Segmented Essay: On Love

Love

By Dave Hood

What is love? According to Webster’s dictionary, love has several definitions: First, love is a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, such as maternal love for a child. Love can also be affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests, such as love for an old schoolmate. Secondly, love is a warm attachment, feeling of enthusiasm, or acts of devotion. For instance, a man might say, “I’d do anything for her.”Thirdly, love is attraction based on sexual desire, such as affection and tenderness felt by lovers. Finally, love can be expressed as objects of attachment, such as “I love my book collection.”

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In psychology, love is defined as a human need, like food, water, shelter, sleep.

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For many, love is like a drug. It makes us high. That is why so many people are addicted to love.

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In Greek mythology, Eros is the Greek God of love—the uniting power of love.

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For many, love is the ultimate positive emotion of joy. Though love provides pleasure, it can also result in torment, even grief.

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Love is one of the most profound human emotions.

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Love can be a digger plunged into the heart or a life time gift of friendship, love, companionship.

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Love is a thirst. It is hunger. It is a craving.

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When we fall in love, the brain releases various chemicals, such as serotonin, which makes us high with pleasure. When we fall out of love, the brain fails us, often resulting in a feeling of loss, grief, hopelessness, depression.

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According to positive psychologists, we require love of a significant other to make us happy. Without love, we wither like a red rose without sunshine and water.

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When you love another, you open yourself up to be hurt. You become vulnerable.

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According to psychologist, Elaine Hatfield, there are two types of love: compassionate love and passionate love. Passion is a strong sexual attraction and desire to have sex. Compassion is to understand how another feels and desire to end the suffering.

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According to psychologist, Robert Sternberg, (Author of the “Triangular Theory of Love) love has three components: intimacy, passion, commitment. Sternberg suggests that there are many combinations of love. For instance, love can be high on commitment, low on intimacy. Or high on passion, low on commitment. High on intimacy and commitment, low on passion. He tells us that the best love includes emotional intimacy, sexual desire, and a commitment to endure the setbacks and hardships of the relationship.

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Expert, Gary Chapman, author of the “Five Love Languages,” identifies the language of love. He tells us that love has a language. This love language is expressed in five ways:
1. Expressing words of affirmation to your significant other. For instance, you might say, ” I love you.”
2. Spending quality time together, such as taking in a movie with your partner, going on a date with your partner, playing golf together, taking a trip with your partner to some exotic destination.
3. Engaging in acts of service for your partner , such as cleaning the house for your partner, cooking your partner a meal, do the grocery shopping…
4. Providing physical touch to your partner. Examples include: Kissing, hugging, holding hands, cuddling, having sex.
5. Expressing your love with a gift. This can be time, energy, thoughtfulness, and object of desire, such as jewelry or big screen television.

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Women tend to fall in love with men who have wealth, power, and status. Men tend to fall in love with physically attractive women. I’ve seen many older men marry younger women who are “trophy wives.”

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Why do we seek love? Orson Wells said, “We are born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” For many, the ultimate purpose in life is to find a soul mate or kindred spirit. If you’re lucky, you meet and marry your soul mate.

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We often fall in love when we least expect it, usually by luck, like finding a twenty dollar bill in the sand on the beach. Search for love, and you rarely find it. I met every woman I loved by accident. I met my first girlfriend on vacation, the second at a dance while seeking the attention of another woman, my former wife at a bar when I was watching the hockey game.

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Many people are now using Internet dating to find love. In fact, it’s now one of the popular ways to find a match.

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Thirty years ago, I knew a man who met his wife in the want ad section of the newspaper. They’re still married.

