Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love is a verb.

Okay, it's that time of year again.  The stores are selling flowers, chocolates, and wine.  People are getting closer to their significant others, planning extravagant dates, making life changes, and finding ways to express their love.  That's what the day is all about:  a celebration of "love."

But what is love?  [Baby, don't hurt me.]

I'll start by making clear what love is not.  Love is not a feeling that you get.  Love is not something that happens to you.  Love is not a pit you helplessly fall into.  Love is not a magic spell. There are a lot of people out there trying to sell that image of love:  love as a state that falls upon you, that envelops and transforms your world.  This is the image of love you see in romantic stories and in jewelry commercials.

The image of love is butterflies.  Hormones.  Impulse.  Sweeping orchestral music.  But this image is absurd.

Love is not a noun; it is a verb!  And love is not a feeling; it is a commitment!

Love is a choice!

Love is getting up in the morning and consciously deciding to commit to a person, to help them more than you help yourself, to care about their needs and wants above your own.  Love is a constant struggle to remember that commitment, to embrace it and to keep it close.  Love is consistent maintenance, work and effort; love is blood, sweat, and tears.  Love is humility and adaptability.  Love is emotional vulnerability.  Love is taking someone into the most intimate parts of your life.  Therefore, love is a gamble, because love is opening yourself up to the risk of others hurting you, hating you, or leaving you.  Love is suffering.

Love is empathy.  Love is looking at an imperfect soul and choosing to love it in spite of its flaws, and perhaps (in a way) even because of them.  Love is embracing a person holistically, scars and all.  Love is recognizing and respecting the humanness of an Other and inviting that Other into your world.  Love is compassion.

Love is a beautiful thing.  But it's beautiful because people are beautiful, and people are what make it work.  Love takes hard work!  And hard work is beautiful!

So, happy Valentine's Day, readers.  I urge you to look at the people around you, the people who count on you and care about you.  Find some way to love them.  And you will be beautiful.