What is Love?

That’s right: I pose the question to you.

You’re actually not the first I’ve asked this question to. A little over a year ago I was at the bar for a friend’s birthday and I was chatting to one of our mutual friends and the subject of “What is love?” came up. I dared him to go ask a random group of ladies, but he refused. In lieu of this, I decided I would ask a random group of guys this question (which my brother to this day says is really creepy, but I digress). I spotted the fateful group, strode over purposely, cleared my throat as I sidled up to these men, and said, “Excuse me gents, but I have a question for you: what is love?”

I think they were a tad shell-shocked. After their initial stupor, however, I managed to get some interesting answers out of them, such as “John 3:16,” and (my favourite), “When you can still stand the person after 10 years.” Since then, every once in a while I ponder the question anew, and once again I find myself in that same spot:

A couple days ago, I heard myself saying that I ‘love’ a pair of shoes (or it could have been a specific kind of sandwich; I really cannot remember), and it suddenly made me stop and think to myself, “Do I really ‘love’ that?” And then I began thinking about how many times a day I say I ‘love’ something, with that something being an inanimate object that may look nice or taste great, but really offers no companionship, respect, or love in return.

I know I’m not the only one who does this. We all at some point have said, “I loved that movie!” or “I love that dress!” or “I love spaghetti.” My question, however, is why? We don’t really love that movie or dress or spaghetti because (from what I understand, and I can’t remember where I got this from, so please forgive me!) “love is a decision, not a feeling,” and that decision has to be made between two people who commit to that decision. What we really mean when we talk about ‘loving’ inanimate objects is, “I really enjoyed that movie,” “This dress makes me look and feel great,” and “Spaghetti is my favourite food because I like how it tastes.”

So, why don’t we use those descriptions of our feelings rather than saying we ‘love’ all these things? I don’t know. It isn’t as if saying what we actually mean is any more difficult than saying we ‘love’ the movie, dress, and spaghetti. What I do know is that we’ve all gotten so used to using the word ‘love’ carelessly, me included. What we should do is focus on using the word ‘love’ as it was meant to be used: with people. But I have a feeling that the reason why we use the word ‘love’ when talking about inanimate objects as much as we do is because we’re afraid of using it with people. Saying we love something  does not put one in an uncomfortable, vulnerable place like saying we love someone can. So, really, we’re all just a bunch of cowards (again, me included).

That’s just really sad. Here we are, the most technologically advanced human beings that ever walked this earth, and we are all just a bunch of sissies. We are so afraid of opening ourselves up to making lasting connections with people that we turn to our material possessions for comfort and love, with which there is none!

So here is my challenge to you (and I will strive to follow it as well). The next time you catch yourself saying that you ‘love’ a piece of clothing or a type of food, correct yourself! We use too many words as it is, so they might as well be ones that truly and specifically convey our thoughts and emotions.

Good luck and happy enjoying!

Peace,

Joyanne 😀

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “What is Love?

  1. JT

    one thing to consider as well is that the english language only has one word for love… whereas in greek there are a few of them. such as agape, phileo and eros. you can love your sibling and your spouse… but it isn’t necessarily the same love. you phileo your sibling and agape (and eros) your spouse.

    just a thought.

    • Very good point; I forgot about the different Greek terms used to describe love. That just makes me think that the English language is very unequipped to describe all type of love, which may also account for our difficulty with talking about it.

  2. shirley

    The way I see it is that there are many different types of love (platonic, familial, romantic, etc) and it’s hard to really pin it down and give it a description (kind of like the whole “What is life?” question). But I agree, it’s so easy to use love when describing inanimate objects or abstract things (like music), and at the same time it can be stupidly hard to say when directing it towards other people. Also, I have to admit it’s a lot easier/simpler to say “I love this sandwich” than “I am really passionate about this sandwich and I am going to devour it with gusto!”

    • Also true. As I replied to JT, I feel that the English language, then, doesn’t do a very good job of describing love like other languages do and because we then have to work harder to be specific about which love we’re talking about, we default to using love to describe everything.
      As for the sandwich comment, point taken!

  3. Alan Loose

    Read, The Four Loves, by C S Lewis

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