Posted: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 1:40:45 AM
Disclaimer: I, being relatively young and otherwise occupied in my semi-adult life, have never been in love. I have, however, read a lot of books, watched a lot of TV, and spent more than a lot of time on the Internet, and if truth cannot be found in these media it can’t be found at all. I have seen many a wondrous thing in these artificial worlds, O reader, and now, as an impartial but curious observer, I declare: I have no idea what love is.
Well, that's not entirely true. If anything, I have too many ideas. Love is extraordinarily complex, especially bewildering considering how commonly and casually it’s used. It doesn’t have the purity of "infinity" or the distance of "cosmos"; it is present, ubiquitous, and immensely powerful in our everyday lives, and yet beyond those generalizations no one seems to agree on something as simple as a sentence. Love is a battlefield, a flower, a journey, a flame, a razor, an ocean, a loaded gun. “To love another person is to see the face of God” (Victor Hugo), “To love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love,” (Woody Allen), “Love is candy from a stranger, but it's candy you've had before and it probably won't kill you” (Daniel Handler).
What is it then? Is love an umbrella, encompassing many emotions similar enough to be considered one? Is love a gemstone, with different facets turning under the light, different for everyone who perceives it? Or is love a divine entity, incomprehensible by human means, meddling in our affairs for mysterious and inexplicable ends? (And am I just adding to the confusion with all these extra metaphors?) How can we talk about love so carelessly when we don’t understand it at all, when this fundamental aspect of ourselves has all but lost its meaning in this anarchy of definitions?
If you ask me, reader, I would say that none of it matters. It doesn't matter what love really is or how we define it, in the end. Let it be all these things and more, because despite all this confusion and complexity, people know when and what they love. And, most tellingly, when someone uses the word “love” they are understood, and they agree that everything else describes it just as well. I believe that some things can transcend knowledge and language, and if anything can accomplish that feat, Love, the concept, the emotion, certainly can. We, employers of the English language at the very least, have proven it.
But since that's admittedly a cop-out, I'll leave you with one more meaning of love, mine. Love connects us all. Person to person, person to cause, creator to audience, fan to fellow fan. Love, and our shared experience of it, is the glue that binds us, humanity, to each other and to all else we come in contact with. (And that’s the last metaphor, I promise.)