Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Definition of Love

"I wanna know what love is. I want you to show me." -- from Foreigner's 1985 No. 1 hit "I Want to Know What Love Is"

Last night, my brother Alexi and I had an interesting debate about God and love and the definition of both in which, thank, well, God, nobody dared to utter that tired old cliché about how "God is love." If He were, it would be love with conditions and expectations and the ever-looming threat of eternal damnation if we don't bend to His will -- the kind of love we would find completely unacceptable coming from a mere mortal -- but trust me, that's a topic for another post.

In the end, Alexi delivered what is perhaps the most satisfying description of love -- specifically, romantic love -- that anyone has ever offered me outside of music, poetry and cinema. It included the perfect doses of magic, passion and realism, with a nice dinnertime metaphor thrown in for literary effect. This morning, when I woke up thinking about it, craving it (as the lover and as the loved), I knew I had to share it. For those of us who haven't been in the throes of this kind of love or aren't currently caught up in the rapture of it, may we all someday get to live it with another person who feels as strongly as we do.

"Full romantic love encompasses all the loves: the need to be a better lover; the need to be a better friend; the need to help the helpless; the need to help the stranger. All these things together make us better persons. And in the midst of romance you see your partner as lover, friend, helpless in their love for you, a strange person you want to get to know more of, and, figuratively and literally bring inside of yourself. Apparently, these actions are powerfully mediated by oxytocin and vasopressin. When those initial effects eventually fade there must be an intellectual foundation based on shared experiences and values for there to be a lasting union between the romantic partners. The love drugs only set the table. What happens after the love drugs are gone is the meal. The Reality of day to day, month to month, year to year, decade to decade love is the magic."

The Most Satisfying Lyrical Approximation of True Love in the History of Songs

"She Is His Only Need" Wynonna Judd (who, incidentally, covered Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" on her 2003 album What the World Needs Now Is Love -- and I thought she already had it figured out on her first solo hit 11 years earlier)

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