Some things are never erased, only changed.
Have you ever met someone, anyone, and just known in that one moment that you would do anything in your power to never lose them from your life? I don’t mean you fancied the pants off them or that you liked their taste in music or thought their ideas about life were interesting.
There are many kinds of love in this world. Some more valued and recognised than others. Books have been written about love, countless books, and everyone has their own ideas about it. The Greeks came up with four words to describe four different kinds of love; Eros, Agape, Philia and Storge. Each heads a broad spectrum of love. I do not know quite which of these loves I am thinking of as I write this, I think it is an encompassing of them all. You will see. I am merely writing about a type of love I have experienced, and continue to experience, in a way that makes sense to me.
I believe that love is something which does not diminish nor become depleted over time. It simply adapts to fit what is there. We are at our greatest when we love, which is why we are able to love so much. The more we love; people, places, animals, colours, thoughts, feelings, flavours; the closer we are to finding the best of ourselves. It makes sense then that we should love as much as possible. But perhaps it is less to do with how many individual things we claim to love, and more with the strength of love we truly feel that is what enables us to become brighter. If love burns deep and bright and strong, it will make you glow.
Love alters on its course, twisting and swirling and wisping in and out depending on our perspective at the time. People come in and out of our lives constantly, some to be remembered and some not. Some stick around for the long term, proving that the human race is tenacious to a fault. How can we know what these people will mean to us? Could you honestly sit in front of a line up of people and pick out the ones that were going to be around in five years time. And what of the people you have already known, could you sit in front of a line of them and honestly tell them that you knew they were going to fade out of your life? Of course not. But I think, honestly, that if you love someone truly and deeply, you always will. It does not matter whether you live next door or oceans apart, it is irrelevant whether you speak or not, and love does not care about history. If you love someone from the depths of your soul, even if you didn’t want or expect to, then that is not something easily extinguished.
And here I will begin to explain what I mean when I say ‘love’. Let’s start with what I do not mean.
I am not talking about sexual attraction or desire. I do not mean whirlwind romance and grand gestures and tokens of affection. I am not thinking about when you can’t stop thinking about someone. Nor do I mean the skip your heart does when you see someone.
What I am talking about is something much more pure. Much rarer. And much underestimated. Many people do not even see it.
Have you ever had a kind of instinctive nudging, edging you ever closer to another being? Maybe you find them attractive and maybe you don’t. Maybe they’re old or young, male or female, human or even animal. It really doesn’t matter for what I’m talking about. Love pushes aside these weak limitations, throws open the window and wraps us in something better. And this is where I think my head fills in all the gaps between the four greek kinds of love and merges them all into a fuzzy grey area, because I do not think it matters to whom love is given nor from whence it comes.
Naturally it is an automatic response to think of another human when we think of love. Some might say that this is due to our egocentricity as a species. Others that it is instinct. And of course, both are true. But believe me when I say it is entirely possible to love an animal to depths you cannot fathom. As much as another human? Quite possibly. And maybe much of this makes no sense regarding an animal, but I can tell you quite candidly that the love I have for my dogs is so strong that I fear for anyone who tries to challenge me on it.
When you love, you care. Every fibre of your being tunes into that other life. Every minute you spend in their presence brings a quiet sense of joy. Maybe you see them every day, and maybe not even once a year, but you know without any doubt that you will always find peace in their company. You would drop anything, at 3am and travel 200 miles, just to sit and fix a problem with them. If they go silent, you listen to the words they are not saying. You can spend hours without speaking, and feel refreshed. They do not have to justify anything, you accept them at their word. You trust above and beyond any boundaries you thought you had. When there is good news you are overjoyed with them and when tidings are bad, you quietly offer a shoulder to cry on. And you will fight for them. At their side, in their stead and to reach them when they turn the world aside.
Perhaps you argue and fight and ignore each other. Maybe you say things you can never unsay and hurt them. Or perhaps they hurt you.
In the midst of your pain, if they need you, they do not have the ask the question. You are there. Because this is a kind of love that gives us strength when we think we have none, allows us to follow our hearts and use compassion to the best that we can, and teaches us to never ever let go of the ones we truly love.
Do I believe in love at first sight then? Not in the “that’s the one I’m going to marry and have six kids with and live in a white house with an apple tree in the garden and grow old with” kind of way. No, I do not believe that any of us can know that. But the love I have been describing to you? Perhaps. Maybe from the off, first sight, is pushing it a bit, but I certainly think that some part of us (that instinctive nudging towards another being) knows fairly early on whether or not we love the people we meet.
Personally? It takes me very little time at all. I am instinctive (sometimes to my own chagrin) and so I listen carefully when I am struck with these thoughts. Do I love everyone I meet? Honestly, what kind of girl do you think I am?! Seriously though, of course I don’t. There are but a few people I love like this.
And I remind you that physical attraction and the opposite sex is irrelevant. I have met men who I consider extremely attractive and felt no inkling of ever loving them and yet I have known in an instant that I would always love the girl sitting on the kitchen counter eating a piece of cake.
As I said, there are few people I love like this. I am sure there will be more, but for the moment I have a good handful. And I think it is important to acknowledge to yourself when you love people. There are quotes out there that say we only accept the love we think we deserve. And maybe that is true. But there is no limit on how much love you can give.
I hope you understand at least a little of what I have said. Of what I mean by love and why I am so glad to feel it. I hasten to add that I am not trying to put a limit on what love can be. I know that each and every one of us sees things in a different way and believe me, the description of love as above is by no means exhaustive, to myself let alone anyone else. Please do not feel that I am belittling what you see love to be, I assure you I am not. What I have written is merely an expression of a way of loving that I know to be true.
I know that these people I have in my life who possess (whether knowingly or not) the extent of my love, will always have it. There will always be room in my heart for them because they will never leave it.
And I hope that you have people that you love this truly and that you are glad of it. There may not be many, but it is quality and not quantity which makes it good.
None of us can know if we are loved by others to the same level that we might love. But as I believe everyone is capable of this depth of caring, perhaps it is logical to suggest that at least one person in the world will love us this honestly. So I think we must take heart from that, and know that it does not matter from whom this love comes, only that we are deserving of it and that it is a gift.
You are loved, my friend.