‘Tis the stuff of myths – true love’s kiss cures all ills, and bride and groom, knight and damsel, prince and princess, king and queen, Buttercup and Wesley waltz off into the sunset never to be heard from again because they are busy living a perfectly harmonious life.
Does this kind of thing exist in society today? Can LOVE be defined simply? Or does love mean something different to everyone? Or is what we think love really lust in disguise?
I love my children, but the love I feel for them is different from a romantic love. I would lay down my life, slay many dragons, go to the ends of the earth and back again for my children. I know their every breath, their every sound, their every worry. I know what they think, and why. I am the centre of their universe. How can any man ever compete with that, am I setting myself up for failure in thinking that I can have the filial love from the kids and romantic love from future husband? Or can I really have it all?
Growing up I only had to look to my grandparents for inspiration – I believe that even though they were married more than 50 years, every time my grandfather looked at my grandmother he saw her as the 17 year old that he married. There was a special softness in his gaze when he spoke to her. He taught me about chivalry, which is something I appreciate. But more than that, they both showed me how devoted they were to each other, a devotion that had to have been based on love.
On my quest for answers I asked many people what their thoughts about love were, and the answers were varied and very interesting.
I had many answers that there is no such thing as true love, that it is just lust, and will fade with time to contentment. I would like to think that there is more to it than that, but I do agree that initial attraction can sometimes be mistaken as love, where all it is is really chemistry and infatuation.
Some people were brutally honest, that they had never found true love, but either hoped it exists out there, or wonder whether it is just a myth, a fabrication of society.
Here is a sampling of their comments:
Shtetl Fabulous had this to say
“I think “true love” as a construct is very dangerous. It might exist, it might not. But believing in it and expecting it can often make people unhappy and dissatisfied with their relationships. Some people are lucky enough to experience true, mutual love instantaneously, but more often than not, the love that is most true develops over time and is forged by trials/obstacles overcome. When people run themselves ragged looking for true love in the fairy tale sense in relationship after relationship, or they reject potential partners because of some unrealistic ideal, they essentially defeat what true love really is.”
My girlfriend C had this to say
“Love is the most wonderful and yet the most painful force known to (wo)man. It’s almost like a drug – and can influence you to do the craziest things. But being in love with someone, and having that love returned, even for 5mins of your life, well, that kinda makes all the sh*t worth while.”
This, from M
“I’m not convinced that true romantic love (like in the movies) exists. I think that 2 people can feel a connection – and it can be instantaneous – and that, if accompanied by attraction, can make people feel like it’s true romantic love, but I think that that feeling is usually fleeting… that is, no one can maintain it forever.
I think that we’re set up, in society, to expect that feeling to last forever, and when a relationship’s fire begins to turn into smoldering embers, people panic and oftentimes don’t ride it out and wait for the next gust of wind to blow it back into raging flames… Love, to me, means that you have the stamina to ride your way through the fire just being embers now and again. I think that every love relationship has ebbs and flows. There are times when, while we still love our partner, we don’t feel especially fond of them and that’s okay. Let me see if this makes any sense to you… I love [my husband] so much that I’m incredibly happy that he has someone in his life that loves him the way he deserves to be loved.
Love? in a nutshell? Simply: the inability to imagine living your life without that person in it”|
This, from my buddy C:
“I think that true love does exist, but like everything else, love changes with age. Romantic love is an ideal but I guess that life takes over and it is very difficult to maintain. What is romance and how do you separate it from lust?”
My girl Z told me:
“I believe that true love is based on three things:
2. common goals and values
Someone once told me that marriage isn’t 50/50. Some days it’s 20/80 on your part and sometimes the other way around. “
And this from my girlfriend who just got married and is blissfully happy:
“Until I met [my husband] I would have said that this type of [love] only happens in the movies…but I am here to say that it does exist. It may not be that starry-eyed fairy tale romantic stuff 24 hours a day/7 days a week but I must admit that I wake up every day and I am still so giddy in love and there are often times during the day when I look at him and I feel like a high school teenager mad with puppy love. It’s been two years since [we met] so I don’t think of this as the lovey dovey feeling you get when you are in a new relationship – because it really feels like it only gets better every day as we get to share more and more with each other and seem to fall more and more in love with each other. Don’t give up…it’s out there for you too :)”
I was sent an email that really touched me, and it had something to do with today’s theme.
It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s, arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.
On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.
I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for awhile and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.
I was surprised, and asked him, “And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?” He smiled as he patted my hand and said, “She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.”
I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, “That is the kind of love I want in my life.” True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be. The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.
I believe that said it all.
The Talmud (Tractate Derech Eretz Zuta) tells us “If you want to bond yourself to loving your friend, give to him for his benefit.” The Hebrew word for “love” (ahav) is rooted in the word “to give” (hav). This Talmudic statement teaches that genuine love comes only after giving. Which basically says that love comes only after time spent together. That love at first sight isn’t really something that the Talmud believed in.
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler had this to say “A person loves the fruits of his efforts, as he feels that he has imparted his essence to it. Whether it is a son he has brought up, an animal he has raised, a plant he has nurtured, or even a house he has built, he feels bound with love to the results of his labour. In it, he sees himself.” (Michtav Me-Eliyahu)
So in essence, the more we give, the more we love. When we give of ourselves, its our self love that enables us to do so. VeAhavta LeRayacha Kamocha – and you should love your friend the way you love yourself.
In conclusion, I would like to posit that I do believe in true love, I do believe it exists, I believe that we have soulmates who touch us deeper than could be thought possible. Love does not conquer all, and even if you are in love, you still need to work at your relationship every single day. I believe wholeheartedly that there is a special someone out there for me, who will not have to compete with the kids for my love, because they each will have their own special place in my life. But perhaps what I perceive as true love, today, as opposed to what I saw as true love when I was 20, is different. It has been molded by my life experience. It’s not all violins, hearts and flowers. It’s quiet moments of simple contentment, just being in each other’s company, a small gesture that shows so much, a card, an email, just because.
I hope you feel free to comment on this – I am very interested in all you have to say.