You are so strongly in my purpose bred
That all the world besides methinks they’re dead
– Sonnet 112
I’ve been wondering how to write about this for the longest time. And I mean the longest time. A lot of my work is tinged with love, or the lack thereof, so why haven’t I said a word on it? I talk about it and I feel it. Hopefully you can feel it when I write about it.
But what is it? What is love?
I’ve had to split this into an indefinite series; I don’t know how many posts it’ll spill over; if it’ll even spill over (it definitely will). I don’t know if I’ll reach a conclusion, but I don’t think there is a conclusion to be reached. I don’t know if it’ll be anything more than waffle, because love is simultaneously the easiest and most difficult thing to talk about.
When I think about love, an indescribable feeling washes over me; the closest I can think of being warmth, but specifically the warmth of an everlasting glow. Sometimes it can feel clinical, but I’ll come to that later.
I think of a colour that I can’t bring to fruition in my mind. The colour I’m thinking of doesn’t exist, but I can feel it. If I had to pick a colour on the known spectrum, maybe it would be a deep red. Wine red. For passion and fierce loyalty. But sometimes it’s yellow, for family and joy. For innocence. It might be white, for purity, untouched by the hues of any colour. Or black, for the endless pit of despair and heartbreak into which it can send you.
It is every shade of every colour because it lives in the crevices of everything around us; it cannot be defined by one single thing. Love is all we have left when everything else in the world disappears.
We think of love as a feeling that gives us security, of sorts. I think of comfort, and I think of safety. I think of the way I switch my diffuser on, sending the aromas of jasmine and rosewood floating around me, and my freshly bathed body sinks into a comfortable bed with brand new sheets after a long, horrible day. Love is what’s left in me after all the toxicity of life has left my mind and body.
Love is pure.
Most of all, love gives meaning to everything around me. I cannot think of life without love, nor do I want to. Love for myself, love for the people who love me. Love for the people who don’t. Love for the beauty in the world, love for nature and animals. Love for friends and family, love for the sake of love.
Love for people is perhaps the most complicated. You can love a cat who scratches you every other day, and you can love beautiful flowers that are just minding their own business. But love for people has to be requited, else it hurts. When I think of love for people, I think of loyalty and happiness and white-hot pain. I think of soul-mates and I think of familial love, I think of the absence of love. I think of romance and passion and I think of wistful sighs. I think of all the connotations love has attached to it. But what does it all boil down to? What is love at its core? Can we really define it?
Personally, I don’t think we can.
We can only use the words that currently exist in the world, across multiple languages, in an attempt to string together a sentence, a paragraph, a monologue that gives it justice. But these languages only serve to point to how we feel in a way that is universally understood; how can we truly define something so subjective in a language that is shared by everyone? Language has limits, feelings do not.
That’s why we attempt to understand love in relation to other things.
Love is the smile on her face, beaming with joy as she runs up to your arms and makes you feel like you’re the most important man in the world. Love is when they excitedly ask you to come and look at what they made at school, and if you, specifically, want to come and watch their school play because they’re in it; it’s the way your heart swells with pride when you see them standing there, dressed up as a tree. Love is when you come home from work and they’re there, waiting for you with a meal and lit candles just because they want you to relax. Love is when your top lip quivers as your heart shatters into a million pieces and the pain shoots a hole in your chest that makes you lose your breath almost entirely.
Love is the way you trace your fingers along his sleeping face and your chest collapses into itself as you transcend into a state of total, innocent euphoria: this is home.
Love is how we perceive it and understand it through the scenarios that make us feel happy. Love is how. Love is when. Love feels like, love looks like and smells like. But it’s more than that. Behind the context, there is something pure and unadulterated.
Love exists beyond all comprehension; it is impossible to articulate because we don’t know how to.
But I’m going to try.