"Love your neighbor as you love yourself.... There is no greater love than this, that a person lays down their life for their friends." Suspend, for a moment at least, any predisposition toward or against religion. That's not what I am talking about. Sure, the quotations above are found in the Bible, but love is found in the religious and the least holy. Love is found between brothers, spouses, and in the harlots and gangbangers. What is it? One thing is certain, it brings with it a suitcase of emotions that springs open at the most inopportune time and scatters its contents across the busy concourse of our lives so that passing strangers can glimpse our hearts and our heartaches as if they were our underwear scattered on the airport floor.
That's right. I allude to the belief that love is not an emotion. It definitely causes emotion, but love is an act. I may hit you. I may hug you. I may speak to you. I may love you. Each of these things is an act, something that is done. Each of these acts may cause any one of a host of emotions. I can teach someone how to shake hands, how to hug, how to hit, how to ride a bike, and (yes) how to love. No matter how I try, though, I cannot teach them to be happy or sad, or angry, or depressed. I may cause them to feel these things, thereby giving them experience, but emotions are from the heart. Love is from the mind.
What?! You've got to be kidding me. Nope. Seriously. Think about it. Many of the things we do we do for self-preservation. We cover up mistakes. We make excuses. We go to the tanning bed. We weasel our way into someone's bed to fulfill a desire. We buy a new outfit. We look out for ourselves. We do these things because our mind long ago accepted as fact the basic premise that, for lack of a better way to put it, we deserve to be happy. Accepting that as fact, we act (DO things) accordingly. Emotions come and go. No matter what our emotions are, we more often than not still do the things we do in order to look out for number one.
What's love got to do with it? Easy. Regardless of the emotions we may feel, if we truly are to love someone, we must accept as fact that WE ARE GOING TO LOVE THEM. Period. We must accept with all our mind (and heart) that we will love them. Then, everything we do will flow from that love, will be because of that love. In return, we will begin to learn how to love another as we love ourself. We also will learn how to express the greatest love. No, this doesn't necessarily require physical death. To lay down your life for another, simply forsake your desires, your selfishness, your time, your money, your words, your kindness... for another. Only then will we begin to know the unexplainable, undeniable beauty of real love.
Oh, well... love thoughts on a loveless day. I am romantic to a fault. I am kind (usually). I can shower someone with attention, flowers, poems, compliments, and so on. I am learning, though, that true love has eluded me for one simple reason: I treated it as an emotion. As a result, it has always come and gone. I resolve to love another this year. The who, the when... later. For now, I recognize that I have been loved more than I ever thought possible. I didn't even recognize it. I was seeking the emotional combination that would unlock my own little locked heart. If only I had done love, had laid down my life, my insecurities, my selfishenss - even for a moment. I have let people down as much as I have lifted them - maybe more so. In this world of soundbites, Hollywood-style love matches, things and people to lust after all around... the world sees love as a vast landscape of frost-capped sea and icebergs. This landscape is beautiful, but white and gray as far as the eye can see. Love is the needle in the haystack. Love is the red iceberg that shocks the senses, opens the mind, pales the world around it. Pack a good suitcase. The flight's being called.