Love means different things to different people

Love. What exactly is it? I’m not even sure, and I write this column. Nobody has really defined it, that’s why there are countless songs, quotes and poems about it.

There are some great quotes out there on love. Some are kind of dumb and make no real sense, so I’m not going to write about them. You know what I mean, the ones like: “Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time.” “Love is friendship set on fire.” “If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?” They’re cute, but have no deep meaning.

The movie “Meet Joe Black,” on the other hand, comes the closest to defining it. Love quote number one is, “It’s like, you know each other’s secrets. Your deepest, darkest secrets. Yeah, and then you’re free. You’re free, you’re free to love each other completely, totally, just no fear. So there’s nothing you don’t know about each other and it’s okay.” The second, in dialogue form: William Parrish: “How perfect for you – to take whatever you want because it pleases you. That’s not love.” Joe Black: “Then what is it?” Parrish: “Some aimless infatuation, which, for the moment, you feel like indulging – it’s missing everything that matters.” Black: “Which is what?” Parrish: “Trust, responsibility, taking the weight for your choices and feelings, and spending the rest of your life living up to them. And above all, not hurting the object of your love.” Black: “So that’s what love is according to William Parrish?” Parrish: “Multiply it by infinity, and take it to the depth of forever, and you will still have barely a glimpse of what I’m talking about.” And, lastly, “Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. If you don’t start with that, what are you going to end up with? Fall head over heels. I say find someone you can love like crazy and who’ll love you the same way back. And how do you find him? Forget your head and listen to your heart. I’m not hearing any heart. Run the risk, if you get hurt, you’ll come back. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love – well, you haven’t lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.”

Other movies try to explain love in a more realistic way. Take, for example, a quote from “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin:” “When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No, don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!”

Funnily enough, and as boring as that last quote sounds, it’s true. Love is exciting, literally and physically. We get butterflies and sweaty palms and we can’t eat and we can’t sleep. It sounds like some terrible illness, doesn’t it? Yet, when it’s experienced, there’s nothing comparable. There’s even a quote that talks about it. “Wanna hear something really subversive? Love is all it’s cracked up to be … it really is worth fighting for, being strong for, risking everything for. And the fact is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.”

Even children understand love – maybe better than any of us, because they seem to be the most eloquent about it. This quote is from a seven-year-old: “Love is when you tell someone something bad about yourself and you’re scared they won’t love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more.” And this one is from a six-year-old: “Love is when someone hurts you. And you get so mad, but you don’t yell at them because it would hurt their feelings.”

After reading all of these quotes, and after being in different situations, my conclusion is that we have trouble defining love because it means different things to us at different times in our lives, and every time we fall for a new person, we swear it couldn’t have been love the last time. Just like people have different priorities, they will have different expectations and hopes for the love that they want. And now I’ll leave you with one of my newest personal favorites, “It’s like all of the bad stuff that you went through, that you hated along the way, the people who disappointed you, the things that didn’t go the way you wanted, suddenly you feel grateful to them because they’re the things that got you to here. To this.” – The perfect man.