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What Is Love?

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope yours is going well. In February of 2010, I was a substitute teacher in Cedartown, Georgia and I had more time on my hands than I do now. Those thoughts inspired the following essay that is today's blog title. Hope you enjoy it.



I was sitting on the sofa drinking a cup of coffee, thinking about what’s coming up in the days ahead. Valentine’s Day is coming up and a thought popped into my head…what is love? It’s an odd time in life to ask that kind of question, since I’m older now. I should have asked the question and gotten an answer when I was younger. To be honest, I did, but sometimes need a reminder.


When I started to think about this, the first thought that came to mind was an old song by Haddaway by the same name. I also thought of the old Saturday Night Live skits by Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan using this song. As funny as the skits were, that’s not where I wanted my line of thinking to go. But the song does ask the question…


What is love?


That day, I had an assignment to substitute for a middle school librarian. In the library, I tried to look up the definition of love and found a myriad of definitions in a variety of dictionaries. The closest definition I could find to what I was looking for was in the Grolier International Dictionary. It says that love is an intense affectionate or concern for another person. Even that definition isn’t clear enough to define what love is. When I was a college student in a basic marketing class, I learned there is no single definition of what marketing is. I believe the same for love. There is no single definition for love.


I couldn’t find a definition that captured what love feels like or what it feels like to be in love. People say you’ll know when you’re in love. I have had cases where what I thought was love was only an infatuation or crush. Again, it begs the question…


What is love?


There have been a few times where I thought or believed I was in love. I believed I was in love because of the intensity of the feeling and how difficult it was to keep my mind off of her. Hmm…maybe Grolier was right. I think part of being in love is the emotional chemistry between you and the person you love. When the chemistry is there, it is something special.


There are other parts, but defining love logically or trying to quantify what love is seems to be difficult, if not impossible. Again, when I was a college student, I learned in a finance class that somebody had the bright idea of quantifying satisfaction. It was called satisficing. There were equations you could use to quantify satisfaction with a product or business. In reality, satisficing is theoretical nonsense. Hence, it would be nonsensical to attempt to quantify love. Also, in my opinion, love is not a logical construct and it doesn’t answer that all important question.


What is love?


In addition to the intense feeling of love, I have also felt the intense pain of heartbreak when the women I loved broke up with me. I’m amazed at how painful it was and how deep the pain ran. I have found that the intensity of the feeling of being in love and the intensity of the pain of the breakup are about the same. Still, that’s not in the definition.


So my search ends and I have a somewhat decent, yet incomplete definition of what love is. But there are still unanswered questions that haunt me. I guess that’s what the pursuit of love is for. I’m sure there are as many definitions of what love is as there are people in the world. And in most cases, you don’t choose who you fall in love with. I’ve seen and experienced it.


Shakespeare once said it is better to have loved and lost than to have never have loved at all. I agree with that. As each of us goes through our pursuits of love, there is something we all need to find out for ourselves.


What is love?




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