Love In Any Language Is Still Love
How important is love to you?
To those of us in the English-speaking world the word is love. In other languages it goes something like this:
· Czech: laska
· Danish: kaerlighed
· Dutch: liefde
· Estonian: armastus
· Finnish: rakkaus
· French: amour
· German: die Liebe
· Hungarian: szeretet
· Icelandic: ast
· Indonesian: saying
· Italian: amore
· Latvian: milestiba
· Lithuanian: meile
· Norwegian: kjaerlighet
· Polish: zamilowanie
· Portuguese: amor
· Romanian: dragoste
· Slovak: laska
· Slovenian: ljubezen
· Spanish: amor
· Swedish: karlek
· Turkish: ask
Look it up in your Webster’s Dictionary and you will find that love means: a strong affection for another rising out of kinship or personal ties; an attraction based on sexual desire; affection and tenderness felt by lovers; affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests.
However, those are just words. The word ‘love’ and the meaning of love are as different as night and day to this author, and it is that difference that will be the subject of this article.
Not many things bug me but there is a term that can be seen at the end of many emails and text messages and it also quite popular on Facebook and that term is ‘love ya.’ Let me explain why those two words stick in my craw. In my humble opinion saying ‘love ya’ devalues love somewhat. You either love someone with all of the emotion and attachment that word carries with it or you don’t. Either say I love you or don’t! I know, some of you right now are rolling your eyes and thinking I’m completely off of my rocker, and I can live with that; Lord knows I’ve been called worse during my lifetime. I just don’t like seeing the word love lessened by some modern slang; the emotion of love carries way too much meaning for me.
WHAT LOVE MEANS TO ME
For me, love is the opposite of death. My life really began when love became a possibility. When I became capable of loving myself and loving others then a new life began for this wanderer; until that moment I was a walking dead man, a mere shadow of what I once was.
But how can that be you ask? How can the experience of love mean re-birth? Examples might aid in my explaining this rather bizarre claim that I have set forth. Imagine seeing the world in blacks and whites and shades of gray. Then imagine the filter being removed and suddenly everything is in vivid colors. Imagine walking through life with tunnel vision: all you see is what is in front of you, those things necessary to make it the next step, then the next, walking through life seeing the job, the car, the meal in front of you, only those things associated with daily existence. Then imagine an explosion of senses as the blinders are taken off: the slightest hint of jasmine in the air; the intricate nature of a spider web or dew drops on a blade of grass; noticing that all of life is interconnected and marveling at the smile of a small child, the warmth of a summer breeze, the joy of splashing in a mud puddle.
That is what the discovery of love meant to me and yet so much more. Knowing that I never had to be alone again….knowing that the world is so much more enjoyable when with a loved one….caring more for another person than for yourself, and yet taking care of yourself for that other person….they are all aspects of true love. Becoming one with another person and yet maintaining your individualism, that is love. Sensing that as one grows in a relationship so too does your partner, that is love. Feeling as though a part of you is missing when your love partner is gone, that too is love.
So you see, saying ‘love ya’ doesn’t hold a candle to the words ‘I love you.’
HOW IT ALL CHANGED FOR ME
First I had to put the plug in the jug. If you have read any of my previous articles you know that I am an alcoholic and as long as I was drinking I was incapable of loving anyone including myself. Love takes time and effort and commitment and when your only love is booze then there is nothing left to give anyone else.
Second I had to change myself. Merely stopping the drinking was not enough to change the person I had become; what was needed was a complete overhaul, a new foundation from which a new person could emerge.
Third I returned to teaching. I became a teacher because I have always had a special bond with students, a comradeship and a feeling of acceptance and closeness that has always been missing in other areas of my life. It was only natural that once I sobered up that I return to that which has given me so much joy in the past. Two years teaching in Oregon made me realize that I was lovable, that I did have worth, that I could find happiness without alcohol.
Fourth I turned once again to the outdoors that I have always felt a special kinship with; hiking, walking, taking photos, getting back in touch with nature and re-discovering all of the gifts I had received in the past from nature.
Fifth, I allowed the love of another person to fill me once again with that magical feeling so long missing from my life. She has filled me with an infectious fascination with life, the wonder associated with the remarkable AND the mundane. She has allowed me to be myself and shown remarkable patience as I shed my old protective armor and emerged buck-ass naked to the world. She sees the things in life I had become incapable of seeing and she teaches me daily how to see them again. She saw, and continues to see, something in me I once thought had died and would remain gone forever, a little kid wanting so badly to be part of life and yet not knowing how. She became the teacher and I the student and although I’m not ready to ace the course I am at least no longer flunking and that is serious progress.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LOVE
Towards the end of his masterpiece “Siddhartha,” author Hermann Hesse explains through his main character the importance of love. “And this is now a teaching you will laugh about: love, oh Govinda, seems to me to be the most important thing of all. To thoroughly understand the world, to explain it, to despise it, may be the thing great thinkers do. But I’m only interested in being able to love the world, not to despise it, not to hate it and me, to be able to look upon it and me and all beings with love and admiration and great respect.”
It is funny in a sad way that I read that book decades ago and it held a special meaning to me and yet I didn’t know what that special meaning was; today I do. Today I understand that in my former life I was incapable of loving; the book passage resonated with me but I didn’t know why at the time. I realize now, of course, it was because I felt unloving and unlovable and yet wanted both so much.
TODAY I LOVE
There is no doubt in the minds and hearts of my loved ones about whether or not I love them. I look them in the eyes daily and tell them, not in some slang fashion, but using the three words that mean so much: I love you! Today they see those words have meaning because I show them through my actions. Love, for me, truly is the most important thing of all. I have had fame, fortune and possessions and they did not bring me happiness. I have had surface relationships and affairs and they did not bring me happiness. All of the trappings of life that I thought were so important only brought me hollowness inside and left me always seeking new solutions to the emptiness.
Today I love! Today I see the wonder in life and understand my role in it all. Today I rejoice in the simple things, laugh at what I once thought were problems and embrace completely this gift I have been given. From near-death I have arisen and I greedily drink the elixir that saved my life.
Love really is the most important thing of all. May you all find love and in so doing find happiness for they are one and the same.