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How does it feel to fall in love? Singer of soul, Roberta Flack, sang these words about love in “First Time I Ever Saw Your Face:”

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies, my love
To the dark and the endless skies

And the first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hands
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love
That was there at my command, my love

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time, my love
And it will last till the end of time, my love

The first time ever I saw your face, your face
Your face, your face

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Love is an important theme in pop culture. There are movies, such as “The Notebook.” There are songs about love, like The Beatles “Something.” There is art about love. The question is always: How does a contemporary work of art tell the truth about love? There are books about love. For instance, when I rode the subway and buses a few years ago, most women were reading “chic lit” novels. There is a poetry about love.

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Pablo Neruda, a well-known poet, wrote about love in his poem “If You Forget Me:”

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

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Western culture, particularly Hollywood, has created the notion of “romantic love.” Love is idealized. The message is “fall in love and you will live happily ever after.”

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Many Eastern cultures discard the idea of “romantic love.” They prefer the arranged marriage. In this sort of marriage, the parents determine who their children can marry. Frequently, these marriages are a success, in the sense that the divorce rate is low. Why is this so?

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There are many other types of love besides romantic love. There is love of a pet, love of a friend, love of children, love of parents and grandparents, love of work, love of art, love of country…….

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What does religion say to us about love? The bible tells us to love our enemies. We can loathe the action, but we ought to love the person. The Buddhist teachings suggest that we must show loving kindness to everyone, friend and foe. Otherwise, we will be punished with negative karma. Based on the statistics, most people are not following the advice of religion.

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When you’re a young, you believe that love will endure, until the children come along, until your husband loses his job, until your wife becomes an alcoholic…. I know a woman who left her husband after he was unemployed for a year. She had to pay him support payments. I know another woman with a 1 year old toddler who left her starving artist husband for a guy whose family had lots of money. Real love stands the test of time, enduring hardship, disappointments, setbacks.

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Life can be lonely without love. Most people, who have no significant other, live lives of quiet desperation.

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I know many people who believe that love is passion. When the passion dissolves, the love is gone, and so they move on, never finding true love.

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Love is not sexual abuse, nor is it physical abuse, nor is it verbal abuse, nor is it indifference.

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Many people worship their careers, at the expense of love, such as their the marriage and children.

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Love that does not reciprocate will torment the other person. I know a woman who divorced her husband because he was always working. He’d work long hours, always be traveling. At home, he’d always be on the computer, finishing a project. When she desire to be intimate, he was too tired for sex.

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I’ve learned that different personality types make love complicated. For instance, some people are emotional, screaming when they become frustrated. Others, when they are frustrated, become quiet and moody and withdrawn. How do you deal with conflict when one person screams and the other person retreats whenever there is conflict in the relationship?

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In Canada, more than 50% of marriages end in divorce. What does this fact suggest about love?

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You can love a person, and not be able to live with them. For instance, one person could be a clean freak, always straightening and tidying the furniture in the house, while the other partner is a slob, leaving a trail of soiled clothes, dirty dishes, old newspapers….

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The problem with love between a man and woman is that, over time, people often grow apart. The differences become too difficult to overcome.

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Many women end their marriages because they “don’t want put up with the bullshit.” I know of a woman who left her husband because he was a drug addict. Having a career and high-paying salary provides many women with freedom to choose their mate, as well as their lifestyle. Women can choose to remain single and support themselves, or tie the knot with a guy, in order to have children. Yet, I have met a few women who don’t get married but have children. What does this suggest about love?

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Some people become obsessed with love–and they will kill to keep it. Hatred is the opposite of love. When a man beats his wife to death, or a wife hires a hit man to kill her husband, so she can collect the insurance money, this is not love. It is an act of evil.

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Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.—Lao Tzu

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Many people celebrate love on Valentine’s Day. They purchase cards and gifts, and then take their partner out for dinner. I think celebrating love this way is just a “cash grab” for the retailers.

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Some people love themselves more than anyone else. These people are called narcissists. It’s difficult to love a narcissist.

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Without commitment, men and women will often cheat. I know of eight marriages that have ended because one of the partner’s cheated. What does this tell us about love?

