What is love?
Among the 23 different definitions offered by Dictionary.com, here are a few that stuck:
- “A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.”
- “sexual passion or desire”
- “a term of endearment”
Despite the millions of love songs, poems, and novels accessible through the modern (online) world, we’ve yet to define it in an all encompassing way. As someone in my twenties, quickly encroaching on definite adulthood, that is, one defined by actions rather than age, I want to understand what love is. A love that matters, a love that lasts. Something that most of us, despite our fervent denials, really desire. Since love serves as a basis, or rather a theme throughout “Omega”, I’ve set out to define it… Because understanding what something is, can be the first step to understanding why we want it as badly as we do. Real Talk: I’m going to help you define love…As best as I can.
It is almost impossible to acknowledge the idea of love without also understanding its multi-faceted nature. In that sense, most love can be categorized in three ways: romantic, platonic, and transcendental. I understand that this last addition might spark some debate, but just hear me out. Without specific parameters, I began my research with a simple question: What is love?
The first person I asked, was my friend *Stephanie, also single and in her twenties.
“What is love? That’s a very deep question I guess. Romance is definitely the first thing that pops in my head when you mention that word. I think the way I see love… is just… When you’re able to be comfortable with someone with how you are and you don’t have to change yourself. Also when you’re not with them you feel this longing, this thinking about a future where you might be… you just naturally start blushing, your heart starts beating… *laughs* I know that’s cheesy. You’re Not afraid to show them off to people, want to introduce them to everyone. Your friends are accepting of them. When there are disagreements, you’re not afraid to state your argument, because you want to work through it. In the end, you’re able to move past that and make the bonding. I’d spoil them *laughs*”.
Without specific guidelines, people could answer however they pleased, thus hitting or missing the three aforementioned categories. Although this generalization may be detrimental in some regards, I found it refreshing to receive different outlooks.
From my jaded 25 year-old friend, “Love is a lie.”
Short, but not necessarily sweet. I pried for a better response, and came to realize that most people’s initial insinuation with the word fell under romantic notions. Whether this was a direct consequence of our media exposure, or just a natural inclination, I’m uncertain. Nonetheless, love as a platonic or transcendental understanding seemed to be a mere mirage throughout the younger demographic. After a prolonged pause, my friend continued, stating that I was among the few people he loved in this world. As a man of few words, and even fewer flings, these words seemed to hold a particular weight. Lasting love, to him, was one of a platonic source. He considered it synonymous with “people he’d die for”, and I came to consider the sometimes melodramatic consequences of this thing we call love. Both a verb and a noun, a subject and an action, it’s meaning seemed as reachable as the stars in the galaxy. Just a glimmering hope. Yet something we seemed to fight almost violently for. Still, there was a sense of lost meaning.
Next, I called my mom. After all, who better to teach about love than the woman who’s offered it unconditionally (even through horrid tween tantrums)? Her response touched on both a platonic and transcendental level. Always religious, she answered in biblical (transcendental) terms, “To me love means patience, understanding, sacrifice (such as time), step out of your comfort zone. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
I examined my own relationships. Did I truly love anyone? What defined true?
How many answers lie within the novel? “Omega”, a love story in its own right, seems to cover all three aspects of love as I understand it. Romantically, Alessandra is paired with Adonis. It’s a passionate, pervasive love. In a transcendental and platonic sense, she’s blessed with Herakles, a god-like father-figure. Their love surpasses all time and conflict. While it’s not a definition, the novel is certainly an example for the ways in which we perceive love in all of its difficulties. Therein lies the appeal of romance novels and romantic ballads. Not a definition, but an acknowledgement of a complicated feeling or action. Something desired. Something pervasive. Perhaps, we, a curious crowd, are all contributors to its ever-changing meaning.
Care to share?
For a chance to be featured in this series, email your definition or love story to firstname.lastname@example.org.