We experience life through the lens of both our senses and our feelings. Though, we don’t always understand what’s happening in our lives as we live them. It’s usually in retrospect, say when writing on a journal or talking to someone, that we translate into words what goes through our minds. Often, we get a clearer picture of those thoughts when doing so-that’s probably why we feel emotionally rewarded after venting our concerns with a good friend.
Thing is, there are limits to verbal communication. Language is social. We assign words to all sorts of concepts-they serve as shorthands for more complex ideas. And we use references and context to make sense of these definitions; I’d probably struggle to describe the taste of Pepsi without mentioning Coke.
Luckily for us, there’s a plethora of words we can choose from. Some, more common than others; some, borrowed from other languages; some, we make up as we speak. Chances are, more people in the West would relate when talking about “water” than “ schadenfreude.” But what about “love”?
On the surface, the four-letter word sounds familiar. We’ve heard about it, read about it, and probably even used it to label a feeling we once experienced. Though, when attempting to build a compelling definition for it, we come up short.
So, is love always mutual? is it correlated to jealousy, anxiety, and desire? is it meant to be experienced exclusively with one person per lifetime?
We will never fully grasp what love is just by listening to what others have to say about it. We will never know if someone will ever experience love the way we do. We will never be in love the same way twice.
You can love your significant other, of course, but also your mother, your pet hedgehog, and even the strangers you encounter in your daily commute.
I’ve gradually come to accept love as it is-to appreciate it without the expectations our culture has built around it. And I’m grateful for that. Now, it’s easier for me to spread love among those around and to allow myself to be loved in countless unique ways. Life is more enjoyable since.
Love is like a color outside the visible spectrum, indescribable to those who haven’t seen it before. It could take the shape of a mindset or a lifestyle. It is, like any other emotion, personal and subjective.
We just know when we feel it.
What does love look like to you?