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The Indefinable Thing Called Love

May 8, 2017

          Love is an interesting concept. And although not easily defined, it is undeniably the most powerful force in the world.

          Since the beginning of time, humans have given their lives in battle for love of their country. They have followed their leaders, often blindly, to ensure their king/queen/emperor/czar/dictator/tribal chief/president was victorious.

          It is widely believed that God loved his Earthly beings so much that he was willing to demand the ultimate sacrifice of his own beloved son. Powerful stuff.

          Honor, the determination to do the right thing, even–or especially–when it’s not in one’s best interests, is one of the most interesting kinds of love. It is usually powered simply by a belief that upholding an ideal is greater than self-interest.

          Romantic love is usually the first kind that comes to mind. This attachment can create a unity that can bind a couple for a lifetime. So powerful is the feeling, that the inability for two who love each other to be together can have dire consequences. We all know the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet.

          The love a parent has for a child is said to be matched by no other kind. A parent stepping in front of the proverbial bus to save their child is completely logical. However, even complete strangers have countless times risked their own lives to save others’ children. And, sadly, the news reminds us daily that not all parents truly love their children as they should - if at all.

          Friendship is a peculiar kind of love. It’s devoid of romantic or sexual attraction. There is no genetic bond or idealism. Where there may be a certain amount of honor involved, it is based purely on the caring of another individual. Friends provide companionship and support. It’s a love that can also demand greater sacrifices, including the keeping of life-shattering secrets.

           In America, the love and care we bestow on our pets mystifies many, and for some goes beyond reason. We spend thousands of dollars (forget insurance) on an operation for a dog or cat that may only have a couple of years left to live. However, being an obsessive dog-parent, that love seems perfectly logical to me.

           Animals, like humans, will fight to the death to protect those they love – their offspring or their humans. For example, dogs have also been notoriously, fiercely protective of humans, as well as their pups.

           However, emotional sacrifice is, I believe, the truest form of love. Whether it’s letting someone go to pursue their dreams, although it breaks your heart to watch them walk away, or keeping a child from one’s abusive spouse, or having to put down your pain-ridden loyal canine companion, it’s a cruel, demanding love.

          Then there are the parents who show the ultimate love for their child when faced with the reality that they cannot care for them, to have them adopted by a loving couple who can. And, then of course there is the child who, in turn, must make the loving decision to stop life support for the parent who has spent a lifetime loving them.

          Clearly, love has no real definition.

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