Love is complicated and simple at the same time. So many that have come before us have eloquently described the feeling and condition in simple phrases that can guide us on our own particular journey of love.

In my experience, love which isn’t hard-fought isn’t true because it hasn’t tested the bounds of its own fragility. At times love seems such a delicate thing. Something that even a delicate wind could blow away one day then it can alternatively seem rock solid like a glacier the next. One day you believe “till death us do part” and the next love is but a memory. To be sure, no one goes into love thinking it will end.

I was intrigued by a paper that I recently read by Heather Chapman of the University of Rhode Island called Love: A biological, psychological and philosophical study. She dedicates the paper to the dead love of her life.

This one poignant act reminded me of how true love really never dies. It transcends breakups and lifestyle changes, age and disease, and caddy differences. I know that I have been closer to people that I truly loved after their death in a way I was never able to when they were alive. I get signs occasionally from the universe that the loved one is close and very frequently during these moments I say hello to my loved one and acknowledge their presence in the mystical world of nearness to the living. Sometimes messages will come in songs, in the mail, in a random sign advertising the services of merchants. I love how the language of love can come in ways we never expect.

In her paper, Ms. Chapman asks many questions––Is love only a biological response? Is it purely a condition brought about by conditioning and hormones? Or is it something deeper?

The idea of what love is has been analyzed and discussed throughout history from many different perspectives, too many to go into in this one post. But what I find the most fascinating is why we want to understand love. What is the relevance of understanding the seemingly inexplicable?

“Research has concluded that the disciplines of biology, psychology, and philosophy are all important in analyzing love; however, more research needs to be done in order to define what love actually is, and how we can apply this knowledge in our everyday lives. With the divorce rates increasing, and the idea of marriage changing in today’s society, the importance of studying the concept of love cannot be overlooked. It is in this research that we, as a community, will be able to understand love and its importance to the survival of the human race.

Why study love? The concept of love has been studied throughout history. Philosophers have been asking such questions as “What is love?” and “Why do we love?” since the beginning of time. Today, these questions are still being asked, perhaps in a more desperate way.” ––From Love: A biological, psychological and philosophical study

From the earliest recorded writings about love we have tried to make sense of it––

Philosophers down the ages have tried to describe love from Plato to Aristotle, and we get messages about love all around us in media and movies from Aldus Dumbledor to Beyoncé.

“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” –– Plato

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” –– Aristotle

“Fortune and love favor the brave.” — Ovid

“Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing.” –– Goethe

“You are protected, in short, by your ability to love.” –– Aldus Dumbeldore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

“Love doesn’t hurt, loving the wrong person does.” –– Beyoncé

From poetry to bravery to protection, and ideal and its reality, and loving the wrong person––what are we to do with all the information we receive about love?

Can we use it to guard our hearts? What are we to surmise about our own experience in the context of what love has meant in ages past?

I believe that love is very frequently what we expect it to be. In my experience, love that let’s us down has been on the downward trend for a very long time, we just haven’t chosen to see it clearly for what it really is. If love is not what we want it to be, we need to stop controlling it and always remember that love involves another and therefore can never be fully described or experienced by one person. In this way, the two halves that make a loving couple are experiencing a mystery, one that only they can try and understand but never understand fully. They can simply know when it is there. And when it has left.

Love is the ultimate and most noble feeling in all of humanity. Without love, babies fail to thrive and people lose their way. Yet love is full of pains because love ends at the point of mutuality. And therefore when we take the ones we love for granted we lose the passion we hold deep inside of us because love always needs another to exist.

It is true that loving well starts with loving ourselves. And when we value who we are through good self care––our hopes and dreams, desires, inclinations, choices and discoveries matter in ways they never did before. In this state of knowing ourselves fully, we are less inclined to disappear into someone else’s life, losing ourselves in the process.

Love starts in our own heart. Our generosity of spirit calls it into action and we are then able to share it with another and even the world. The whole concept of love involves the infinite––an unmeasurable way to care for someone, a sweet thought at just the right moment that changes our lives forever.

“Let love rule.” –– Lenny Kravitz, singer, and songwriter

If we allow love to rule our lives in healthy ways, we will always find our way to a deeper understanding of ourselves through the experience of loving another. And through this fragile equanimity, we open up a universe of understanding and fullness of spirit that never existed before. Love well.

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