Love: Defined

The word love… it represents everything. It is what we long and dream of; it is the subject of epic novels, great songs and touching movies; it is the one thing we will sacrifice anything for; it can make the colors of the world brighter and more vibrant and life exciting, thrilling and fulfilling; it is what we all seek and something that some never truly find. Love gives us a reason to live. And for some it can destroy everything. Sometimes the word is used casually and does not hold much meaning but that is not the love we need. We need true love…

But what is love? Merriam-Webster defines love as:

1. a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person
2. an attraction that includes sexual desire
3. the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship

But really when you evaluate emotions you realize that they fluctuate like the ebb and flow of the ocean tides. And sometimes they confuse us by masking themselves as a different emotion entirely. For example, we might say we are feeling angry when really the true emotion of hurt or sadness is hiding beneath the mask. I have never known love to deceive me or to come-and-go. Once I have loved someone I always love them. Yes, my love for them may change over time but it never goes away.

It is something we all feel, but no one can really put into words because it is stronger than any words can convey. First off, there are many kinds of love. I mentioned that the word might be used casually, for instance, we might love chocolate donuts but that certainly is not the same emotion we feel for our child. A chocolate donut is not equivalent to your child. If you had to choose your child or one chocolate donut what would you choose to keep? And then there is puppy love. The love of two children for one another, they are inseparable, they might even hold hands… it is sweet and innocent. And later still comes first love… so thrilling in the beginning, overwhelming emotions beyond those we’d ever felt for anyone or anything before. A love that is often lost as we continue to grow up and mature and choose different life paths. And yet a love that we look back fondly on.

Love comes in so many forms and on so many levels and we can love many at the same time but we never love two people in the same way. The love between a husband and a wife, the love of a parent and a child… they are not the same but they are rife with similar complexities. Love is the greatest and most tragic of emotions. It’s intensity so great that sometimes people think they cannot go on living without it. Love can even cost you your life, and when it is lost it is as intense and life changing as losing a person from death. It must be mourned and grieved over.

Love changes a person. Every love changes a person. Life will never be defined in the same way again. You cannot thrive without it, though you can live on. You can learn to keep going after it is lost. You can try to find it again. It’s not easy and for each of us it takes a different period of time. And that is okay because there is nothing comparable on earth to what we call “love.” And so I do not believe it is simply an emotion. It is so much more than that as it can drive our behavior and control our life if we are not careful.

But finally I have found my definition of love. It is as though these writers took a microscope to my heart and my brain’s emotional center, studying my thoughts, moods and actions for a lifetime and so here is my experience of love as expressed best, by Mr. Ted Mosby:

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