“Love is like a baby: it needs to be treated tenderly.” – Congolese proverb
Come Sunday, the world will be in a frenzy as we celebrate love. The notion of love is one of the most cherished ideals of life. From the first humans to our present generation, the colourfulness with which love has been perceived and defined reveals how much we all long to be loved and to love others. Love, unlike any other ideal or passion, from the moment of its inception inspires a vivid compulsion of special feelings that we desire to cherish and hold for a long time, if not forever.
We may not all agree with exactness what love is, but in almost all situations our use of the word ‘love’ expresses the presence of a strong attraction or attachment to an animate or inanimate object. For example, we say “I love my spouse” to express how valuable he or she is to us. There is a sense of treasuring in such expressions. And when we treasure a person, we spend time with him or her in order to enjoy their company and/or take care of them. Those treasuring moments inspired Robert Frost, the American poet, to proclaim that “love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired”.
Love is a complex and at the same time flexible notion. Its complexity stems from the fact that primarily all of us can and do experience love, but individually we experience it differently based on our unique and/or present needs and aspirations. While the flexibility of love is captured in the way we interpret our understanding of it, the interpretations are so varied they inspired the ancient Greek philosophers to conclude that love manifests itself in seven states. From self-love to unconditional or divine love, and so forth.
These diverse experiences of love make it a superior emotion. It is one that invokes in us a natural and wonderfully pleasant feeling that fills us with goodness and a positivity about life. It lifts us past our normalness onto an exhilarative plain that jolts us out of our dogmatism and limitations.
In love, our awareness of life expands and becomes sharpened – and we seek to know. We want to know everything about our partners; their innate, uncompromised selves. We want to know for the simple reason of knowing. The knowledge of each other enriches the relationship. It blends the boundaries between partners and affords them the opportunity to see fewer distinctions between themselves. And to top it all, it allows lovers to share in each other’s life without feeling like strangers. It is probably the reason our forefathers illustrated loving as ‘knowing’.
The concept of knowing as love may not be popular in our age – but in all honesty, knowing and being known is what keeps individuals lively and unpretentious in each other’s company. Lovers must not only have knowledge of their individuality, but also must have knowledge of their partners. They must know each other without the masks and costumes that we consciously wear when we come out to play. Without intense knowledge of each other, we reduce love to a bag of feelings which produce moods we cannot control. Love is not a raging fire on a rampant trail; it is more profound if we treat it tenderly.
Being in love is like having a cool drink of water on a hot day. It not only quenches the thirst, but also feels extraordinarily good. Like the gushing of a strong wind, yet quieter than the sound of passing tiptoes, love resides in our interactions and connections. It unfolds and reverberates between and among all people, yet it strangely magnetises us to particular individuals. The attraction melts and recreates us, literally changing our attitudes and world-views. Many individuals have turned into poets and songsters in their bid to express their love for others.
No passion burns longer and deeper than love. Whether we are ‘falling-in-love’ or ‘being-in-love, our recollection of it fills us with joy or sorrow. In seeking an explanation for this legitimate feeling, we have to turn to the illustration of love as knowing. When we know each other, it relaxes us and we become more permeable. We become connected to each other. We merge our lives into each other’s; and we open up ourselves wholeheartedly and allow others to really see us like an x-ray machines sees our bones through a mass of flesh and muscles. This sense of knowing endears lovers so they enjoy seeing each other. It makes their presence a lovable company that loves in return.
Love invokes a phenomenon that ordains that we are special. It is a transcendence that makes one feel part of something far larger than one’s self. The evolution stems from the quantum of knowledge that our partners have about us. The degree of ‘love-ness’ is related to how well he or she knows you. When we know people, we are confident of what they like and how they will behave in most situations; and this propagates the idea that ‘he is mine’ and ‘she is mine’. Knowing we are loved endows us with innate satisfactions which make us more lovable and appreciative of life. Let us therefore open ourselves up to love, and love more often and deeply so that we may become the essence of love.
Kodwo Brumpon is an author, a life coach and a philanthropist who inspires individuals, groups and organisations to think and feel that which is true, by helping them to positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions.
Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]