I Know What Love Is
I Know What Love Is...
‘I love you, darling.’ ‘I love you, too.’ I love Pixel the cat. I love radiant sunsets, trees, grass, turtles, the way the ocean splashes against the shore. I love baseball, beer, good movies and trashy novels. Yes! I know what love is.
In ancient Greece Helen of Troy symbolized the prized possession of love that brough disaster to those who tried to keep her. A stolen bride is given in marriage to a wealthy Spartan king who wins her in a contest. Later she is carried off by Paris, the Trojan prince, an act that launched a thousand ships and a ten year war complete with a wooden horse filled with hidden soldiers.
In 1597 another mythic story, one of star-crossed lovers, Juliet and her Romeo by Will Shakespeare carried the prophecy forward. The irresistible blush and pleasure we associate with love seems always to invite its shadow to the party.
From antiquity, in bibilical letters, medieval sonets, Persian poetry, right up to today’s country western and pop music – stories abound describing how love slips through our fingers. We talk about it, stalk it, fight wars over it, try to possess and control it - and always seem to fall into despair when it disappears. But can anyone say for certain, ‘I know what love is?’
A friend divorced a controlling, narcissistic and violent husband. She feared for her life and at times the lives of their children and yet, simultaneously, she expects her children to love this man. Is that really possible? Does spawning an offspring automatically bestow enduring love on anyone?
Consider the possibility that true love is ephemeral, earned and renewed moment by moment. If anything at all, love, like relationship, is a living thing, dynamic and reciprocal, not fixed like a statue, painting or provincial tradition. Each nurtures the other’s awakening, growth and well-being and is, in the process, blessed and nurtured by experiencing the many ways this continued renewal expresses daily in the relationship.
The moment duty, obligation or expectation seeps in, replacing spontaneous affection, trust, and respect, the life-force that is the true relationship dies. No, I argue forcefully, love and obligation are mutually exclusive. The presence of one drives out the other. There is never an obligation to love - even our parents.
Do you know what love is?