies. And it was this: I would be physically dependent upon those who might love me. I am a chore, an obligation, and I will ever be so. I could not rationalize how a woman might love me and not soon come to hate the millstone I believed myself to be."
Farrell personally selected Presley’s column to read for the podcast, and in a brief interview towards the end, he explains why.
“One of the most horrendous things about a physical disability is that it cuts into the hope of the person who is experiencing the affliction. And so the ability to love or be loved is something that all of a sudden is birthed into this cloud of suspicion and this cloud of doubt, and from the outside looking in that seems to me one of the most heartbreaking aspects of this story, but this story doesn’t go there. There is no giving in to the doubt, there is only giving in to the potential of loving and being loved.”
The podcast also includes interviews with Presley and Belinda (they have been married now for 25 years and have a daughter together), as well as Dan Jones, the editor of "Modern Love."