What...if not love?
It is not within me to make declarations about what love should be, what it needs to look like--a grand, sweeping guideline. But it's been on my mind to share some things about what I've learned about love, for me. One thing I've never wanted to do in life is to simply go and go and go and go and get to the end and think, 'hmm, okay, done now.' I want to grow along the way. I want to have thoughts like, 'well that sucked...never gonna do things like that again' or 'yes! THIS I could use more of in my life.'
My take on this could always change, of course. Hopefully I will learn much more along the way, too. But these are some thoughts on the subject of (romantic) love, for the here and now:
Love is wanting to hear another person's stories. It's archiving them and referencing them later. From Kevin I've learned that it's also adopting your loved one's family's nicknames for her and calling her by them. It's relishing the childhood version of your loved one, wanting to know all about it. It's never passing up a chance to meet somebody who knew your honey back in the day, just so you can ask what he or she was like back then.
Love is conspiring together.
Somebody said "love means never having to say you're sorry." What a load of horseshit! Love strives to make things right, to atone, to get good with. Sometimes, "I'm sorry" is definitely in order. Love is also taking responsibility for one's part in the messed-up things and owning one's own feelings.
From the Bible (there's some really good stuff in there): Love is, indeed, patient and kind. Love can wait all damned day. It can wait many days. It says kind words and means them. It pains at having caused its object pain. It is careful to be gentle, when gentleness is what will avoid causing unnecessary pain.
Love does not find every quirk endearing, but love absolutely gathers all the quirks in closely and says, "ok guys, it won't always be easy or pretty, but we're gonna learn to live together."
From my in-laws of sorts (including Catfish Moore, who did the above illustration--thank you, Catfish!), I have learned that love is worth getting right, even if it comes a little later in life...that true love at any age can make you giggly and sparkly-eyed.
In love, the time spent in joy far exceeds that spent in pain, sadness, tears, confusion, or doubt (about one's self or the relationship). There is always the potential for pain and sadness when a person opens her heart, but love does not leave room for these to be the prevailing emotions for long.
Love continues to find its object fascinating. Love is endless curiosity.
Some have said that you treat your loved ones the worst, because you can. I disagree. I think that maybe you let your loved ones see the worst of you at times because you trust them. But you treat them better than anybody in the world, because they deserve it and because that's how you show that love is not once-granted and then taken for granted. Love esteems and holds in high regard, even when the going is rough.
From my parents, among so many other things about love, I've learned that it laughs often, with and at. It knows that teasing is a way to show your loved one that you see him, goofy parts and all, and that you love him through them all.
Love tells the truth--respectfully, tactfully, lovingly.
Love wants to build upon itself; it wants to create; it longs to combine forces and make something that extends beyond itself (this need not necessarily be children).
Love does not want to keep its objects' virtues to itself, hidden from the world. Love is not threatened by outsiders. Love wants others to see and know and appreciate. Love says: that's my man (look how juicy he is!); I'm so proud to be by his side.
In contemplating this topic, I put the question out to some friends, because it's always interesting for me to know how other people process the thing I'm currently chewing on. Here are some of their responses:
I've learned that a healthy sex life that doesn't involve a relationship and surrounding yourself with friends and family who care/love you is way better than ever settling for an untrue love. ~Nessa
The love between a parent and child (no matter their ages) is unlike anything easily explained. Inspiring, transcending and truly holy. And before I became a parent myself, I had no idea. ~Colleen
Love is a DIY project. I think I've learned that you create it yourself. I mean, it's all a state of mind (and heart), and since it's YOUR mind and heart, YOU create, or you distance yourself from love. I think love also has a million facets, and none of them ever ever ever matches the movies. EVER. So if anyone thinks their life IN LOVE will somehow meet their expectations based on Hollywood's nonsense, that isn't going to happen. Just my first take on it. ~Chris
Love is a verb. It is an action. You commit to it and have to work at it. The deepest love goes far beyond butterflies in your stomach or any FEELING at all. It is who you choose to be and what you choose to give. It is the greatest gift I've ever received and the hardest, most rewarding one I've ever given. ~Cait
Love is what you make it. ~Jed
Self love is the hardest but worth it! ~Christina
That after 10 years of marriage, I still don't know much about love. I do know it is work, and good marriages, with both people growing and evolving, are going to have it's dips and peeks. It is all exciting, it's all an adventure, and I know I've found love, because there is no other person I would want to be on that ride with. ~Nicole
Love = Respect + Trust + Adoration, in that order. Without the first 2 - there's no point to the last. ~Joseph
Love is unconditional ~Aunt Edie
Love is being able to edit as you go (I'm changing, stuff's changing). Love is being able to crumble, barf, poop my pants. My loving friend wouldn't necessarily clean it up, but she will sit with me with my poopy pants. ~KimAnd there it is! Love is creating and sexing and respecting and poopy pants. All those things and so many more things, to so many people.
Whatever love is to you, if you're reading this--whatever you long for and whatever love you wish to find, I wish it for you as well. I hope you find love that inspires you and draws you in. I hope you find love that appreciates you and hugs you warm and close.
And I hope you have the presence of mind of recognize it when it's arrived. I hope that for ALL of us, that we may celebrate it, spread it around, and always show our gratitude.
Happy belated Valentine's Day, y'all.