The Language of “Love”

I find it fascinating that we often use the word “indescribable” to describe falling in love. We have thousands upon thousands of words at our disposal, adjectives and adverbs by the mouthful, but when we ask someone to describe how it felt to fall in love, they get a whimsical little smile on their face and say “There are no words.”

No words to illustrate a romance, to explain the moment of recognizing another’s soul, to reveal the heady descent into a blissful abyss. And I think that’s telling. One of the most amazing, wonderful, glorious, sought after moments in the human experience and our language just isn’t enough. We are left speechless, wrapped in a hazy inability to give voice to the overwhelming nature of our feelings. Even poets, masters of language, rely on metaphors to draw us an almost picture. It is always “Love is like…” rather than “Love is…” The whole thing intrigues, really.

We have so few words to use when it comes to love. The word has become rather diluted in our overuse of the term. We love nature and family and Diet Coke and our spouse with the same word. There are no real gradations of the emotion. We love. Period. We can decrease our love down to “like” or “infatuation” or “fondness”, but we cannot adequately nuance it. We’ve lost our specificity. Even words like “adore” and “cherish” and “treasure” and “admire” have become muddled. We apply them to so very many things, and somewhere along the way, they have all faded into each other.

As a writer, I choose my words carefully in the same way a painter decides which shade of blue his sky must be. There are so many to choose from, and they are selected with care and purpose. Words mean something; there is power in them. They can wound and they can heal, and therefore they must be respected. So when I write of love or something like it, I’m often frustrated. Because I want to be specific. I want to describe the right kind of love. When I write of loving my family and loving my friends and loving a man, I want them each to be special in their own way. I want that love I’m speaking of to be unique to the situation. I want to take love and divide it up so that I can understand it, while still knowing that by doing so I ruin the beauty of what love truly is.

Love isn’t really a concrete thing we can hold onto. We can’t pin it down and explain it easily. This is what makes it beautiful and lovely and worth having; love, essentially, is surrounded by an air of mystery. Because really, you can’t dissect falling in love. It never happens the same way twice. It can’t be analyzed like an experiment; there is no control, only a billion variables unique to a billion people. One falls in love the way one falls asleep. You are conscious and aware and firmly awake until you slowly begin to drift off and things become a little hazy and wonderful and suddenly you’re in the middle of dreams and new worlds and you can’t imagine how you lived without that person near you. You wake up transformed and look over at the beautiful soul by your side and just smile because they hold your heart and there is nothing in this world more wonderful than that.

Maybe what makes love so amazing is that we don’t have enough words for it. We can’t define it or divide it into compartments. We love and we love and we love. In some ways, it seems that our language was created around the idea of unconditional love, rather than a love that can be narrowed down to specifics for certain people or situations. I love my family and I love my friends and I love my writing and I love words, and maybe I don’t love them all in the same way, and yet I do. I love them all completely, with every piece of my heart. I don’t love any of them less, because all of them are worth loving. I adore them and I admire them and I cherish them, all of them. And when I stop to think, really think, I don’t want to try and dilute my love. I don’t want to reduce it to anything other than the almost indescribable feeling each of those things blesses me with.

Maybe there is no “right kind” of love. There is only love.

The French, when saying “I love you”, say “Je t’aime”. This always frustrated me when I was learning French, because the verb “aimer” really means “to like”. So you’re saying “I love you” with the same words that someone uses to describe liking a sport or kind of food or the weather outside. I hated the universality of it; it left much unsaid. It was too simple, too pedestrian. And confusing, perhaps, because maybe I’m just saying “I like you” but it could be taken as “I love you”, and that could create an awkward moment because you’re hoping the person doesn’t take it the wrong way, or maybe you’ve just started dating and you don’t want him or her to think you’ve said “I love you” first. What a tangled web our words can weave.

But now I can see the beauty in that simplicity, the beauty of “Je t’aime”. Because the person to whom you’re speaking, the person whose eyes are you looking into and whose heart is beating in time to your own, will know exactly what you mean. They know you love them and they believe it. They don’t question how much or wonder what kind of love you mean. They simply know.

I think our world would be a lovely place if we loved each other that way. Instead of trying to compartmentalize our love, if we just loved each other completely, unconditionally, without definition or limitation, just maybe we could change the world. Maybe we could become exactly the sort of people we were created to be. A people who love first and love second and love because when you take away all the extras, all the clutter of life and narrow it down to the most essential thing, the one thing we all believe in, love is what matters. It is what you remember most. It was what your soul and heart and mind were created for. I dare you to embrace it.

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter >> @cassiclerget.
I’m pretty entertaining.


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