Is it possible to write freshly about the oldest topic since the beginning of humankind? I have spent my meager 27 years of existence trying to wrap my head around it- trying to chase it, to hold it in a jar, wondering how to let it illuminate me, how to let it transform me and those around me.
We think we understand it. The majority of all songs try to capture its nuances in some form, whether decrying it or extolling it. We’ve heard about it from every medium, and we have certainly received it in certain forms. There were many times in my past where I was sure I felt it. Looking back, it’s hard to say, because I now contrast everything in my past to the present I am living.
It is the driving force behind everything, whether or not we acknowledge that fact. It transforms everything it touches. Everything we do comes from the love we choose to share or withhold.
It is so easy to sound cliché when talking about love, because it seems that everything about it has been said. Language falls short in describing this most unique of all emotions. We say the same things, not because we cannot think of anything else to say, but because those clichéd phrases hold a deep truth that we have simply taken for granted. Gustave Flaubert famously wrote in his breathtaking novel Madame Bovary that “none of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” Language, while beautiful and meaningful, has its limitations, and love seems to be beyond its capacity, hard as we try.
Love, like much else in this world, changes and evolves. We are unaware of the forms and the strength it can take until we are deep in its throes. When we are children, we feel the safe, unconditionally love of our parents. When we are teenagers, we experience our first tantalizing taste of passion (and naivety) and we are convinced we have found The One (every time). As we get older, we experience the painful side of love and the devastation of broken trust and forgotten feelings. And after all this trial and error, we still hope for a kind of love everyone says exists, even if we may feel slightly unconvinced that it does. And then…we find it. We find this deeper, truer feeling than we knew we could experience. It’s better than what we could imagine. It’s heaven, it’s perfection. And even later, as all parents (even the surprised or unsure ones) will tell you, the love you have for your children is like nothing you have ever experienced.
And so love comes full circle.
I think we are so fascinated by love because it contains so much more than just amorous feelings. It contains trust, instinct, validity, safety, nurturing, listening, encouragement, challenge, and friendship. We search for it because we search for all of these things. Love makes people act with more grace, more compassion, and more kindness. What we receive, or what we’ve forgotten we’ve received impacts the way we treat our fellow human beings. The sting of lost or betrayed love can fertilize bitterness and anger, but the force of a deep, unconditional love cannot be contained and blossoms to show its face wherever it goes.
They say love is blind, because many times we are unable to see (or deliberately ignore) the flaws in other people, many times to the detriment of a relationship and personal health. But we do this because we love that person- in light of love, we are able- and willing!- to look past certain flaws and shortcomings with grace, because we love them. My question is, what if we took the healthy part of that- the grace and acceptance of others and others’ humanness- and applied it to everyone we meet? How different would the world look? I think this is the question that so many poets and songwriters have tried to answer. If we truly put love at the forefront of our minds, and at the foundation of all we do, perhaps we can make our lives, and the lives of those around us, more beautiful. I’m all for trying.