Thinking about what it means to have loved and be loved can cause anyone to feel as though they are fighting a losing battle. Love is illusive and it is unable to be proven. There is no test that can tell us if something is true love or simply a fleeting high caused by endorphins or mental delusions of lust. Love is just a word. But this word has had many songs, novels, and poems written about it, and wars are repeatedly fought for it, therefore love can hardly be just a word. The emotions evoked by love can be all consuming, and can even be disheartening, yet people continue to search for, create, and covet love. Love is the one human condition that we all strive to discover, even with the knowledge that it may not always bring joy.
There are several different ways in which love is expressed: love for a child, love for a lover, love for family and friend, love for nature, love of self, love of humanity. The list could go on and on into the infinite. Anytime there is a genuine appreciation of life, there is a possibility of love.
Because our society reflects an objects value by price, we have a tendency to measure all things of value with numbers. Love is no different than any object of value, and it has fallen victim to our competitive spirit via our preoccupation with numbers and measurements. I am referring to our desire to quantify love, in order to reflect its importance. We attempt to measure love's success in terms of time. The longer the relationship exists then the better the relationship is. It is celebrated in how long people have been married, in how often we talk, and in how long we have been friends. It suggests that the most successful way to measure love is for it to stand the test of time. There is a caveat, what if that love was not meant to stand the test of time? What happens when a love is fleeting? Does that signify it as being less important or not significant?
I believe love is transient and fleeting. It cannot be something we covet. We must let go of it in order to realize it's power. The concept of letting go, or not holding on so tight, is the common struggle we all have with love. If we let go of what we love, then how can we quantify it? And, if we cannot quantify it, then how can we prove to others, and to ourselves it's value? For this very reason, the attempt to measure love in terms of time leads to a destruction of love, or a perversion of it.
I have been considering the meaning of love recently because of a new love in my life. This love will not last in human years for very long. In fact, this love has already surpassed it expiration date. This love has a very important purpose, but one that can be taught in a very short and brief amount of time. I have a niece, who has been born with Trisomy 13, and is not expected to live longer than a year. Her name is Melissa, and my heart and soul are full of love for her. This love may be fleeting and transient, but it is a deep and powerful love. It will not be able to be measured by time, nor will it even try to stand up to the test of time. Even though our time together will not be long, she will hold a spot in my heart that will not ever disappear. Because of her, I have learned that love does not have to be measured in order to determine its worth. The value of love is not to be determined by its ability to withstand time.
Her parents will not always want to tell her story to everyone they meet, but that does not change the significance of her life, or how we love her. She will always be a daughter and a niece, and her parents will always be her mother and father. Her soul is like a flash of lightning during a storm. It lights up the sky and shows us all that is hidden by the cover of darkness, and then dissappears as quickly as it appeared. Her soul is a beacon of light that has warmed all of our hearts. She reminds all of us how blessed we are to experience life and love no matter how brief and painful.
I have come to believe that love is not something that should be measured. It will never be able to be quantified. No one will ever be able to tell you why love has affected them in the most moving ways. We all create a web of love in different patterns and sizes. It is an intricate weaving of threads, some of threads are bare, some are breaking, and new patterns are always being made. We continue to weave the web, knowing that someday our web will be knocked down, but we continue to build it because it will sustain us. Love sustains us.
Love is about wanting others happiness, and has nothing to do with our own. It is the most challenging and daunting of all emotions to experience for its purity. The most fitting description I have heard of love is in a song by Leonard Cohen, "love is not a victory march, it is a cold and it is a broken hallelujah". Melissa's life may not have a victory march, but it will certainly be filled with hallelujahs.
How do you define love?