When I was five, I had my first crush. He was cute, at least to me, but he wasn't real. He was a character in a movie that I adore to this day. I had a not-so-small infatuation with a fictional boy whose life was exciting and full of adventures. While I thought the actor was cute, I was more interested in the story of the movie, not the actual actor. I would lay in my bed late at night and dream that he and I would travel the galaxy, fight off evil together, and hold hands. Because all five-year-olds know about romance is that the partners link hands. While this image seems adorable and angsty for adults to bear witness to, this dream is a life-long goal of many people.
I've talked to many people over the years about what love is. I have heard different definitions of love as well as learned the difference between types of love. Over the years, I have begun to bind together my thoughts about what love is and what love should be. Love is like the ocean: waves upon waves of love roll to you, and the water of love flows for what seems like eternity, sliding over the horizon for an unknowable distance. Love is like a distant star that shines without blemish and dulls at no moment, its light sailing through space and time right to your eyes. Love is like a nest: Love is created and it grows to whatever size you desire it to be. Love can be messy or it can be neat, depending on how tightly bound the twigs of the nest are made to be. Like a nest, love is a home that no matter how far you wander, will always be waiting for you to return to. Love is like an unfathomable number of ideas and images. Love is like many things, but what is it really?
What love is is up to you to decide for yourself. To me, love is too complicated to explain with words. Love is an action. Love is more than life and more than death. Love is the force that binds the world together, stitching up the seams of every part of life. Love gives you a refreshed and enlightened eye to see through. Love brings fulfillment.
If love is such a benevolent force in our lives, then what happens when love goes away? When you have a broken heart after the end of a relationship, or when someone you love has passed away, the love you feel for that person suddenly becomes like a million sharp knives stabbing at your heart and mind. You feel empty, not fulfilled. You feel like an idiot, instead of one who has seen a glimpse of something greater. When love is lost, you feel misery, suffering, and a part of you dies. When this happens to only you, it is dreadful. When it happens to someone else, you extend a hand of sympathy but go about your business. When the world has lost her love, we all become broken.
Whatever love is to you, use it to spread compassion and kindness. Use love as the eye through which you see the world; both its flaws and its perfections. When you were five, it was all too easy to be kind to others and be empathetic. Is it still? No. When we grow past the phase of fairy-tales and knights in shining armor, the world gets a lot darker and colder. When we grow past the fantasies of our childhood, we realize that there is a greater love out there in the universe than the fairy-tale we dream our lives could be. Love is more than riding off into the sunset with a handsome prince who is "everything we ever dreamed of". Love is compassion. Love is kindness. Love is gentle and caring. Love is understanding. Love is giving another person all you have, becoming one with them emotionally. Love is a choice. Love is life. There are many kinds of love out there. Remember this, and take it as you will.