What in the World is Love?

10:05:15sunset
Earth Heart
© Suzanne Lorenz 2015

Love. It must be the most written about, explored and expressed word in the human languages. It seems everyone and his or her sister or brother has something to say about love and some directives of what to do with it. Is it a noun? A verb? Physical, emotional or spiritual? Here are some examples of thoughts about love from some noteworthy people:

“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.”
Oscar Wilde

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
Mother Teresa

“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”
Jim Morrison

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.
Buddha

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Jesus Christ

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”
Rumi

None of these cultural icons have said exactly what love is. Clearly it’s important. Why else were we told throughout the ages, in all languages, over and over what to do with it? Love as verb. Love ourselves, love others, love the earth, love the stars. Don’t even get me started on love as a noun. Here’s 5 ways love languages can be expressed as a verb from Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages.        1. Acts of Service 2. Words of Affirmation 3. Gifts  4. Quality Time 5. Physical touch

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Between the Shadow and the Soul
©Suzanne Lorenz 2015
“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
Pablo Neruda

As far as I can tell, the description of love is experienced by myself and others in multiple ways; physiological, emotional, spiritual, and since we’re humans, we want to express that experience.

Physiologically there is oxytocin, a chemical hormone which has an affect on bonding, social recognition, anxiety and orgasm. (en.m.wikepedia.org) It helps to create a bond between the baby, the parents and anyone who is close to the child and connected. Pheromones are a chemical that is released when we’re sexually attracted to someone, which increases the physical bond between couples.

Emotional love is the one we may feel the most familiar with. It’s the warm feeling in our chest, yes, near our hearts that lets us know we feel close and connected to someone or that we want to be close and connected. I feel that love of emotion with those I know and trust. I also feel it with my experiences in art or music, the languages of emotion. I feel that emotion in nature, when I give service or receive recognition. It has me feeling safe, well balanced, content and yes, connected.

Spiritual love seems harder to define. How we feel, describe, or express love may depend on our spiritual principles, beliefs or dogma. For some, the love of Jesus and Mary is as real and rich as the love of a child. For me, it manifests in the connection I feel with a universal energy that is real and yet a mystery.

“Love is the way messengers from the mystery tell us things.”
Rumi

When I asked my wise and wonderful husband, Sam Beasley, whom I love in so many ways, what love is he said this:

“Everyone knows what romantic love is. It starts with a chemical connection, an attraction. It happens all the time. From that point what matters is the + in love +. What is it combined with? If love is combined with honesty, integrity, and respect then, in addition to that chemical attraction, friendship has a chance of developing.

If love is combined with deception, something that could be wonderful becomes painful and shatters trust. If love is combined with commitment to honor the humanness in each other, people can have a love that last forever. Maybe “What is love?” isn’t the best question.  Maybe ‘What is your love combined with?’ brings a more revealing answer.”

I would love it if you would let me know what you think love is. I often write these and wonder what the response is. Please leave a comment or better yet, subscribe to my blog posts. Thanks for reading and looking.
Suzanne

8 thoughts on “What in the World is Love?”

  1. Thank you so much Suzanne for your generous and thought provoking post. Love? I guess if I had to define it, it would be similar to the visual and sound of waves. Sometimes it feels like white caps, or occasionally big and furious waves crashing against a bulkhead (or is that lust? Hmmm…). But usually, love to me is akin to the sound and feel of gentle waves lapping at the shore. That’s really what love is to me. It’s a comfort and gives rhythm to my life.

  2. Oh my lord Suzanne, could you ask a more difficult question than this? The questions are getting more difficult to answer by the post. Your next theme has got to be what is the universe and why are we here? Because I can’t think of anything more difficult to define than this.

    Well, what is like? Let’s start there. It seems like a less intense form of love. I like ice cream. I like dogs. I like cars. I don’t LOVE all dogs but I have loved A dog in my life.

    Or enjoyment. Some people I enjoy talking to. I enjoy news stands and sitting outside in the sun drinking coffee.

    Then there’s affection or fondness for people; another form of love that’s kind of a “like” mixed with enjoyment, combined with care.

    Then there’s the BIG romantic love of the heart, which I think is very few and far in between: the loves of our life.

    I think healthy love is trust, with commitment, developed over time, with respect and understanding and the ability to grow together and share something significant in common; to share some sort of mutual path, whether this is romantic love or friend love.

    I think maybe love might be a continuum from liking ice cream to the Big love of soul mate, but I think anything loved more than one’s self turns to harm, turns to obsession and then turns to hatred, actually; whether this is drugs, food or a person/people. Maybe that’s what addiction is: loving something more than one loves the care of themselves to the point of extinction.

    Which was your last month’s topic about what is recovery. Isn’t recovery starting to love yourself more than you love other things?

    1. Wonderful Chris! Very thoughtful …full of thought. Thanks so much. And to answer your question, a future post will be wondering about things beyond our world.

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