The Nature of Love

Written by John Iadipaolo

A young girl recently asked me what love is. She'd neverfelt it and wanted to know what it felt like so that shewould know it when she came across it.

The question then is how do you define love, classify it,describe it? Is it an emotion? If one checks the dictionarythey find that there really is no concrete definition, onlyover two dozen examples.
So I thought for a moment and replied:

Love does not exist.

When we look at happiness we have simple contentment,cheerful, joyous or even exultant. When one is sad one canmerely be down or they can be distressed, depressed or evenmorose. The all cases of emotion, be it jealousy, sadness,happiness, anger, the definition remains the same; only theintensity differs.

Why are there so many different types of love? Familiallove, Erotic Love, Platonic Love, the Love of Fellowship,the Love of Country... How is it that love can change overtime, not just in intensity but in form?

I tell you, love does not exist. It is a construct. Ifadmiration was a ribbon; if erotic desire was a ribbon; iffamiliarity and security are ribbons, then the braiding ofthese ribbons into one whole is love. Love is the bondcreated by these emotions. Further, bonds of commoninterest also form strong ribbons. What's more admirationcan be upon many levels, one can admire a person's body,their mind, their personality.

In this way love can change over time. If a love is basedentirely on erotic desire, a single ribbon, the cutting ofthis ribbon severs the tie. As a couple gets older theyoften find erotic desire and raw admiration fades but these"ribbons" though thinner are compensated by the ribbon offamiliarity and the bond remains as strong as ever it was.

The more ribbons one has, the stronger they are, thestronger the love between the pair. A love consisting ofmutual respect, admiration, erotic desire, familiarity, andcommon interests is a mighty thing indeed.

Unfortunately, as with all things, there are also equallyunhealthy ribbons and it is up to us to cut them andstrengthen other ribbons to weave a stronger bond.

Thus, I told her, "love does not exist". It is a name, aword; we apply to already existing bonds we choose toacknowledge as being "love".

--and yet... Though as logical as what I said was I cannotembrace it, cannot fully believe it. Or, if that is love,I have to wonder what it is that I have felt.

I have felt a sensation, one greater then I have everknown. I felt as if I had spent my entire life deaf,listening to music through my skin only to suddenly find myears opened to its siren song. I've experienced a singlekiss so encompassing that my own flesh could not contain myessence and I wandered outside of thought and mind andheard the sound of the cosmos as one hears the ghost soundof the sea in a conch shell.

So then my question, if love is the bond that I described,what was it that I felt then?