Love is such a beautiful and powerful word – yet, one of the most abused ones in the whole human language.
It is defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person”. Another definition it provides is “attraction that includes sexual desire: the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship” and “a person you love in a romantic love”. In short, the grammatical definition of love suggests it is a feeling, a sense of attraction to someone or something.
However, I will beg to differ with the definition offered by the dictionary. Love is not a feeling, nor a sexual desire. Not even an attraction. If it were so, wouldn’t it be very superficial? If a person claimed to love another person, it would suffice to feel attraction to them in order to love. Whether the love is reciprocal or not, love would still be valid as there is attraction and a sense of affection to some degree. The same would hold true for a leader who claims to love their people, or a parent who says to love their children. Based on the very fact that there is a likeness and affection, love would be possible.
It is to an extent unfortunate that love cannot be defined in just a few words or sentences, and this is one of the main reasons why the word is abused recklessly. A person can claim to love a certain sport or hobby, which -as it turns obvious- speaks about the love of a person to a non-human concept. The same applies when a person says to love their pet, and also for someone who admits to love nature. Is it real love, then, what these people can feel for animals, arts or other non-human recipients?
Love can be, then, understood in very different lights. The love that a person has for their spouse or children is not any more legitimate than the love someone can have for their dog or cat, or the love they could potentially have for arts and culture. Each of them can be authentic love, or just a liking and affection felt for something or someone as defined in the dictionary. In all instances, it becomes important to understand the true concept of love – and all that it implies.
It usually takes years of reflection, experiences and revelations to understand the true meaning of love. Like other abstract concepts such as justice or freedom, love does not have an exact definition and therefore the term can be easily misused. However, upon some meditation and proper emotional guidance (whether scientific or spiritual), the concept of love is revealed to us and understood, and it is then that we are able to tell real love from other forms of affection inaccurately labelled as love.
Perhaps the most shocking revelation about love is understanding that it is not about “me”, but it is about the recipient of our love. Love is not a simple feeling and does not only depend on whether we like something or someone, but it also has to do with the relationship as a whole that the individual holds with that something or someone. If a person claims to love their spouse by virtue of the fact that they like each other, would that suffice to constitute real love? What are the other spouse’s thoughts on this individual? What kind of commitments of sacrifices has this person done for the sake of love to their partner?
Love, in its true meaning, is intrinsically linked to the commitment and dedication that a person has to the subject of their love. Love encompasses time, dedication, and willingness to give the best of ourselves to the well-being and development of the recipient of our love. In that regard, a person who says to love their dog can in fact hold a truer love to their pet which they take care of every day, nurture, look after their well being, and makes their best to ensure the pet has a happy life, than an individual who claims to love their spouse, yet puts all their personal desires in a greater rank of importance than those of their significant other. Likewise, if a person claims to love food and cooks meals for other people, enhances recipes or teaches others their culinary ability so the wealth of knowledge can be shared to broader audiences, that love holds more true than the love that a person can claim to have for pizza based solely on the fact that this particular dish provides personal pleasure to them.
A person who truly loves something or someone intertwines their mind and soul with that of their love recipient, and therefore both become as one. A man who marries a woman and truly feels her soul, faces her issues as his own, listens to her mind and soul and gives the very best of himself to ensure her well being loves her. If she does the same for him, it is a consummated love. The same applies for a person for their art, a sport, a pet, a parent, a child, or whatever not. Love is a two way avenue that requires effort, dedication, and commitment. It may not always pay immediate dividends in the shape of emotional pleasure or enjoyment, and as a matter of fact it is almost guaranteed to bring sour times to our lives. Nevertheless, love is a long term commitment: If we plant the right seeds in a fertile soil from the get go, we will reap its benefits throughout our lifetime – and who knows? Maybe even beyond.