The Meaning of Love
Love: /noun/ an intense feeling of deep affection.
We all have some idea about what “love” is. But the word is no more than a symbol, a
miserly surrogate for a deeply felt experience. Much like the word “red,” we have no way to be certain that "my experience of the color is identical to yours." We simply trust that the word is a suitable, mostly uniform, token. But “red” has something that “love” seems to lack. “Red” has “ruby,” “scarlet,” "crimson," “burgundy,” “maroon,” “brick,” and so forth. But we seem to fold all the hues of “love” into a single symbol. One might wonder, if we could disentangle the many shades of love, should we? I think we should.
Universal Love. Yellow. Love thy neighbor. Love thy fellow man. This is the sort of love of which we hear the saints and sages speak. This love represents a deep commitment, a binding oath to harbor goodwill for all things. We extend this love to strangers, to friend and foe alike, to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the Earth. This love is universal, unconditional, and completely selfless.
Biological Love. Orange. The love we feel for our children, our parents, our family, our kin. We do not choose this love, rather it is delt to us by the hand of fate. The love between parent and child is an evolutionary mainstay, the shroud that protects us as we grow from helpless infants to independent adults. It armors us in protection, belonging, and meaning. We love our siblings, relatives, and kinsman, for without them, we’d face the winter alone. Though profoundly useful, its necessity should not degrade its potency. We truly do love our kin, for we hold them in our hearts, we protect them, and we serve them to the best of our abilities.
Romantic Love. Red. This love is fire, that raging inferno that consumes us. This is the passion that burns uncontrollably, that fuels our cravings, that leaves us scorched and gasping for air. It is the raw desire we see in our lovers' eyes, that need for one another, that thirst that cannot be slaked. It is temptation, ferocity, jealousy, and fear. But like all fires, this blaze eventually recoils, until all that remains is the smoldering glow of its embers. When it enraptures us we are blinded, as though staring into the sun and we can see nothing else. Usually, we mistake its great splendor for something deeper. For this love, ultimately, is a trick. It satisfies that need to be wanted, to be touched, a potent drug that yields pure bliss for as long as we're on it. But when we sober up, perhaps after years, perhaps after children, we realize that the fire has dwindled; and we either find solace in other things, or seek to rekindle the flames anew.
Spiritual Love. White. This love is magic. This love is effortless. There is no game to be played, no campaign to be waged, for the victory is already won. Perhaps you believe in souls, perhaps you don't. It's irrelevant. "Soul," too, is just a symbol. It symbolizes that which evades the scrutiny of our methodical rationality. It symbolizes the purpose that we didn't know we had, the lessons we didn't realize we were destined to learn. This love is a single moment that outlives eternity. It is a playful transaction between souls, a contract, signed on our behalf, by forces we cannot see. It is the vow you never made, but will always keep. It is a profound sense of knowing, that extends beyond knowledge. But despite its gravity, it is light as a feather.
These are love.