On Love

Everyone wants to know what is meant by the word love. Curiosity is a part of human nature. It is an insatiable urge buried deep within the very marrow of our bones. Nobody is born knowing how to love. Most people discover their own definition of love by first learning what it is not. Curiosity about love usually comes from a place of lack and is taken for granted the most where it exists in abundance.

The risk involved with knowing what is love and what it is to love is to understand when what you are receiving is not love. To love is a choice and not an easy one to make. Too much attention is given on how to be loved. It is attached as a caveat after “how to love” each time. Self-interest doesn’t play a role in love. Love is selfless; love is other-oriented. Thought of as a gift, love is an act of kindness, intentional, not random.

Contemporary conversations about love use the word to mean “don’t judge.” Self-love is becoming more about embracing flaws and shortcomings, instead of encouraging growth. Coupled with self-care, ideas about love keep the emphasis on the self with dreaded phrases like “me” time cropping up.

The subject of love cannot be continued without first understanding what is meant when that word is used. Love has become entangled in so many other contradictory notions, it now lives on the fringes of collective consciousness in esoteric obscurity, in danger of being lost forever if not revived, and in some cases, revised.

The word love has been displaced by seemingly near synonyms that fail to capture the essence and nature of love: happiness, contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction. Love is treated as a commodity, a means to an end. Love, like medicine, is a practice, as much religion as it is philosophy, and in rare cases, an absolute miracle.

The truth is that love is a delicate subject. The word itself has lost its vigor and potency the way it is used so casually and so carelessly. When love is brought up, it’s attached to relationships, marriage, sex, or politics. For some reason, love always comes with strings attached.

Examining love in isolation, detached from context, and cutting those strings, which have so far held together a working definition of love, is what makes the subject so incredibly complicated, yet still worthy of contemplation. Maybe even more so.

Love, if mentioned at all, is talked about in whispers and conveyed through hushed tones reserved for church corridors. It is borderline taboo, another forbidding aspect which makes the subject endlessly fascinating. It is no wonder, then, that love is found in proximity beside destructiveness. The desire to love and the desire to destroy are equally strong in human nature. Taboos imply silence, and if not broken, compliance. To bring up the subject of love is to destroy the barriers of silence surrounding it, to transgress against the taboo, while others still remain inhibited by how to talk about love.

Love is growth, it never destroys. Hatred is fueled by anger; love is fueled by desire: a desire to love without expectation of receiving anything back. Love, like religion, is best when not forced on anyone. The message of religion should never be conversion. Love exists as an intangible structure, an invisible framework for living. Love is also life. It is the opposite of death and decay.

This is a departure from the idea that humanity’s deepest desire is to love and be loved in return. There is never a guarantee you’ll be loved, or even liked, no matter what you do, even if you conform in the strictest sense of the word. Love as a mindset promises renewed satisfaction, not a permanent state. It must be reached over and over again.

Love is not only about the capacity, the will and desire to love, but also the ability to express that love as a need, meaning more than to gain a sense of belonging, and then to do whatever it takes to continue satisfying that need. Love this deep touches closely with fanaticism and cultivating a life of love is tantamount to obsession, addiction. It is love detached from feeling, as a mindset and a way of life singularly-focused on a continuously renewing process, an end in and of itself.

It is love for love’s sake.

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