Thursday, November 10, 2011

What is Love?

We say it all the time -- "I love you." We think it all the time. And yet, we spend our entire lifetimes trying to figure out what love is. And some of us never figure out what it is. Some of us are clueless as to what love really is, and we spend our lifetimes looking and looking for it, in constant misery and unhappiness.

Below we asked, What is this thing called “love”? And now, here are a few possible answers to the question of love --
1. "The question of love is one that cannot be evaded. Whether or not you claim to be interested in it, from the moment you are alive you are bound to be concerned with love, because love is not just something that happens to you: It is a certain special way of being alive. Love is, in fact, an intensification of life, a completeness, a fullness, a wholeness of life." -Thomas Merton
2. "Love conquers all." -Virgil
3. "One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is Love." -Sophocles
4. (a) "Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the gods." (b) "At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet." -Plato
5. "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." -Aristotle
6. "Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul." -St. Augustine
7. "A life’s worth, in the end, isn’t measured in hours, or dollars. It’s measured by the amount of love exchanged along the way." -Douglas C. Means
8. "The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you love them." -Author Unknown
9. "Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own." -Robert Heinlein
10. "True love is eternal, infinite, and always like itself. It is equal and pure, without violent demonstrations: it is seen with white hairs and is always young in the heart." -Honore de Balzac
11. "When traveling the path of life, and finding love along the way, everything looks new and different. Little do you know it is the same old landscape you used to see all of the time; Love has just given you new eyes." -Author Unknown
12. "Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring. Who, being loved, is poor?" -Oscar Wilde
13. “If you have the will to love, you already give proof that you love. What counts is the will to love.” -St. Maximilian Kolbe
14. "You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly." -Sam Keen
15. "We don't love qualities, we love persons; sometimes by reason of their defects as well as of their qualities." -Jacques Maritain
16. "You don't love a woman because she's beautiful; she is beautiful because you love her." -Author Unknown
17. "A happy man marries the girl he loves; a happier man loves the girl he marries." -Author Unknown
18. "Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all." -G.K. Chesterton
19. “We can genuinely love someone and be captivated by that person’s charm and wit, intelligence and sensitivity, unselfishness and caring —- and soon we feel a responsibility to overhaul what we think should be changed. This can tear the love relationship apart.” -Dianne Bergant
20. (a) “Falling in love is the first, and sadly for some couples the only, season of love. Often couples confuse infatuation with love. A husband might see his wife as he would like her to be —- a warm, caring person who always keeps his needs foremost in her mind. Who she truly is -— a woman who can be angry and upset with him at times -— is irrelevant.” (b) “Many couples miss the rollercoaster highs and lows of early romantic love. But as their love deepens, they will enjoy the beauty of phileo — the bond of friendship. Friendship love combines the intensity of romance with the stability of knowing a spouse is committed to learning how to appreciate you for who you are rather than what he or she thinks you should be. In this second season of love, couples begin to understand that love is a deliberate choice — not merely a feeling.” (c) “Real love involves an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. That's when agape, or sacrificial love, begins to take root.” -Gary J. Oliver
21. “So often when we say ‘I love you,’ we say it with a huge ‘I’ and a small ‘you.’” -Antony, Russian Orthodox Archbishop of England
22. “Each day I love you more; today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.” -Rosemonde Gérard
23. “Love is the magician, the enchanter, that changes worthless things to joy, and makes right royal kings and queens of common clay. It is the perfume of that wondrous flower, the heart, and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with it, earth is heaven, and we are gods.” -Robert Green Ingersoll
24. “Jump out the window if you are the object of passion. Flee it if you feel it. Passion goes, boredom remains.” -Gabrielle (“Coco”) Chanel
25. "Fear? What is there to fear in love? Love is the very reason we live. To fear love is to lose all sense of living, And if we cannot love, then why have we been put here? Fearing love is like being afraid of breathing. It's not something to be scared of. It's something so natural that no one can resist." -Tyler's speech from "A Heartbeat Away"
26. “Many people have the mistaken idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on 'being in love' forever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change -— not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last. . . . Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time." –C.S. Lewis
27. "Infatuation is when you think he's as gorgeous as Robert Redford, as pure as Solzhenitsyn, as funny as Woody Allen, as athletic as Jimmy Connors and as smart as Albert Einstein. Love is when you realize that he's as gorgeous as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Solzhenitsyn, as athletic as Albert Einstein and nothing like Robert Redford in any category — but you'll take him anyway." -Judith Voist
28. "It's not that I can't live without you, it's that I don't even want to try." -Author Unknown
29. "To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart, and to sing it to them when they have forgotten." –Author Unknown
30. First Person -- “I have to love me first before I can go out and love others. Love has to be selfish. Isn’t that supposed to be the beginning of wisdom: ‘know thyself’? Doesn’t the Bible tell me I must love my neighbor as myself?”
Second Person -- “Poppycock! That’s not love. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re all smoke and mirrors. The way you toss it around, love becomes just another four-letter word. Love is giving, not satisfying one’s self. It’s reaching out to others, feeling for them, wanting to do for them — first. Then, as a resulting boon, favoring one’s self as a sidebar.” –Author Unknown
31. “Love is an old-fashioned, contemporary-eternal virtue. All the variations, the man-made interpretations, watered-down or blown-up versions for sale on today’s market, are just fluff that the winds of eternity will blow away. Love reflects God, and God is not to be mocked.” -Alma Roberts Giordan
