I have been watching a discussion about love. One party whipped out Webster’s to begin the discussion, yet chose fourth definition for the purposes of discussion. We have done this sort of thing before. Time to go off the ranch.
The comments from the discussion spanned the gamut from the lovelorn to the devoted parents to the clairvoyant who perceived the question as aimed directly at them. During the intermission, the question remained: What is love?
Having answered this question on more than one occasion… The answer is not something you are going to understand by reading the definition. Clyde even gave a dissertation on what love is not. Each love is different in its intensity, maturity and reciprocity; moreover, each of us receives love in a different way.
All of us have heard of the love languages: quality time, touch, words of affirmation, gifts and acts of service. Since we are receptive to varying degrees to each of the love languages, pigeonholing is not on the menu.
With all of the nuances and variants, love may be best described as a color, specifically grey. It is somewhere between the extremes of everything and nothing with qualities from both. Yes, both.
Love is fulfilling on levels we fail to perceive as lacking until they are filled to brimming. Sometimes, we have no idea we need to be loved until a person presents with the requisite emotion and devotion to fit into a crack in our souls we could not see in a mirror.
It is an aggregate of hundreds of little things. The grains of sand which make the glass are forged with the heat of passion. No, not all passion is sexual. Ahem.
Occasionally, some of those grains would have otherwise lodged in our knickers and truly been a pain. When settled between so many others, they are smooth to the touch and soothing. If we list them, their sparkling qualities shine through.
- Gentle reminders, for our own good
- Politeness and gratitude
- Assurances with follow-through
- Trinkets and baubles
Would you like a personal reminder to take your medicine, delivered with a kiss? Would a thank you note in your gym bag make your day? Are you more secure when someone tells you they will do something, and they do it without a million reminders (nagging)? Do you enjoy flowers, a card or a meal on any given Tuesday, which falls on a date without strings attached? How would you like having someone to assist you without trying to lord over the project or demean your process, even if it is just the dinner dishes?
One thing love provides is space. Most of us have heard of (or been a participant in) the decrying of a need for space as a brush off. This is not the same space.
When someone loves us, they can sit in the same room for hours without a word. They can watch us attempt feats they would never without pooh-poohing our preparations, all the while suffering from anxiety and fear right up to the moment we succeed. They can be silent as we shift our weight from one foot to the other waiting to hear, “I told you so,” and after we gush apologies, remorse or self-applied labels, still never say it.
When we love someone, we can wrap our arms around them and soak up the hurt without a word. We can be on the other end of the telephone while they listen patiently as we talk our way through and out of the problem we called to have them solve.
Let’s get back to the pesky definitions in the aforementioned discussion. Webster was clear the definitions were different or grouped together by similarity. Unlike Greek and Latin, English is a poor language with only one word for love.
In reality, love takes its grains of silica from all of the definitions. The ratio of affection, devotion and benevolence is completely up to us. How much we temper it with admiration, enthusiasm and attraction changes how we view love and judge its fitness.
Using different amounts of different materials changes the color, makes it crystal clear or clouds it into complete opacity. Changing how fast the glass is heated changes its stability. Mixing and matching or winging the measurement of ingredients causes minor imperfections. Some have streaks. Others have bubbles.
The glass is different for each blower. We each breathe life into love: some in shallow breaths, some deeply, some even hyperventilate. The consistency we use to breathe into the glass creates beautiful fragile bulbs or dense, lumpy globes.
While the ingredients to love are everywhere, it takes work to create a beautiful piece you wish to protect from harm, polish to a perfect shine and stroke its surface. No matter what color you choose, take the time to make love into a work of art you treasure.
If everything is white and nothing is black, how dark is your grey? How do you breathe into your glass? Why are we fierce to protect love?
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