Monday, September 19, 2011

What is Love?

A question that hangs heavily in the minds of many, and while the stereotypical idea of the person who would ask this question is that of a puppy loving schoolgirl, it isn't hard to find both men and women seeking this answer despite finding themselves out of college and entering their forties. At that point it seems most people end the search and try to put it out of their minds, ashamed of the time they have lost in their quest for enlightenment.

Even those few who feel they understand the truth of this supposed element, "Love," often find themselves reevaluating their theories, and more often than not pulling a total 180° and never looking back. The hunt goes on, or the wearer traveler drops dead. An answer will elude mankind for all eternity, and no single individual will ever be able to define an absolute form of "love."

Einstein may have been able to define "E,"
but he couldn't figure this one out, huh?
Making the matter even more confusing is that everybody seems to have a unique concept of "love," which makes revealing a universal definition quite the challenge, and even if someone feels as though they have stoppered all the loopholes, conditions, and exemptions of most other individuals, somebody else will disagree, and they will disagree with such boisterousness that others will follow their example, and once again divide the commonly accepted meaning you have so cleverly crafted.

Because of this, it would be foolish of me to attempt a universal definition, and it would be selfish and unethical of me to attempt to conform you to my personal ideals of the meaning of "love." Even more so when you consider how likely it is that my own ideals will be changed by myself in the next two or three months, as these sorts of things are always metamorphosing. 

Kind of like Ditto, but even more.
At first I thought of love as something shared only by two individuals. The typical "puppy love" concept, although to a greater, and much more selfless, degree. I believed the only true love was that shared by, well, lovers, and that all other connections were feeble, hollow, and weak. It even seemed, for a while at least, that this idea of the romantic couple was lost, and that "love" existed only between two people who could stand to see each other naked every night.

Both of those thoughts caused me many months of anxiety that I really shouldn't have needed to endure. If my brain weren't such a loud mouth, I may have been able to sleep. My understanding is now far more diverse, and less in the realm of pornography. While it is true that some call what really amounts to exclusive friends-with-benefits "love," I don't believe that's what it is. And while it's true that the most obvious, and definitely real, form of love is that between spouses, there are many other more diverse definitions.

But I'll roll with this one just a little longer.
Sex is considered part of spousal love, and there's good reason for it. This is the main reason why spousal, or "romantic," love is considered the deepest and most glorified of the forms of love, and why there is a very large difference between "fucking" and "making love." The concept of "fucking" in itself has actually cheapened sex to the point where it almost means nothing to a large majority of individuals, however there are many whom still feel that deep intimacy. There's something to be said for the submission of both parties when making love. Your partner and yourself become one, your souls are no longer playing footsies, they are merging seamlessly.

When just fucking, there is no connection, other than a penis to a vagina, or whatever other order and combination of orifices and protrusions you care to smash together. But a large amount of the difference lies in the appreciation of the partner. Lovers would traverse tundras naked to meet their significant other again, while fuckers let each other freeze, and probably eat whoever dies first.

Or they make a child that clearly... isn't all there...
Then there's camaraderie, which is far different from romantic love. I would advise very much that you do not confuse these forms of love, as having sex with your childhood buddy is not a great way to express this. And in truth, this is a far trickier concept of love than is romantic or familial love. Camaraderie is something that seems to be greatly ignored in out society, and often even mocked, and it probably has a lot to do with its lack of media portrayal, and of course the arrogance of the typical beef head.

The love of friends is rarely expressed as such. Telling your pal you "love" them, in today's society, is a pretty good way to get a broken nose and a pretty big misunderstanding. In fact, the notion of possibly accepting true friends in a sense of "love" is an outlandish one. To most people, anyways. There seems to be some confusion among most people that friends are unimportant, or merely gateways to social opportunities. To appreciate a friend enough to consider them an important part of your life?

"Why, Sir, we call that gay."
However there is a certain nobility in being accepted as a loved one by a close friend, and there's an equal amount of nobility in accepting a close friend as a loved one. Someone you can depend on, unconditionally, who is neither your spouse nor your brother by birth. Individuals who accept each other and assist each other under almost any circumstances. A friendship, a bond, like that is something to be admired, and a love like this is potentially the most difficult to come by, and in many senses, the most valuable to have.

Now the oddball of the family: familial love. I haven't quite figured out my take on the concept of familial love. Are you to love someone simply because they brought you into this world? Well, what the hell kind of gift is that? Now you're doomed to indebted servitude, taxes, and heartbreak! Despite this, there is a bond that unifies a family. A child will appreciate and love its caretakers, and a certain, very distinct intimacy will form between them. This same intimate feeling reaches out to those who share large quantities of your blood, but it is difficult to have an appreciation for distant cousins. And why should you, if they have no real meaning in your life?

Familial love is also difficult to understand because, despite being the default mindset, it is possible, and likely, that it will at some point be shattered, and it is very difficult to repair. A mother may love her child, but if she doesn't know how to handle that love, her child may very well grow out of his helplessness-induced love for her.

Which lends itself to the confusing concept of parental love, the final form. Parental love is the unique love a parent feels for their child. This love is strictly one way, which makes it unique as all the other forms are reciprocated love. When a parent sees their child, they see not only an individual, they see bits and pieces of themselves, and while it may be narcissistic to love oneself, it isn't exactly a bad thing. Humans always want to see themselves as the best the world has to offer, but they also want to defend themselves from harm. These two desires are focused on the child, even after they have kids of their own.

Well, there you have it. My opinions on a topic you didn't ask about, in an article that lacks a great deal of my usual charm (and unfortunately, all my good looks.) However, being one of those lost and confused young adult things, I often find myself wondering about emotions and that wonderful nonsense most of my generation are drinking so hard to ignore. I'm still fine tuning and organizing all my thoughts here, and as I hear new theories I'm always beginning to understand and accept a little more. So I'm just wondering, what do you all think is the definition of love?

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