Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

The many shades of love

Posted on March 04, 2014 by jimparedes

Posted on February 18, 2014 by jimparedes

Love is one of the most beautiful things one can experience. It can also be the most confusing, frightening, traumatic and foolish emotion that can befall anyone.

It is easy to say “I love you” to people we love. And if we live long enough, we will experience many kinds of love, in different shades, involving many kinds of people and situations. We may experience love in different doses, some too little, others too much, depending on the circumstances and the decisions we make.

Motherly love probably has the most impact on the formation of our personalities. To a mother, loving her child is a primal experience; many women feel totally overwhelmed with an entire gamut of emotion when they have a child.

When the dice were rolled, we ended up with the mothers we have, for better or worse. As humans, we first experience love and also rejection from our mothers. The abundance or lack of love, the nurturing qualities and neurotic dysfunctions of mothers are passed on and leave their marks that their children carry for the rest of their lives.

I can say that I am very happy and grateful to have been born into this world through my mom.

There is also fatherly love, which gives off a love energy, which is nurturing in a masculine way. Unlike the motherly kind, it expresses love by protecting, materially supporting, guiding the children, and showing physical strength. Its affection can be distant but constantly reassuring. While a mother’s love is unconditional, a father’s love expands and pushes you to measure up to something — an ideal, an ambition. Ideally, fatherly love cheers you on as you set out to claim your future, and encourages you when you fall short of your dreams.

Sibling love is a kind of “identity” love. It affirms a sense of connectedness, context and bonding that children feel for each other as the offspring of the same parents. Brotherly and sisterly love can make us feel very much at home and teaches us a lot about sharing, competition and camaraderie. It also promotes the value of loyalty to family in an intimate, comfortable way.

Love among friends is probably the easiest kind of love, if you have the right kind of friends. In such a relationship, everyone gives and receives voluntarily. When it is good, there is no one to impress; it’s a come-as-you-are kind of connection. Such bonding may last a few weeks, years, or a lifetime with people coming and going as they wish.

Love of country is somewhat similar to family love except that the circle is way bigger. It involves a relationship with society and geography, and demands that we subscribe to the myths, values, history and interests of the groups that live in it.

Except for its broad coverage, love of country is hardly different from the love we have for, say, our alma mater or any large organization we belong to. Think of the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry or the EDSA experience. On an emotional level, love of country is felt as the stirrings of nationalism or team spirit. It is a “tribal,” ethnocentric kind of love.

Universal love is experienced by people who have a genuine concern for all of humanity, and all things, living and non-living. People who feel this are the kind who join Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and World Wildlife Fund. They are the environmentalists, mediators, peace advocates, and the likes of Mother Teresa. They go beyond all borders, feeling empathy and compassion for the nameless and faceless suffering masses and working to improve their lot. Their love for humanity is boundless.

I have purposely saved the best and most obvious kind of love for last.

Romantic love is the kind of love we cultivate and offer paeans and unending devotion to, especially at this time of year. To the overwhelming majority the world over, it is the most sought-after experience of love.

To put it simply, romantic love is like all the different types of love described above, but laced with fuzzy, warm, intense and erotic feelings, and the entire range of emotions we are capable of, both pleasant and unpleasant. Romantic love may include different grades of relationships from “puppy love” to the real full-blown deal.

Whether requited or unrequited, romantic love involves adoration, intense physical attraction, a strong erotic desire, and obsession. You can also throw in passion, pain, alienation, extreme pleasure, great calm, contentment, belonging, an unquenchable desire to be with that special someone, and even a fleeting out-of-body experience of being in some kind of heaven.

Romantic love can be a totally powerful physical, mental, and spiritual experience that stretches us in ways that can surprise us.

Love is one of the big deals in life, if not the biggest. We may strive for money, power, fame, health, beauty, and whatever else, but mostly, the motive for these acquisitions is we want to be more attractive, and thus more lovable, to others.

Why do we have such a need to love and be loved? I honestly don’t know, except that it feels good. All I know is, despite the foolhardiness of falling in love, it is way more foolish not to engage in it. Perhaps, despite all the pains associated with it, we were born to love and be loved.

But what do you do when romantic love wanes, as it does, eventually? If you stay around long enough, another form of love takes its place. As the psychologist M. Scott Peck wrote, the death of romantic love can be the start of true love.

We can make love grow deeper through the years by loving unconditionally. Loving truly means to stop searching for, enumerating or finding reasons, justifications or conditions for loving someone. When love moves beyond the original lure of physical, mental, psychological and sexual attraction that started it all, it becomes an act of the will, a decision to love, unconditionally.

You love and continue to love because you have chosen to. No ifs,? and/or buts about it. You have become a true lover. You are love itself. No conditions apply. Nothing else matters.

May all those who are in a romantic relationship reach the stage of True Love.
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