While wondering about the real meaning of love, I asked myself if I could describe what the words means, in all its complexity and beauty?
“Love” is perhaps the most meaning-loaded word in the English language (and likely in every language).
So, how do I unravel a Gordian knot? Well, with extreme difficulties.
Here are a few of my thoughts on the Gordian knot that is love, in three takes:
I. What is love?
The philosopher stated: “It’s a perennial question.”
“It’s a biochemical reaction in the brain,” contributed the scientist.
“It’s written in the stars,” mused the poet.
The mystic paused, before saying: “It’s all there is.”
“It’s all you need,” concluded the Beatles-member.
< Entertaining. But not helpful. Next. >
II. Different types of love:
Like the ancient Greeks, I might divide love into its different kinds, including Eros (erotic love) and Agape (selfless love).
I may find that there’s romantic love, platonic love, spiritual love, self-love.
There’s conditional and unconditional love.
There’s falling in love, staying in love, being in love. Falling out of love.
Love for one’s child, love for a friend, love for a pet. Love for chocolate.
So much love it gets quite confusing. Using the same word for one’s child and chocolate, it’s almost amusing. ( = ???)
< True. But not helpful. Next. >
III. I want to share a secret about love. No, make that two:
1. Love is a mystery
Not only is love itself a mystery, the object of one’s love is one, too.
Probably nobody described this better than the German-speaking novelist Franz Kafka:
“We are as forlorn as children lost in the woods. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours. And if I were to cast myself down before you and weep and tell you, what more would you know about me than you know about Hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful? For that reason alone we human beings ought to stand before one another as reverently, as reflectively, as lovingly, as we would before the entrance to Hell.”
(As powerful as this quote is, it packs an even bigger punch in its original language.)
Why does it matter that love is a mystery?
Because mysteries are meant to be explored, not explained.
< I’m getting closer. What’s next? >
2. Love is…everyone
Because love is what it all boils down to in the end.
I’m really moved by what bestselling author Dawn Clark learned in a near-death experience. She put it this way:
“Anything that’s not love is just begging to be healed.”
And for me, that sentence is the cut that unravels this particular Gordian knot.
So, here’s how I’d describe the real meaning of love:
Love is everything except that which has yet to be healed to become love.