It has been on my mind, a lot! Why? Is it a premonition? If so, of what?
Of course, my “work” is to perform a play about “what love really means.”? The Actual Dance is a love story. And I have been performing and writing about the play and its meaning for five years. So maybe I just am reacting to my own echo chamber.
And yet I can’t get it off my mind. The sound of it in my head keeps getting louder. It is as if my head turns every time I hear the word. And I wonder, what is Love?
I also just read Gary Chapman’s book, “The 5love Languages,” not realizing at first that its genre was “Christiane Living.” I found the book to be a very helpful relationship manual for how to treat people with whom you have a close, if not an intimate relationship. Yet it did not help me answer the question, what IS Love?
My struggle is that I have come to believe that Love is unrelated to behavior or relationship. Behavior and relationships are important regardless of Love. I think relationships of respect, kindness, affection and intimacy are important to human happiness and meaning. We could even call them “loving relationships.” And yet that doesn’t answer for me the question: What is Love?
Instead, in my mind Love is in some sense super-natural. An ethereal state of being that can be experienced or found. I tend to relate it to the idea of the “Thou” concept in Martin Buber’s classic “I & Thou” – it is the idea of a divine presence that can be experienced between a person and other people, animals or objects. The “I” is often referred to as the physical “it” of you and me, our physical existence or presence as opposed to meta-physical presence.
In Christianity love and God are often equated. Love is an attribute if not the essence of the Divine and the Divine’s relationship to humans. Our task is to find that connection or experience it. Perhaps not too far from my own sensibility at the moment. And perhaps similar to Buber’s “Thou” idea.
In Judaism there is also reference to God’s love, but most often the idea of love is measured in or by actions. So, Rabbi Shais Tabu writes on the Chabad website,
In order for love to be real love, it has to be expressed as an action. If you love your beloved, then
you must show it. By the same token, if you are loved, that will show, too. You will recognize it by the way you are treated
This too is behavioral based. It sounds like it could be part of the introduction to Chapman’s book.
And then there is Aristotle. I discovered to my surprise that what I’m feeling seems to be most closely related to early Greek mythology and a widely circulated statement credited to Aristotle
This comports closely to the story told in The Actual Dance. The line is: “I am the other of that which makes us, Susan and me, complete, and when else in our lives is itmore important to be whole than when OUR body is badly broken.”
I wonder sometimes how lucky I am that Susan and I found each other. We have been married almost 52 years. I struggle sometimes with the dichotomy between Love and behavior. In fact, Rob Chapman’s book on “love languages” is indeed very helpful to us, even today nearly 52 years later. We are human beings who have our ups and downs, good days and bad days. We do not always treat each other properly. We need to work on that which isn’t about – in my view – Love.
Love is more mysterious. I tell the story in the play. I “noticed” Susan “in that 16 year-old boy sort of way” when we were, in fact, each just 16 years old. We were at the same youth group convention, though we traveled from different cities. Susan just “happens” to go to College in my home town and we meet each other on a double date, each with a different partner sometime around 1964. How likely is that?
Well there is a word for “that” too. It’s called in Hebrew “B’Shert” or “meant to be.” I have blogged about that before too, how our meeting each other seemed destined to happen.
I like though Aristotle’s concept of a single “soul” inhabiting two bodies. Love is created or happens when two souls become “entwined, each an equal half of the other.” Love exists. Love is real. And it interacts with the physical and intellectual “It” – going back to Buber – parts of us. Our physical beings, mind and body. We need to work on those parts. The Soul though, when it becomes entwined, that is Love.