Saturday, September 22, 2007

"I Love You"


What does it mean when someone says, “I love you”? I suppose it depends on who’s uttering those cherished words and to whom. Is it a lover? A friend? A mate? A relative? Is that love, in turn, carnal, tender, warm, sweet, spiritual or divine? Or ALL of these?...

I certainly have a good idea what my dearest husband means when he says to me, “I love you.” Those cherished words that we’ve uttered to one another many a time (I’m thankful to say) have grown to mean different things over the almost twenty years we’ve been married and grown together. I’m reminded of lines from my own book, “Darwin’s Paradox” that describe our relationship quite well. In Chapter Five, Daniel, Julie’s husband reflects that: “…their love had grown and tempered from a tumultuous brook into a rich deep river as their bond cemented. Fiercely independent and stubborn, like him, she’d overcome many obstacles through cooperation and co-reliance. Despite her reserved nature she’d learned that they complemented each other and could rely on him.” My husband is, in many ways, my Daniel…the compass of my heart. And together, we've created an "angel", my son...

In the alternate historical SF I’m currently writing, my character François explains to the main protagonist, Vivianne, what expressing love means:

When a man first says he loves a woman what he means is he wants to sleep with her; when a woman first says she loves a man she’s really asking him to be faithful and not fool around with anyone else. When a man says it a second time, usually in bed with her, he usually means ‘stay with me and let’s have never-ending glorious sex’; when a woman says it for the second time she’s usually really saying ‘I want to get married and have your children.’ They’re not the same; and yet they’re not so different when you think about it.” François opened his eyes and stared at Vivianne’s deep eyes. “When they say it to each other the third time they mean the same thing: ‘I truly love you, mind, body and soul…spiritually, carnally and forever.’ ”

What does it mean, then, if a woman says it to another woman? Or a child to an adult? Or a colleague to another, even? Dictionaries tend to define love as deep affection or fondness. In a poll by the Institute of Human Thermodynamics in Chicago the most favored definitions of love involved altruism, selflessness, friendship, union, family, and connecting to one another. The theologian, Thomas Jay Oord defined love as acting intentionally, in sympathetic response to others (including God) to promote overall well-being. God’s influence, says Oord, precedes each moment of our existence, through the inspiration and empowerment of divine grace.

And what does it mean NOT to say those words? I love my older brother who has been my protector and my hero since…well, since I was born, I suppose; even though he steered me wrong about my origins (see my profile on the sidebar). Yet, we have never uttered the words, “I love you” to one another…I must rectify that when I visit him next month.

Love is an all-powerful balm, a healer of the soul. It has the power to move and create all manner of things; biologically, spiritually and mentally. Even ideas, borne of love, may soar Heavenward on wings of exalted truth, once tapped into the “collective consciousness” of our living fabric. Genius. Creativity. Integrity. Honor. Courage. These are all expressions of love. Two lovers embracing…a skier executing that perfect line…an environmental consultant giving the right advice even if it means losing the contract…a climber struggling to reach the peak of Everest…a scientist discovering a new cure…

I am convinced that all great and noble acts begin and end in love. Let us never shy from saying these precious words to one another…and affirming why we are here.


For all it’s worth and all it means, I love you, Karen.

3 comments:

Steven said...

I like your insights with new lovers. I think you're right-on. That little phrase has to be one of the most misunderstood, misused and yet most important three words we ever utter.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Love has so many meanings, Nina. It depends on the two involved. They can be friends, lovers or parents and children. Love is an expression of feeling.

sfgirl said...

Isn't it? Yes, so important, Steve. And so many meanings, Jean-Luc. And all wonderful. Thanks for sharing.