I have been thinking a lot about the word “love”. It is the most overused word in the English language (and probably in most of the almost 6900 languages in the world).
Why do we find the need to describe every feeling with the word “love”?
I love that show! I love my shampoo. I love Bradley Cooper.
Really? Is it really love I feel for television, products, and actors?
Seemingly, I find some programming to be well-written, comical, or thoughtful, and so some shows outweigh others. But does that mean love? No, it would probably be more accurate to say I am partial to certain programs because I feel a sense of pleasure and enjoyment while I am watching them.
As for my shampoo, I mean it really does make my hair feel soft. Because of its quality, I think I feel an allegiance to my brand.
And, most women would agree that Bradley Cooper is a hottie, and most men would agree that he is a good actor. However, I do not know Bradley Cooper personally, I know the characters he plays in films, and the way he portrays himself in interviews. Yet, I do not know him know him, and so I think what I feel is fond of his abilities.
Love. I feel it is important to use this word sparingly, and only in a context when I mean it. If I say “love” it should come from my heart and be real.
Case in point: When we were younger, my brother and I were ridiculously close. He is five years older than I am, but we were best friends, and the love we felt for each other was clear to anyone who knew us. However, we ran into a hiccup in our twenties. We began experiencing life differently. We used to seem to have everything in common, and then suddenly we didn’t. One day I realized that my focus in life was vastly different from my brothers, and instead of accepting each other and our individual outlooks on life, we developed a clear resentment for each other. For no apparent reason, we didn’t really like each other as much as we did in the past, and I found that as siblings do, we worked hard to push each other’s buttons.
After my parents passed away seven years ago, we both realized that we needed to reconcile or our immediate family would be gone. We were all that we had left. For the first time in years, we made efforts to see each other and talk on the phone. I found that we were both trying and when two people make an effort, what evolves is a ripening relationship. Nonetheless, in all of those years, I still found it difficult to say “I love you,” although the love I felt for my brother had definitely began to return.
This past Christmas Eve, leaving his house, we engaged in the same awkward embrace that we always seem to share. This time, it was different. As I hugged my brother, for the first time in years, I said, “I love you.” I felt a sudden flush of emotion. I blinked hard so as not to cry because what I said I meant and what I meant made me emotional.
You see, I think that is what should happen whenever I say “love”. I think love should make me feel something deep in my core, and if it doesn’t, it’s probably a liking, amity, fidelity, or affection. All of these words are important to emotional well-roundedness, but they are not love. Love is a powerful word that should not be abused. When I say it, I want it to mean something.