Love is probably the most overused, misunderstood and mysterious word in any language. There may be many types of love, but the real thing, no matter for whom it is felt, has some unmistakable common denominators.
The Beatles were surprisingly intuitive about love, declaring that, "Love is all you need." Perhaps many of us could not have imagined the sacrifices that we may be asked to make for love during our lifetime.
Because around Feb. 14 a woman's fancy may turn to love, chocolate, shoes and anything else she may have been brooding about all winter, I decided to get the temperature of couples today. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but the many stages, styles and types of love are in full view to anyone who simply watches.
Having lunch at a local café the other day, I watched couples. I spotted two white-haired couples. One man was staring at his plate like it was fascinating while his mate keep trying to catch his eye so they could perhaps have a conversation. The other couple didn't say a word and shoveled down their food in record time.
Nearby a newly married or soon-to-be-married couple held hands over their burgers and never took their eyes off of each other's face while their cellphones keep ringing and remained unanswered. The father with his son seemed to be enjoying a good-natured conversation on the upcoming school vacation and what was going to be allowed to happen (or not).
Love takes many forms and often passion is misconstrued as love. Hormones drive the chase, the catch and even the release of love and make most its willing captors. I've often thought that Cupid's arrow is constructed of hormones and it is no surprise that when hormones calm down later in life, divorce rates skyrocket.
Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University, remarked, "Love can be stronger than the drive to stay alive."
With maturing and living, we can take comfort in the many forms of love. There is the love of a child or family members, love of one's neighbor, romantic love, lifelong devoted friendship and more.
I've often wondered if there is a barometer of love. I think there is, and I believe that I have found it. It is, in short: putting oneself last for the good or benefit of someone else. Love equals selflessness.
The Bible speaks about love and its manifestations. These words are richer and more profound than any used since or before. It replaces the word love with the word charity and in reading these words we have a benchmark for every relationship in our lives. Here, from I Corinthians, Chapter 13: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunted not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
Einstein, who has been labeled an intuitive genius, described intuitive genius as the ability to, "Read the mind of God." Even though he wasn't religious in the classic sense, when assessing a theory he would reflect, "Is this the way God would design the universe?"
"Where there is the greatest love there are always miracles." -- Willa Cather