Love’s such a big broad word these days that you can easily smack someone in the head with it.
After all, some people LOVE hamburgers.
What’s the point of trying to define a word that, some would say (not necessarily I), has been defaced by use?
A word that means everything and nothing at the same time?
But you see, I come across this word, “love,” even in mindfulness books written by monks.
Maybe it’s a word that everyone can use to suit their purpose.
Defining love as a theological concept would take time and to be honest with you, I’d rather play with Beethoven.
I’m going to focus only on one use of the word.
So, what does it mean to love someone?
To want that other person close to you?
For them to pay attention to you?
To want to have sex with them?
To want to spend the rest of your life with them?
To have babies with them?
Many times in my life I thought I was in love.
That I had met a special person—special not necessarily in an outward way, but special for me because she saw things in me that others did not see.
But now, when I’m on the farther side of my 20s, I begin to have my doubts.
Yes, I did love, but maybe not so much.
Maybe I loved only once or twice or three times at most.
Maybe the rest were only attempts at love or much less noble than that.
Does loving someone mean the opposite of loneliness?
Understanding and trust?
Patience and kindness?
I’m still not sure I’ve got the definition right.
Because it’s a definition that changes as we do.
If I’d have to venture a definition, though,
I’d say that to love means to care at least as much about someone else
as you care about yourself.
Or to put it in another way,
To love is not to drink all the water yourself when you’re thirsty
but to want to give the water to that other person to drink first
because you care enough about them to know that they are thirsty too.
It’s not only kindness, and it’s not entirely selfless, of course.
If that other person’s going to drink the water before you do,
you’ll feel good about having passed it on.
But there’s a consideration in love that makes all the difference.
Most of the things we do in life we do for ourselves.
Love is a lesson we’ve learned in our mother’s womb,
and when we were babies and helpless.
But it’s a lesson we tend to forget by adolescence.
And then it’s easy to confuse it for other things.
I hope I’ll get better at love as time goes on.
I hope I’ll be passing that water flask
without dying of thirst.