Written by Sanford Begley
In the seventies most papers carried a series of Love Is… cartoons, mostly things like cooking together or sharing a drink, that sort of thing. All of these were visible things that people in love could do. Sadly, they never really said what love is, just things people in love could do together. After all, you don’t have to love a woman to enjoy a shower with her. For that matter you don’t even have to truly like her, at least that is the evidence of many people who collect notches on their bedposts.
So if love isn’t what you do together, what is it? Ahh… that is a question. I have thought on it long and hard over the years. I’m not a man to love easily, nor shallowly. I saw lots of people “in love”, for some it truly was, for others? Not so much. I liked a lot of women over the years, enjoyed the company of some I didn’t like for that matter. The concept of love still escaped my real knowing.
I began to get glimmerings eventually. I think the one who cemented it for me was my grandson. Well, my ex’s grandson whom I claimed. Actually I claimed all her grandchildren. They are mine now and forever. He was an unhappy baby and was fussing while very small. It got on my nerves, so I picked him up. It was instant adoration for both of us. I hadn’t held him previously because I was afraid of hurting him. He was fussing because he wanted Grandpa.
I got to thinking about love again. Louis L’Amour used a term which is an allusion to Francis Bacon’s essays. “Hostages to fortune” which is what a man with a family has. L’Amour also mentioned, quite frequently, a paternal instinct. This is different than a maternal instinct in that a maternal instinct is mostly to nurture and tend to children. The paternal instinct is to protect and provide for.
Now, getting back to what love is, a subject I really haven’t left, though I’ve been wandering through the byways of my thought processes. I honestly think that love is taking responsibility for another person freely and of your own will. When a man loves a child he takes responsibility for protecting that child into his heart. When he loves a woman he takes responsibility to protect and care for her. Some men have taken that to the extreme of letting a woman they wanted and could have kept go, because another man would make her happier.
One of the trite truisms of love is that the other person’s happiness becomes more important than your own. That is why taking responsibility is love. You, and you alone, feel that the other person must be happy. When both of you feel this way you have a path to a solid and loving relationship.
May all of you find that solid path.