32. “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being 'in love' which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.” -Captain Corelli's Mandolin
33. (a) "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." (b) "True love begins when nothing is looked for in return." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
34. "Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting." -Mother Teresa
35. "Love is something eternal; the aspect may change, but not the essence." -Vincent van Gogh
36. “Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.” -- Author Unknown
37. “Love feels no burden, regards not labors, strives toward more than it attains, argues not of impossibility, since it believes that it may and can do all things. Therefore it avails for all things, and fulfils and accomplishes much where one not a lover falls and lies helpless.” -- Thomas a Kempis
38. "Love means the body, the soul, the life, the entire being. We feel love as we feel the warmth of our blood, we breathe love as we breathe air, we hold it in ourselves as we hold our thoughts. Nothing more exists for us." -Guy De Maupassant
39. (a) "Two souls with but a single thought, two hearts that beat as one." (b) "I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of everything but seeing you again. My life seems to stop there, I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I were dissolving. I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion... I have shudder'd at it... I shudder no more. I could be martyr'd for my religion: Love is my religion. I could die for that. I could die for you. My creed is love, and you are its only tenet. You have ravish'd me away by a power I cannot resist." -John Keats
40. “What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labour, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories? I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved." -George Elliot
41. "Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it...It really is worth fighting for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more." - Erica Jong
42. “Even though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear our prayer - To face life I must live altogether with you or never see you - Yes, I am resolved to be a wanderer abroad until I can fly to your arms and say that I have found my true home, and enfolded in your arms can let my soul be wafted to the realm of blessed spirits -- alas, unhappily it must be so -- You will become composed, the more so as you know that I am faithful to you; No one else can ever possess my heart - never - never - Oh God, why must one be separated from her who is so dear. . . . Your love has made me the happiest and the unhappiest of mortals . . . Be calm; for only by calm consideration of our lives can we achieve our purpose to live together - Be calm - love me - Today - yesterday - what tearful longing for you - for you - you - my life - my all - all good wishes to you. Oh continue to love me - never misjudge the most faithful heart of your lover. Ever yours, ever mine, ever ours.” –Ludwig van Beethoven
43. "To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven." -Karen Sunde
44. "Where love is, no room is too small." -The Talmud
45. "Love is not blind -- it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less." --Rabbi J. Gordon
46. (a) "The reduction of the universe to a single being, the expansion of a single being even to God, this is love." (b) “To love another person is to see the face of God.” -Victor Hugo
47. "Perfect love is rare indeed - for to be a lover will require that you continually have the subtlety of the very wise, the flexibility of the child, the sensitivity of the artist, the understanding of the philosopher, the acceptance of the saint, the tolerance of the scholar and the fortitude of the certain." -Leo Buscaglia
48. "Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit." -Peter Ustinov
49. "Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love." -Erich Fromm
50. “Every love is a giving birth, a conception that takes lover and beloved beyond themselves into an undiscovered country, a procreation. Love is always emigrant. . . . Love has no safe harbors, only interminable oceans. It must dare disturb the universe, and it will search out the expressions it needs for its work.” -David K. O’Connor
51. “The will of God is not an alien will, God’s will is not a heteronymous imposition that constricts the self, but is an invitation to the fulfillment of the self by living a life of love in response to the gift of love. Thus is eros purified and fulfilled.” -Fr. Richard John Neuhaus
52. (a) “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. / I love thee to the depth and breath and height / My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight / For the ends of Being and ideal Grace." (b) "Love doesn't make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile." -Elizabeth Barrett Browning
53. “Love does not just sit there, like a stone; it had to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” -Ursula LeGuin
54. “The market mentality has permeated even our understanding of relationships, so that we tend to think of ourselves and others as products rather than as persons. Love, then, becomes a form of ‘salesmanship.’ It is simply a matter of selling ourselves. We attempt to make ourselves as attractive as possible so that others might ‘invest’ in us. . . . More and more we are taught that we must live up to particular cultural expectations in order to earn the ‘love’ of another and be worthy of investment. . . And yet the Christian tradition provides an alternative vision. As Nouwen powerfully states, ‘everything that Jesus has done, said, and undergone is meant to show us that the love that we most long for is given to us by God not because we deserved it, but because God is a God of love.’ This is the message that we need to hear: God profoundly loves us, just as we are! Our task is to trust in that unmerited love.” -Bridget Burke Ravizza
55. “My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices. My lover speaks; he says to me, ‘Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come! For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance. Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!’” -Solomon, Song of Songs
56. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” –St. Paul
57. “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” –St. John
58. (a) "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." (b) “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.” –Jesus of Nazareth
59. "Do you love me? . . . Do you love me? . . . Do you love me? . . . Follow me." –Jesus of Nazareth
60. "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Out of the Mouths of Babes - Children's Thoughts on Love

