Really, it's the question we ask, the regime we live by, the verb we imitate, the lifestyle we attempt, what we emulate. We listen to music about it, watch movies on it, read books by the dozens that try to explain it.
It's much discussed, widely coveted, frequently elusive, and gut-churning.
We manifest it, disclaim it, chase it, fake it, want it, and suffer in it's name.
It's sacrifice; it’s giving; it's humbly receiving; it's courage, it's fear, it's comfort, it's loneliness. It perplexes us, frightens us, fills us to overflowing, and leaves us feeling empty.
In a society where love is depicted as chocolates, lust, beautiful people, flowers, an annual holiday, $7 Hallmark cards that play cheesy versions of "I Will Always Love You"--love is misrepresented.
To me, it's not found in the overpriced celebrations. It's in the mother’s worn hands--tired from years of caring for her children. It's in the wrinkles and laugh lines...a juxtaposition of sadness and joy.
It's the looks between old lovers, decades behind them, but never forgetting what they first cherished about each other, and what they continue to be in love with.
It's found in the father who locks away his dreams in order to provide for his family.
It's the comfortable spaces between friends--knowing the right thing thing to say, the shoulder to offer for tears, the hysterical happiness intermingled with grief.
You can find it physically: intertwined limbs, hugs of reassurance, resting on someones shoulder, tightly gripped hands, a massage for the exhausted and hurting body, the healing touch of loving physical contact, a closed bedroom door.
It knows when to talk and when to be quiet. It's listening to words, both spoken and silent. It's loving the virtues and the flaws.
Love isn't restricted to humans. You can see it in the excitedly whipping tail and adoring eyes of your dog; penguins, who mate for life. Cats that crawl in your lap and purr contentedly.
It's what you believe...your daily walk of faith, the road to change in oneself, the renewal of the old man to a new man.
It's ever present and all encompassing, though we may, at times struggle to feel it or believe it. It's idealistic tinged with a necessary dose of reality. It's childlike, but not naive.
Love isn't magic, although the act of loving is sometimes miraculous.
What is love?
It's opening up your heart to be vulnerable and to fully experience beauty and joy. It's jumping out of a plane and losing your breath from the wind currents. It's running until you're exhausted but satisfied. It's a leap of faith; it's a fall into the unknown.
You can hold love close to your chest, or you can freely give it away without any expectation.
You can choose to be transformed; you can choose to embark on an exciting journey. Invest it in, walk in it with courage, give it away without measure, renew it if it is broken or hurt, and give it a second chance.
Tell the people in your life that you, quite simply, love them. Only you can do that--no one can do it for you. It's your love...it's up to you.