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Love Defined

Love. One of the most overemphasized, excessively discussed emotions to come that mankind has conceptualized since our inception on this earth. Though it’s been expounded upon, deliberated endlessly, defined by numerous synonyms, it still tends to evade most people’s perception in its entirety. Honestly, in many cases, the word love has become an overarching idea and a concept that has been inserted as a placeholder for other emotions, feelings, or actions.

Many times love is associated with words like commitment, loyalty, lust. I will circle back to these notions shortly. For now, let’s really explore “what is love” and how we experience it. Though we all have different journeys in life, all of us are born into this world through the same process of conception. At the root of this conception were the foundations of emotions, feelings, and/or actions, that were initiated and felt by our parents. Put aside the ethereal elements that may have corresponded with the timing of our birth, the source of our birth coincided with the “love” that existed between a man and a woman. Whether or not we are aware of it, at the end all of us are trying to return home to the love that brought us into this world. So let me discuss love within this context and lay out the various ways love forms and informs our perspective of our world.

A Mother’s love; A Father’s love:

Conception. The one tricky subject that parents have labored to explain to their children and others for centuries. Even when the message comes across in words it has numerous interpretations, deliveries and modalities. Eventually though, we grow from children to adults and eventually understand the essence of love and love making that was behind our conception.  Many can say that, “…it’s just nature”. I certainly agree when making my own assessments. But the underlying theme here is that love was present before we were even thought of. Whether it had a part to play in our lives great or small, love was the source of our conception.

Possessive love:

In our infancy, we find ourselves having a closeness to the things that are always around us as small children: a favorite toy, a favorite place, or favorite music, anything in which we find pleasurable. Then for some unforeseen reason, those things which find pleasure seem to lose value to us over time, maybe over concern or lack thereof. We begin to explore more than we had before and other objects come into the sphere of our attention. This is when we start chasing love and in the process a void is placed in hearts as we try to love and be loved by others.

“Puppy” love:

After some years pass, we eventually find ourselves imitating what we see those who are older than us are doing. Things seem right, from our limited perspectives. All seems to work together as they should, the puzzle slowly starts to come together for us in our minds. They say “opposites attract,” “you can’t help who you love,” cliche terms which have been around for ages. But is it love that we’re experiencing? Has this emotion supposedly walked with us into adolescence? The one you find yourself paying the most attention to, or thinking about more often, becomes our first blush with love. Making time for one person than you would for others, the source of our affection ends up getting all our our attention. These are stories very familiar to many people.

Love for Friends:

As we grow, this word “love,” comes up again and it seems that we share it with our family members–especially our parents, grandparents, and siblings with those we call our friends. We see ourselves with this ever-evolving emotion; feelings of love finding its way into our lives with those we to choose to associate with. These special people who have a place in our lives that we interpret in many ways, depending on our situation or station in life at a particular moment. Love becomes utilitarian in a way; we use it as we see fit and apply it differently to different circumstances and people. Loves keeps evolving from a static emotion we once felt for our parents to a dynamic emotion that has many facets. We are left asking “what is love?”

Foundation love:

Thus we return to the reason why the overarching word of “love” seemingly has replaced words like commitment, loyalty, lust and the endless ways we associate virtuous emotions. Have you noticed how “love” has been molded to fit different objectives? Whether to our benefit or our dismay, we’ve taken this word love for granted without actually inspecting the emotions that reside within it. Why aren’t we more discerning about who we say “I love you” to and who we express love to?

Why does “love” find itself being bent into shapes of many molds to fit whatever purpose someone may deem adequate? “Love” was here before we were even thought so why are we not more deliberate with how we express it? Has the chase for love abrogated the meaning of love from our hearts? I can guarantee you that love will be here long after we’re gone. Be wise about love and expressing it, be kind but be careful who you hand your heart to. Love is precious. It’s not an object to be used and thrown away nor can love be found easily if we discard it too often. Through it all, no matter our experience with love, just know love is not the problem, it is the lack of it that is at the root of society’s ills and our individual struggles. In the end, be patient for wisdom comes with time–we are all still trying to figure out this thing called love.

Sometimes the journey is still more interesting that the destination.

Yohannes Amanuel

Yohannes Amanuel

Yohannes is a prolific writer who has written extensively about the cross section of Ethiopia within the context of the Ethiopian-American experience. More of his work can be found at the Rastafarian Renaissance website.
Yohannes Amanuel

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