Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The Meaning of Love
Romance writers – that’s what we are, what we call ourselves. I looked around the room during the luncheon last Saturday, at the readers and the writers, and a thought struck me. All these people are here because they like reading and writing romance novels. And what is at the root of all those novels? LOVE. But how do we define love? What is it? What does it mean to all of us? What causes humans to lose all sanity and all reason to find that emotion? WHAT IS LOVE?
According to Webster’s Dictionary, love, when used as a noun, is (1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties – a mother’s love (2) attraction based on sexual desire – affection and tenderness felt by lovers. When love is used as a verb it is defined as (1) to hold dear as in cherish (2) to feel a lover’s passion, devotion or tenderness for. But what does all that mean? How do we, as writers, convey what love is between the heroine and the hero? How do we tell the reader those thoughts so that she/he can understand the romance, the feelings, the overall need to be with that one human being which will make the characters complete? We struggle to write down those feelings and let the reader know that these two people are meant for each other, through all adversity and conflict. But what does it truly mean when they say “I love you” ?
The thought intrigued me. I think that the feelings and yearnings behind the emotion are intangible passions which are felt differently by different people. That is what makes love. Aristotle captured the true definition, for me, in one sentence: Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. The Ying and the Yang of each other. Without one the other is incomplete. The irresistible need exists in both people to be with the other, to fulfill each other and become one soul. So there you have it, my definition of love. But how do we write that? How do we convey that compulsion and explain it to our readers? It is a hard process.
In my search for the definition of love, I looked at many quotes, trying to find meaning in other people’s words. How did they define it? Here are a few which spoke to me:
When you love a man, he becomes more than a body. His physical limbs expand, and his outline recedes, vanishes. He is rich and sweet and right. He is part of the world, the atmosphere, the blue sky and the blue water. - Gwendolyn Brooks
For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul. – Judy Garland
Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. – Robert Frost
I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out. – Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
And the one that I think captures the essence of love –
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
So how do you define love? What do you think makes you love one person and not another? Do you think it’s as Aristotle says, the unification of one soul split between two people? Tell me your thoughts on what defines LOVE.