Nada Gordon has called for definitions of love. Here's an attempt by me found recently in a small notebook, probably written about 1986.
Labor of Love
Everyone has a philosophy of love whether not they have articulated it- and most have at one time or another defined it for themselves or even for others. Most people, however, learn to love the way they learn most other things, by mimicry. This leads to endless complications, many comical, some tragic. For practical reasons, we mostly learn about love on the field of battle, so to speak. It is a terrifying fact that most of us learn through bitter experience the (empty) truth of the phrase, "All's fair in love and war." This is a cynical formula, however, that forgives a thousand blunders and not a few cruelties. It is an allibi that should be reserved for courts and similar forums for determinations of guilt and innocence. In our time it has become a *modus operandi* and this is not so much wrong as it is disastrous. There has to be another way. We are all fools in love and we should learn, particularly in the process of satisfying our appetites, to be as kind to others as possible. I realize this is very difficult at times, and that it is human nature to take what we can get. But the field of love takes us to the heart of human relationships, and in this arena, great vulnerabilities go hand in hand with great possibilities. In pragmatic terms, love may be defined simply. To love is to return. It is in this sense that hate is not the opposite of love, but is the result of exhausted love. Indifference is the opposite of love.
To love is to return because love is what holds things together. Meister Eckhart is reputed to have said: "Even stones have a love. A love that seeks the ground."
There are so many things, people and forces that we are pulled apart. How is a relationship to survive under such circumstances? There are so many delicious experiences available, and in this desert of daily life it is no wonder we develop a powerful "sweet tooth" early on.
If to love is to return, how do we return? The word carries with it a pristine halo which, for everyday use, won't stay on. Better to store it with your greatest treasures in your desk or jewelry box because in everyday life it will get scratched at best, or be bent out of shape at worst. Love's halo is a brief experience which has the function of a mild to powerful intoxicant or anaesthetic as the case may be. Perhaps it is best to learn to wear it, if at all, with a sense of humor, love's most durable guardian by far.