Love. It’s a word that means so many things to so many people. Love is hard to define. It would take every piece of paper ever made to write all the different things that love means to all of the different people that exist on our planet.
Love is to feel warmth, kindness, compassion, empathy and trust for another. Love is all encompassing, smoothing over sins and discretions. Love is a feeling that exists within all creatures. Love is all around.
Perhaps the strongest love that exists is the love a mother feels for her child. It is said that no one will love you like your mother and each year that I live, I find this to be true. This love, between mother and child, is unbreakable no matter how hard the child tries to test the bond. No matter how many rules they smash, or how deviant they live, or how they may harm another, the love their mother feels towards them is so deep and true, it is almost indescribable.
So to for the child; no matter how many times their mother has hurt them, their heart always opens at the site of her. A mother can abuse her child, physically, mentally, spiritually and the child will still love her like no other. This love is perhaps the most indestructible thing that survives in our existence.
Love can be effortless and chosen like the love between friends. I find this to be a sacred love that feels like no other. This love is flexible because everyone knows that friends come and go. Humans are more willing to hold this love as fluid, prepared from the beginning that one day it may end. The love one feels for a friend however, does allows for a deep connection. It also opens the door for secrets to be revealed and sharing to occur. Of course it wouldn’t be a proper friendship if it weren’t also filled with fun and joy. The simplicity of friendship brings with it a splendid lightheartedness that does not often exists in the other forms of love.
Songs have been written about love. “All you need is love” according to John Lennon or perhaps “love has caused my heart to break and it will never heal” sings the old country crooner. Books have been written about love: poetry and novels; short stories and spiritual texts. Love is all around. Plays have been written about it; Romeo and Juliet. Operas like Madame Butterfly that make the heart cry and leave one asking, “…is that really love?”
There is romantic love. According to The New Oxford American Dictionary, one definition of romance is; a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love. This same dictionary gives the following definition for love; an intense feeling of deep affection. Reading these definitions, who wouldn’t want romantic love? Who wouldn’t want to love someone with so much depth, excitement, intensity and mystery that they would be willing to die to stay together for eternity? With the divorce rate being what it is, perhaps too many have gotten married because of the myth that shrouds this kind of love. There is a whole day devoted to this idea of romantic love; Valentines Day. Cards are out in force at the local drugstore ready to jump off the shelves and find themselves in the hands of loved recipients. Boxes of chocolate and stuffed animals lined up like soldiers for love in these same drugstores, all given in the name and promise of romantic love.
There is love wrapped in intimacy like you might find in a marriage or partnership. One in which loyalty and devotion to each other has been committed and glimpses of all the other loves are interwoven throughout the partnership like a fine thread holding a delicate garment together. This love can be broken in a heartbeat. One partner makes a decision that can change the relationship forever. Perhaps their loyalty and devotion wavered for a moment in time, forcing the other partner to decide how and if they want to continue to love. Intimate love can also last a lifetime, becoming the elderly couple, walking hand in hand along the seashore together, parting only at death, or perhaps like Romeo and Juliet, together for eternity.
There is tough love: putting up boundaries and rules with someone who has continually taken advantage of one’s love. Finally one day, they’ve had enough and say “stop” to the love abuser. The locks are changed; keys get taken away; money no longer given. This is tough and it is love. The love giver disappearing, their actions saying, “Enough, there is no more love”.
Love does not always come with such big actions. It can be as small as opening the door for another or smiling at a stranger. Love can be dropping spare change into the red Salvation Army buckets at Christmas or buying a homeless person lunch. It is the kind word said to the person having a bad day.
Love is limitless. It is big and small. It is all around everyone and everything. It is within us all and what makes life worth living. Love is life and life is love and love…is all around.