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An extemporaneous and short treatise on Love

On this Valentine’s Day, amidst the heart-shaped candy boxes and holiday cards ranging from mushy to humorous, I thought it an opportunity to wax philosophic on my personal views of love. Much greater authors and philosophers than this humble scribe have spoken of love in prose and poetry since the dawn of written language. Sometimes, though, it’s just nice to collect one’s thoughts – even if they’re not particularly cohesive.

I am a sucker for love, and always have been. I think it’s truly the greatest gift we receive in life, and the greatest we can give. I’ve always felt that way as far back as I can remember. Of course, love has more than one type, and that has reflected in my views on love for all these years. The ancient Greeks had many words for love, “eros” for sensual love, “agape” for spiritual love, “philios” for brotherly love, and more. At the root of all these types of love, though, I believe is a root of selflessness.

When you love another, you give of yourself, regardless of the type of love. When it’s erotic, you want your partner to find blissful satisfaction. When it’s brotherly love, your concern for others is greater than your concern for yourself. You want them to be well, do better, have comfort, not because it pleases you, but because you know it is of benefit to them. In spiritual love, we seek to be of service to our Higher Power, leaving behind our own needs.

In that sense, it is this selflessness that makes love last. For the moment that we think of our own needs ahead of those we love, we lose love altogether. To me, this is what makes some marriages last, and others fade. As partners live a life together, the types of love they practice with each other will change, but the desire to be selfless, to place the other’s needs in front of our own is what keeps a couple together over time. I have a saying that I tell people about our marriage. My wife and I both believe that marriage is at minimum, a 70/30 proposition. If we’re both giving 70% and only asking for 30%, we have a huge overlap of love in our lives.

This is not to ignore love for one’s self. In fact, without love of one’s self, there is no ability to love another. It is not possible to give something you don’t have, and I have experienced that in my own life. There was a time when I found myself at a low ebb, not able to look in the mirror and smile at the image looking back at me. In that state, I tried to love, but found it hollow and vapid. It was only after I spent extensive time working on myself, to become a better person, that I found I could offer love, and be worthy of their love in return. A strong component of that for me was finding the love of a Higher Power. Mother Teresa once said that, “the fruit of prayer is love.” She understood that it was in building a relationship with her Higher Power by “talking” through prayer, that she felt love. I don’t pretend to believe that my spiritual beliefs are for everyone, nor do I want to impose them. I just know that it wasn’t until I found the love of a Higher Power, that I was finally able to do the work I needed to love myself.

So to those who are seeking love in their lives, I suggest first to find a relationship with a Higher Power that you can love with all your might, all your heart, and all your spirit. Once that is found, work on yourself, to become better, and then trust in the Cosmos.

Blessings to you all!

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