61. "I think you're supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn't supposed to be so painful." -Manuel, age 8
62. "Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too." -Greg, age 8
63. "No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell - that's why perfume and deodorant is so popular." -Mae, age 9
64. "One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it's something she likes to eat. French fries usually works for me." -Bart, age 9
65. "Don't do things like have smelly, green sneakers. You might get attention, but attention ain't the same thing as love." -Alonzo, age 9
66. “When a person gets kissed for the first time, they fall down and they don't get up for at least an hour." -Wendy, age 8
67. "If you want to be loved by somebody who isn't already in your family, it doesn't hurt to be beautiful." -Anita, age 8
68. "I look at kissing like this: Kissing is fine if you like it, but it's a free country and nobody should be forced to do it." -Michael, age 8
69. "Don't say you love somebody and then change your mind. Love isn't like picking what movie you want to watch." -Natalie, age 9
70. "I'm not rushing into being in love. I'm finding fourth grade hard enough." -Regina, age 10


Aphrodite said...

Some people are very good at describing what love has done to them:

Lo, I have opened unto you the wide gates of my being, and like a tide, you have flowed into me.

The innermost recesses of my spirit are full of you, and all the channels of my soul are grown sweet with your presence.

For you have brought me peace, the peace of great tranquil waters and the tide of the summer sea.

Your hands are filled with peace as the noontide is filled with light; about your head is bound the eternal quiet of the stars, and in your heart dwells the calm miracle of twilight.

I am utterly content.

In my spirit is no ripple of unrest, for I have opened unto you wide the gates of my being, and like a tide, you have flowed into me.

~Author unknown~

Bender said...

Eunice Tietjens (1884-1944)

Aphrodite said...

I wonder who first uttered "I love you?"

Zeus knows, it was not I.

All of this love talk is fine fodder for debate, but it would seem best that mortal man leave it be. Love is far too powerful a thing to be trifled with.

Wars waged over it; hearts broken over it; too much kerfuffle of the human psyche.

NO! Not Psyche

Don't EVEN get me started on her...

Bender said...

I wonder who first uttered "I love you?"

Such "I love you" has been communicated for all eternity, a Love that proceeds from one and the other, from even before the beginning of time. And that Word of love continues to be uttered in perpetuity.

And that "I love you" was uttered at the very beginning of time in the form of "Let there be light."

Such love and utterances of love are not just for "the gods," but is for man as well. Indeed, man's very existence depends upon such love because love is life. It is only when man "leaves it be" that he becomes "mortal man," that is, subject to mortality -- death.

But yes, such love is a very powerful thing. Far more than a spark is needed to create man, much less create a universe. Such love needs to be a raging fire, burning with such intensity as to purify gold. It is, to be sure, not to be trifled with. Love is not a game, it is not a toy, it is not a frivolity. Love is powerfully serious, something to be respected. Treat it with disrespect and you will get burned.

Mighty (annoyed) Aphrodite said...

Such "I love you" has been communicated for all eternity, etc... you seriously think I don't know that?

This has been a rather deep and somewhat intense discussion. Trying to juxtapose what is real love, i.e. the love of God with this earthly thing which is the imperfect love of man is not exactly easy. And yes, some of us are passing through our own crucible, even as we speak.

Forgive me for trying to lighten the mood.