Sunday, April 10, 2011

What is Love?

I'm sure that many people would find it difficult to explain but incredibly easy to experience. Feeling it can take you from being an incredible bundle of nerves to being completely delicious and calm. I don't think it's something that just happens to you, but something you allow to exist between you and your mate, your child, your friend, etc. And it is something that you have to want.

The people, places and things that I love all have one common denominator... me. The reality is, in order for my relationships to exist or thrive, it is dependent upon me to make a choice to want to love them. And one I must continually make in order for it to survive. Any married couple will tell you that it takes work to remain in love with your partner. You have to want to be in love or otherwise it would be like just having any old person off the street or a stranger in that relationship with you. Some would say that even if you don't feel "in love" you do always love them. I would disagree with that since a person's idea of commitment, personal ethics, morals and values do manifest themselves at times where feelings of love are lacking. People say it's love, but I would contend that if they didn't choose to stick around or honor that person, it would be breaking what, in their mind, they have reasoned as correct and appropriate behavior.

Your spouse, significant other, partner, whatever label you give it, is someone who you've chosen to experience life with instead of being alone. You and he/she have decided that the things that make you as individuals special are appealing and worth sticking around for. Those attributes make it fun, interesting, easy and a myriad of other reasons. If those things would no longer exist in your partner, you would also be less willing to stay in that relationship, as evidenced by so many breakups and divorces. It is, once again, a choice.
The majority of people would say that loving children is a given and occurs naturally. One would like to think that, but this inaccuracy can easily be seen with all the hostilities and criminal acts occurring against the innocent children in our world, from poverty through the often headlined atrocities we see in the various cultures around the world. Again, we are choosing to love and in this case, it is not just a sense of attachment and fondness for the children but also, a sense of justice in protecting the innocent. Their need to grow in a safe environment is crucial to their development and ability to succeed as the next generation. We either choose to be fully geared towards loving and nurturing or we are neglectful, not engaged or worse, monsters. But protection isn't the only thing that continues to deepen that relationship of parent and child or love for each other, it is seeing accomplishments, joys, personalities emerging, good times and even times that are bad but worked through, those are the things that give the relationship the opportunity to continue. It is a commitment to each other because of those times that sustains it. Again, it's a choice.

The love for friends doesn't happen immediately, it grows over time but also, requires the willingness of both to allow the relationship to blossom into a deeper sense of caring for the other. They show you who they are, you show them who you are and interests, shared experiences and good/bad times weaves intricate webs of keeping you together in that love for each other. Continued commitment to that friendship is evidenced during changes of likes, dislikes, values and thought processes. But shifts in those things can also break a relationship if your own positions are more valuable to you than the continued shared experience. And again, it's a choice.

The things we love about inanimate objects really only comes from a place of what is pleasing to us as individuals. The things we enjoy help to create a sense of joy, ease and calm or satisfaction within us. This is why we choose those things. It gives us something in return for our affection for them. And yet again, it's a choice.

I think that last bit sums it up best as to what love is. We want it because of what it gives to us or does for us. When it stops giving you what you want, you don't feel the same things about it anymore and you don't want to love it anymore. So, in the end, wanting it is a choice and experiencing it will only continue if you want it to.

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