So This is Love

How much have we lost to generalization? In our efforts to be inclusive, loving to all, caring to everyone on all fronts — have we lost the ability to show a deeper affection to those who deserve it most? So much has been lost in language, so much of what we feel is indescribable, and still, future generations will lose more as we continue to pear down our vocabularies to assist the ever growing nuisances of the English language. And what has suffered the most, from these linguistic evolutions? Love. Because we can not express its diversity, we can not comprehend it. As I consumed the text of Krista Tippet’s, “Becoming Wise,” her chapter on Love proved to be deeply profound — and prodded at my heart. Which seems fitting, given its title. But it was not in the way you might have expected it to be. I wasn’t prodded in the sense of feeling moved by some wonderful description of romance that had me reaching for the box of kleenex lingering at the side of my bed. No, this chapter was not akin to the Titanic, and did not move me in a similar way. Instead, it challenged me.

As I continued reading the chapter I found myself questioning everything I knew about love. What was it? I had been contributing to its watered-down nature as Krista liked to call it, but I barely knew what I wanted it to look like instead of some overused cop out that had a one-size-fits all look to it. Maybe its miserable of me to call it that, but truely, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. I catch myself saying it all the time. And then, when I really want someone to know their specialness in my life — their purpose and meaning to me, I end up rambling for five minutes. Love just won’t cut it these days. That’s not Love’s fault. It’s mine, it’s yours, it’s everyone’s fault. But it’s true, it doesn’t mean much, so you’ve got to bolster it — maybe use it as a cap off at the end of a mile long text and hope you’ve stated your thesis clearly enough on the matter. This is the long tangent I embarked on when I was reading the chapter, and just about the time I started asking myself what love is — Krista caught me. Which was a relief, since I am fairly good at getting lost in theoretical, philosophical ponderings.

She asked the question for me. “What is love? Answer the question through the story of your life.” (105) She says. This is deeply profound, since we are used to seeing and using love in a stance of an action. But it is deeply important to consider love as an entity, an ideal that operates almost as if it is its own being, passing through our lives and interacting with us at integral moments. But it is a being that belongs to an organization, where many exist, and many will interact with you. Although Krista begins to air on the side of some experiences of love being more wrong than others, I would almost caution against this sort of feeling. Yes, love can be damaging and misleading. But every moment in love, or out of love, is an experience lived. It is a moment that might have soured, but taught us something in the pursuit of a grander understanding. Love, in my mind, is a great teacher. If we are to think about it as an entity, beyond its standard emotional status everything about it changes. Continuously, this ethereal, multifaceted being leads us through experiences to teach us more about itself, so we can partake in its gifts, so we can know it more thoroughly. Love starts to sound an awful lot like God when I put it like that, but that’s an entirely different conversation — although, one well worth having. But maybe not now.

Krista points out some wonderful things. Among my favorites is when she points out that the desire to be loved is only the beginning to experiencing love. (108) And still, although I agree with her point, I’m still inclined to think love is greater still. It resides in the dark abandoned parts of our humanness, and it resides beyond us in the relationships we cultivate with our friends, family, and peers. I believe there is no focusing on one love or another, we cultivate true love in ourselves and others by maintaining honesty of our desires and our giving. I might be entirely pessimistic about life, but I don’t believe it’s possible — in our humanness — to live without the basic desire of being loved. We can not get rid of it, minimize it, or contain it for too long. It is in my personal opinion that anyone who says they have overcome this feeling is lying. But it can be our greatest insight into empathy, when we realize everyone is the same. I think the true strength of a person lies not in suppressing this, but in living in tandem with it. Learning to accept oneself, learning to love our own brokenness so we do not let it taint our ability to love others.

Overall, I was enthralled by Krista’s perspectives, wisdom, and stories. To love is the greatest commandment, and perhaps it is the most difficult, since it requires us to not only confront ourselves, but extend something beyond words to convey its true meaning.

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