Love is ..., Like a Lot of Things You Know

When singers at the jam at Avo's last Wednesday night started a beautiful harmony on a slow love song, I sat out at a table with friends so my banjo wouldn't interfere. "Hey Mike," said Seymour Sharpe, "You ought to write your next column about Love and Valentine's Day."

"You want some sappy blather about chocolates and butterflies," I answered, "or some sickeningly sweet poem about falling head over heels?"

"It wouldn't have to be sweet," said Sloan Down, an old man who didn't want his electric bones clacking through the sweet melody. "You could make it come from an inept suitor. Your lips are as red as poisonous berries, and I love you as much as a housefly loves garbage."

"I don't believe that quite captures the essence of love," I said. "But I have been thinking about how the word 'love' encompasses too much. There's love for a spouse, for a child, for a mother. There's brotherly love, and loving chocolates and having a dog that loves you. And you can love life. And then there's the love Jesus and Muhammad and other prophets had for mankind. Love means too many things to too many people. We need more words for it like how the Eskimos have 30 words for snow."

"They're called Inuit now," Seymour said.

"I heard they have different words for snow that's falling and snow that's like a fog and snow that's blowing and snow that's laying on the ground," said Sue Forebucks as she tuned her slide ukulele. "They have words for old snow, and cold snow that squeaks, and newfallen snow that sparkles in the moonlight."

"Exactly," I said. "Seems like we need different verbs for loving God and loving to watch the Broncos win the Super Bowl."

"Don't mix examples," said Seymour. "One of those is merely religious and one is truly divine."

"Oh you mean we should use 'adore' or 'like' or 'fondness' for some different relationships?" suggested Sue.

"Or even come up with new words for new categories," I said. "Some people like to split it into sexual and non-sexual such as love for a spouse or for a child or parent, except that doesn't seem inclusive enough. Besides love between people, there is love for animals, and for inanimate objects like pictures, and even for actions like reading or football."

"Well you have to be precise on what it is you're categorizing," said Seymour. "Love isn't always a verb. You can be in love without having to make love."

"And you can't make someone love you," said Sloan, "no matter how hard you try." His throat caught, but none of us wanted hear his story of forsaken love again.

"That's for sure," I said. "True love can only be offered unconditionally."

"I think love is a gift that often gives itself back," said Sue. "I can give my love to my husband, to my children, to my parents, even to my friends here at the jam. And if I'm strong enough, I can keep giving it with no return like the Bible says. But when they return feelings, my own capacity for loving is increased."

"You're saying love feeds off itself," I said. "And given the religious assertion that God created the world through love, then maybe we are correct in identifying the many varieties of love as just individual snowflakes in the same blizzard. Oh well, I would have loved to write about love, but I guess I'll just settle for picking 'Love Is a Rose.' See ya." I joined the jam.