It has started families just as well as ended them. It has fueled wars, both ruined and ended lives, changed the face of the planet.
At the same time, love has been the driving force of change for the better, giving people hope and something to look forward to.
It has taught me about how beautiful and horrible every single person in this world is capable of being.
It has showed me that we, ourselves, are both the cause and the cure to all our woes. It has introduced me to me.
How is it possible that one single concept could hold so much peace and so much hatred? So much beauty and so much monstrosity?
The answer is simple. Love is perfect – the one thing in the entire universe that is entirely perfect. And being such means it must hold everything within it – both good and evil, both beauty and ugliness, both peace and war.
Love is the single power in this universe that is perfection. It is mutable, multifaceted. It can grow in strength and dissipate.
Love is whatever we wish it to be. Or rather, love is whatever we make it to be. Whether what we make of it is what we wish it to be, is an entirely different question.
Understanding love and what it allows for is arguably the most important lesson a person can learn in his or her lifetime.
It is the one thing that every single human being in the world – and plenty of animals as well – longs for.
In a sense, even sociopaths wish to be loved – even if only by themselves.
Love is what drives us to act. It drives us to create change, to become different people. I say different and not better because the truth is love doesn’t always turn us into better individuals.
It doesn’t always make us better people – sometimes it makes us a whole lot worse.
In life, we are capable of loving a lot of things. We can love objects, experiences, memories, but no love is like the love we have for another human being.
To understand why this is so, we have to understand what love really is.
Love is an emotion, but not just an emotion. It is, more than anything else, a change. Love necessarily changes us because it is, itself, the change.
We love our friends and family because they changed our lives for the better. They showed us another, better version of reality.
They didn’t simply add to our lives; they changed our lives, changed our perspective, changed what we thought it meant to be alive.
And then, of course, we have the most coveted of all loves: romantic love.
Romantic love is by far the most dangerous of loves, but for this very same reason, it is the most powerful.
It has the ability to change a person to such an extent that afterwards, that person is often not even recognizable to him or herself.
The problem with love is that it doesn’t offer a definition. Sure, we experience it, but most people never come to truly understand it.
The issue starts with the preconceived notions we have of love. We go into it expecting and believing, instead of listening and learning.
The first time I truly fell in love, I fell into the same trap that countless others have fallen into – I fell in love thinking I understood what it meant to be in love, what it meant to love someone with your entire soul. And it was this misguided belief that ruined everything, as it does for countless others.
You can’t learn anything if you approach things believing you already know all there is to know – and love, if anything, is a learning experience.
I went into love believing it would last forever. After the relationship failed, I was convinced it simply wasn’t possible.
What I felt and experienced was most certainly love, and if it was love, then clearly love could not last forever.
Looking back over the span of a decade, I had to rethink my belief. The fact is that you can love someone forever; yet, it won’t be in the manner that you likely thought it would be.
I’m not sure whether it’s our culture that ruins love for so many individuals or whether we simply allow the intense emotions we experience to define love in its entirety.
Regardless, the fact is that because we misunderstand what it means to love, we ruin it.
How is it possible to love someone forever? The answer is an incredibly simple one.
If someone you love changes your life to a great enough extent, if he or she changes the person you have grown to be, if this person adds enough of his or her personal touch to the canvas that is your life, and you love the result, then you have no choice but to love this person.
Of course, sometimes it’s those we hate who change us for the better, and clearly we don’t love them.
But if someone you once loved, someone whom you once thought you’d spend your life with, share your life with, be with until the end, changes your life to such a great extent, then you will love him or her forever.
It doesn’t matter if you want to. It doesn’t matter if that person moved on with his or her life, fell for somebody else, even became a different person; you will – always and forever – love that person.
This doesn’t mean you won’t find someone else to love. It doesn’t mean you can’t move on with your life, get married, start a family and be incredibly happy sharing your life with another person.
But it does mean, I’m sorry to say, you will still never entirely let go. Because you just can’t. He or she has changed you so greatly that letting go isn’t possible without letting go of yourself.
It’s sad but also beautiful. To think that one person could affect another in such a manner is remarkable. It tells us more about life and human nature than anything else ever could.
It may bring a tear to your eye from time to time, but without tears every so often, even smiles lose their meaning.
– by Paul Hudson