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Men and women are hard wired to have sex with everyone they are attracted to. The fear of pregnancy, guilt, a sense of morality, worry about their partner ending the relationship, prevents most men and women from acting on their sexual impulses. Yet, some people ignore fear or guilt or sense of morality.

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When love ends, we often feel sadness and grief—a sense of loss. When my marriage ended, I felt depressed for two years, and then I moved on. Some people are so grief-stricken that they commit suicide.

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The best love develops over a long time. It often endures hardship and setbacks. I know of several couples who were married for more than 50 years. The marriages ended because one of the partner’s died.

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Many people are victims of bad love. They choose the wrong partner. For instance, the person might be abusive, a gambler, a drunk, a womanizer, unable to communicate. The reasons are endless. Life becomes miserable, until they end the misery.

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We can love more than one person in a lifetime. I’ve had several girlfriends, and loved them all in one way or another. Why does love end? The person’s important human needs are not being met.

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All relationships have conflict. It is expressed as disagreement. Frequently, a man and woman will argue. Sometimes, threats are made. When the conflict is not resolved amicably, seeds of resentment are planted. Often, love relationships end because of irreconcilable differences.

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The best relationships resolve conflict with a win-win solution. The husband might not get what he desires. The wife might not get what she desires. Instead, the couple finds another alternative that both desire.

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At different stages in life, the human needs of men and women change. What men and women desire in our twenties is not what they desire in middle age. And what we desire in old age is not what they desire in middle age.

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Best friends make for the best lovers, providing there is sexual chemistry. Otherwise, the person will say, “We can be friends, but not lovers.”

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Love is blind because, when we are courting, we often act on our emotions, failing to see the follies, foibles, and shortcomings of the other person. I know a guy who married a woman because she had a body like a porn star. Now, he’s divorced. I also know a woman who married a handsome guy who had a career, earned a few hundred thousand a year. Now, she’s divorced.

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Lust is not love–only a sexual desire.

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Love can improve your health or make you miserable–even make you depressed.

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Research suggests that marriage is the greatest source of conflict, as well as the greatest source of satisfaction. I argued with my ex-wife for twelve years about money, values, parenting, work, house work, spending time together–and now we are divorced.

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Based on my experiences, the best relationships between a man and a woman are based on friendship. There must also be similar values, similar interests, a desire to spend time together, and intellectual compatibility. Most of all, there must be sexual chemistry, a desire to have sex with each other. Many marriages die because of boredom.

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People end their marriages because they are dissatisfied in some way. The divorce gives them the freedom to search for someone more compatible. I know a woman who divorced her husband when she was in her early 30s. Now she is 79, and still single. I say, “be careful what you wish for.”

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Loss of a life partner due to death, results in despair and grief. A love that begins with the trumpets of marriage and ends in divorce is also like a death.

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Men betray wives, and wives betray men. Betrayal is not love. Indifference is not love. I’ve met a few people who are indifferent to their partner.

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How do you know if you are in love? Dr. Seuss said, “You know you are in love because your life is better than your dreams. ”

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Love can be expressed in many ways. A few symbols of love include gifts, holding hands, eye contact, kissing, hugging, smiling, spending time together, respect for each other, interesting conversation, acts of kindness, acts of compassion…

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The other day, I saw an elderly woman, taking a stroll in the park, pushing her husband in a wheelchair. This is an expression of love.

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Love will give you a sense of well-being and satisfaction. It is a life force. It is the elixir of life. Without love, life has little meaning and purpose.

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Love seems to be on the minds of countless people. It was the most searched word in the Google Search engine for 2012.

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What is love? Author Nicolas Sparks, in the best selling novel, “A Walk to Remember,” said it best: Love is like the wind, you cannot see it, but you can feel it.

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About Dave Hood

Lover of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Professional photographer and writer. Without the arts, life would be rather mundane, like a walk down the same old path on a dull day.
This entry was posted in Collage Essay, Creative Nonfiction, Love, Personal Essay, Segmented Essay and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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