This is one of the exercises our group did together. We wrote on the theme of love for seven minutes. Then, we mixed the pieces up, and each person read another’s to the group. We’ve now typed them up, stitched them together and present them to you here.
Although love is sought after by so many, it seems to elude so many more. It is both manifest and hidden. It exists both as potential and as the realized. It brings both joy and pain; each the steed of the other and like a fantastical shape-shifter transforms from the rider to the one ridden. In a world so blind with superstition, it is perhaps our most idealized of emotions. For the foolish it holds the promise of fulfillment, for the damned it is salvation, for the prideful it is reward. But what is it to the pure? It becomes both the force that purifies and the result of the effort. It is the means and the end. Love, when true, becomes infinite, generous and free.
I could tell you that love is of four kinds, but I’m pretty sure you’re already aware so I won’t go into it. I could quote a song and in that case I’d quote the Beatles and say that “All you need is love,” but I don’t believe this. I could also spend hours telling you about the different ways that love is perceived starting with romantic and unrequited and ending with platonic and motherly. But there aren’t types of love to pick and choose from or to fall in and out of: love is a whole. The words I used aren’t kinds of love; they’re just plain adjectives, superficial words that have been knitted to other confused and broken words. Love can’t be broken, can it? It is what it is, but it has been misunderstood. Perhaps it’s the foundation of marriage and family life, the only important spiritual force in the world, but this isn’t true either. Husbands and wives who still love each other can’t live together, and love not modified by humility and detachment becomes selfish. I guess I can’t tell you what it is, but I did try.
The words “I love you” are used by many people to mean many things. Between good friends in casual conversation, I love you says “I enjoy your company and am glad to be talking to you.” In response to help or advice, I love you takes the form of an especially grateful “thanks” and to someone in love, I love you may seem like the most potent phrase in our language; something that can impact one’s entire life. What do the uses and abuses of I love you reveal about our understanding of love?
Any action can be attributed to love: walking down a snowy street with your head down; punching someone; giving up your food or time and feeling that joy. Hundreds of these instances are popping every day. So many plates are sitting beside love. Imagine all the food eaten dumped in one pile; it’s no longer appealing to look at. How can these actions be separated or distilled to understand love? It doesn’t exist on its own, but is permanently attached to these things.
Love is the deep connection of both heart and mind; the bond that ties the two together. Love forces honesty and merges rational thought processes and irrational feelings.
Kindle the fire of love and burn away all things. Perhaps even the truest love begins only as a spark, as something so small and fragile that any contrary wind would quench it. We have to nurture this spark, let it catch and grow. I cross paths with a person, we become friends, a spark of love ignites and then we go our separate ways behind us it slowly fades away. Months later I can’t say how it happened, or why: I never meant to let it fade. Looking back, I never really tried to fan that flame. But when I kindle that fire, it burns away veils I never knew were there and brings me to a place I could never have imagined.