Hopefully, this is going to be one of those posts I write that stay with me forever. The ones that I read 2 years from now and think: wow – I needed this reminder; good thing I wrote it down years ago.
The catalyst for this post kinda came about after I read an excellent article by Pop Chassid. So, some of you may recognize some of his themes in this post, but I’m definitely going to be expanding on it and putting the victor twist on things.
I was listening to Everything – Lifehouse as I wrote this, so click this:
What is happiness? I feel like it’s quite simple – it’s reality minus expectations.
If reality > expectations, then you are getting more from life than what you expect, and you are happy.
If reality < expectations, then you expect more than what your life is giving you, and you are unhappy.
The problem with LOVE in our society nowadays is that our reality is not matching up with our expectations – not even close! Think about it – what does society tell us about love? WHAT IS LOVE?
Look on TV, look in the movies, listen to today’s music, and it tells us that love is something that we feel. It is an emotion:
– my fire, my one desire.
– a flippy-floppity feeling I get in my chest when I see you.
– when I can’t go through my day without stopping and staring at you, awestruck in your beauty.
– when I stop sometimes and think about how your day is going, because I’m missing you.
– when all I can think about is you, want to know everything about you, want to share my world with you.
– when I look into your eyes and whisper…I love you.
*eugh that last one was so cheesy I need some lansoprazole for it…har har (:P).
Sounds familiar right? I mean, when you’re brought up in a culture where this ideal of what love is runs rampant, it isn’t surprising that this emotional fire is what we EXPECT when we fall in love.
And this is compounded by the fact that during the dating phase, the excitement of dating someone who seems perfect for you naturally brings out this emotional fire in us. The infatuation, the shared laughs, the quirky things about them that you love – we’ve all felt it. This must be love, right?
Some people like to categorize love – that there is a romantic love, and also a familial love. Makes sense right? – that the love you feel for your girlfriend is going to be different from the love you feel for your family.
But right now, I think differently.
I think there is only one concept, and that is love. Dividing love into these 2 categories is feeding into our society’s whole misconception of love, resulting in the ~50% divorce rate in North America.
The root of the problem is that we are taught to believe love is a noun: an emotion – something we feel. This burning fire, this emotional desire – that must be love. Which is why they tell us romantic love is different from familial love – because it’d be weird for you to feel this burning love for your family, right?
But really, what I’ve come to realize these past few weeks is that love is actually a verb. Love isn’t an emotion; the fire that you feel when you’re dating and maybe even when you propose – that’s just that: emotional fire. But that isn’t love.
I believe that love is a verb – better defined as giving. As in: putting someone else’s needs above your own.
They say actions speak louder than words, and that’s what I believe. Love is measured by what you are willing to do for them – what you are willing to sacrifice for their happiness.
Are you willing to put their happiness above yours?
I’m not necessarily talking about grand gestures like jumping in front of a bullet or anything – but sometimes the measure of a man is seen in the small things.
Like when you’re sick, and they remember to bring you something for it (congee? chicken noodle soup?).
Like when they’re stranded somewhere, and you drop everything and take time out to rescue them.
For the married ones, maybe love is when they offer to do the dishes because they see how tired you look.
Or maybe when they offer to pick up the kid even though it’s your turn, because you’ve had a tough day.
My experience is obviously limited, and the possibilities are endless. But what I truly believe is that love is defined by how much of my comfort I am willing to sacrifice for your happiness.
And because this is what I believe love to be, then familial love makes sense. Because if you think about it, our parents’ love for us is the ultimate demonstration of this concept. Because parents are willing to sacrifice almost everything for our happiness.
They say a kid costs a million dollars to raise from 0 to 18 years; $1,000,000 could have bought them a lot of material comforts.
As babies, our parents regularly put up with us vomiting everywhere, spitting out food, throwing tantrums.
As kids, our parents give up so much of their time to drive us to all the sports or other extra-curricular things we did.
As teenagers, they put up with all the hurtful and spiteful things we say, the stupid things we do because we want to act grown-up. And they still love us unconditionally.
As young adults, they’re our safety net – ready to catch us when we fall. Who’s the first person you call if you get into a car collision?
To me, parental love is the purest, most ultimate demonstration of love. It is a love that is purely for you – their offspring.
The kind of sham love that is promoted in our society nowadays is a mockery of this concept. Many people get into marriage thinking that swoon-inducing fire from the dating phase will last forever. After all, Disney does promote that. And when the fire inevitably burns out, they get divorced.
Can you really expect to feel that burning, emotional fire throughout your entire marriage? Love as an emotion is selfish – because it isn’t for her. It’s for me – an emotion I have in my chest.
Love is an action – it is giving, without expecting in return. It is what you are willing to do for someone else. It is in facing the grind of everyday practical life, together, that love blossoms.
Being sappy isn’t love. Telling someone you love them doesn’t mean you do.
I can’t imagine a bigger lie. We’re living Disney movies in our minds, and tragedies in our lives.
victor, I hope you don’t forget this.
how can I // stand here with you // and not be moved by you?
would you tell me // how could it be // any better than this?
Dated September 29, 2013.