In Which I Attempt the Impossible
I must be insane to tackle this one. There are pirates to blame--first, a conversation with the Untouchable Object, followed by the serendipitous discovery of several blogs and articles on the very same subject. With nothing but my own past relationships to guide me, I make this attempt to define "love."
One of the pirate's blogs made an impressive attempt to define Love. You know the sort of thing: love is selfless and noble, love is your heart beating in the soul of another, love is the fulfillment of a missing part of yourself, finding your soulmate, your perfect complement in human form. Full of philosophical phrases and idealistic concepts, there was much Truth in this definition. However, I came away as frustrated as ever, for as True as it seemed, I don't think it captured the essence of what Love is, at least not in real life.
So I was left still without a satisfying definition. And here's the problem: On my one hand I could count the number of men I've loved, and still have fingers left over. Such little experience for one so old as I (shut up!) but though I have not loved many, I did love them long. And when I say I loved each of these men, the meaning is so greatly different for each one that it seems strange to use the same word to describe it.
So what is the common element among these that makes them all fit the category of "love" in my mind?
And this is what I came up with: Profound Change.
Each of these men changed me on a soul level in some way. Either by inspiring me to grow, by teaching me important lessons I could not learn without loving, or by opening my eyes to things I'd never seen before--loving these men changed me.
Which brings me to the second thing I've been pondering about love: Is it foolish to love someone who does not love you?
And wow! No, it doesn't have to be. Love doesnít have to be mutual to be real. You can be profoundly changed by someone without ever having the same effect on him. The foolishness comes in when you confuse love with possession. When someone changes you in a positive way, you can easily imagine that the positive change is dependent on having that person in your life. But no. A truly profound change in yourself is permanent and will remain even when that person is just a memory.
Furthermore, when you love someone, i.e. when you experience a profound change in yourself as a result of knowing this person, you might not cause any such change at all in them. Could be you are not the person to provide the kind of change they need in their life right now. So no matter how deep and profound your feelings are for this person, they may not feel the same thing for you, and that doesnít make loving them a tragedy. Take that positive change away toward the future and use it, build on it, learn from it.
I just can't groove with the "love is a verb, not a noun" theory of love, that love is something you do, not something you feel. I think all of the things you do, you do because of what you feel. The "feel" (love) comes first, then comes the "do." Sure, you do selfless things for the one you love, but you do it because of the way you feel for them. The selflessness doesnít really define the emotion, at least not for me.
And I think itís possible to have a true and significant love for someone without any of that fate-destiny-soulmate nonsense. Things like fate and destiny come into play when love is reciprocated and equal. Again, I donít think the connection defines the emotion; rather, the soul connection is a result of the emotions on both parts toward one another. First you have the emotion, then you have the connection. So you canít define the emotion in terms of the connection.