What is love?

What is Love?

Psychologists tell us it is the opposite of “lust,” which “takes,” while “love” is giving.

A vaudeville comic in the Roaring Era of the 20s defined it as “a man’s desire to become some woman’s meal ticket.”

A physicist said, “Without love, we’re worth no more than a dollar worth of chemicals walking around lonely.”

And a poet proclaims that “Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.”

And people in love simply proclaim, “You mean the world to me.”

That last phrase was heard in the early 1900s in a song to convey how much one person cared for another – implying that the feelings are as big as the entire planet. And a picture book on love in 1994 has a father saying to a child, “I love you to the moon and back!” Then, as if not far enough, some users began saying, “I love you to the stars and back,” until one went still farther to say, “I love you to Alpha Centauri and back.”

Ah, love, l’amour, Liebe, habibi, amore…

We all agree that love is one of the most important human emotions, and for every way we feel love, there’s a word or phrase that tries to express it.

Perhaps that’s why we still play around sometimes even in jest with what the word expresses:

“Love is the thing that enables a woman to sing while she mops up the floor after her hubby has walked across it in his dirty boots.”

“If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?”

“True love comes quietly; if you hear bells, get your ears checked.”

“Love leads to marriage, a 3-ring circus: engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering.”

Famous writers have expressed love in brief:

– Victor Hugo: “Love makes time pass and time makes love pass.”

– Lord Byron: “Friendship may, and often does, grow into love, but love never subsides into friendship.”

– Kahlil Gibran: “When you love you should not say, ‘God is in my heart,’ but rather, ‘I am in the heart of God.'”

-Mary McMarthy: “You must’t force sex to do the work of love.”

– 17th century Proverb: “Follow love and it will flee; flee love and it will follow thee.”

– Tommy, age 6: “Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”

One wonders, why is it so difficult to settle on one definition? Could it be, perhaps, because the opposite of love, which beautifies, has been replaced during the past few years with hate, which destroys? If so, how do we get back on the right track again?

There are people who are searching. For one, actor/singer Jeff Daniels, founder of the Purple Rose theater in downstate Chelsie, recently recorded a hopeful series of songs, the most popular one, “America,” in which he pleads for us to become the loving Americans once again. And locally, if you read the Gazette’s Letters to the Editor page lately, you’ll find retired Tech Professor William Kennedy, a young student, Nick Wilson, and Carolyn Peterson – three locals urging us to return to love and normalcy. Just four recent Michigan voices, but it’s a start…

OK, and now here’s a frank, profound insight on love from an anonymous woman:


After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and sharing a life, and you learn that love doesn’t mean possession, and company doesn’t mean security, and loneliness is universal; and you lean that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises, and you begin to accept our defeats with your head up and your eyes open, with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build your hope on today, as the future has a way of falling apart in mid-flight, because tomorrow’s ground can be too uncertain for plans – yet each step taken in a new direction creates a path toward the promise of a brighter dawn, and you learn that even sunshine can burn if you get too much. So you plant your own garden and nourish your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers, and you learn that love – true love – always has both joys and sorrows ever present, yet is never quite the same, becoming more than love and less than love, so difficult to define.


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