Forward Living Column: Love is a many-splendored mystery

I’ve been thinking about the word love, and why not? We’ve been blitzed with Valentine’s Day hype since January. I’m as romantic as the next girl and, surely, roses from Frank are always welcome. Methinks, however, Cupid may be a tad annoyed that Valentine’s Day has become a profit-making business.

Although love is an emotion we all feel, its meaning can be perplexing. I was surprised to learn that English has but one word for the different nuances of love. Professing love for my computer or my red shoes is certainly not the same love I feel for Frank or my kids. For argument’s sake, I’m gonna stick to this definition of love: “The profoundly tender emotion we feel for another person.”

Love has a long history dating back to biblical times. We’re all familiar with these romantic twosomes: Adam and Eve, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Ceil and Frank, and so on.

Love songs have been written since ancient times and they continue to dominate the music scene today. Romance-themed movies — aka “chick flicks” —  are a popular genre. Many gals attend chick flicks together to have a good time crying.

The sheer number of romance novels is mind-boggling. They can range from Harlequin romances to “Jane Eyre.” Love poems and sonnets are in abundance. King Solomon wrote the “Song of Songs,” found in the Old Testament, which extols the virtues of love. Even Shakespeare got into the act and wrote 154 love sonnets.

I suppose, then, the adage “Love makes the world go round” has merit. This brings me to my burning question: Is the word love overused or underused?

Years ago, I had a friend who was married to a seemingly nice guy. He spent long hours in the office and provided well for his family. From my vantage point (and my friend’s) theirs was an ideal marriage.

Deciding to surprise him at his office one day, she was shocked to discover that he had left for the day. She did a little detective work and … you can guess the rest. With mascara running down her cheeks, she revealed to me that he never missed a chance to say, “I love you.”

Ending a telephone conversation with a casual “Love you” is in vogue today. Certainly, many of us mean it, while others may speak empty words. Ironically, the “love you” folks are sometimes missing in action when trouble strikes.

The expressions “Love ya” or “Love U” are added ad nauseam at the end of an e-mail.

Alternatively, there are the silent folk. Here’s a typical dialogue that may sound familiar:

He/she asks, “Do you love me?”

“You know I do, why do you ask?”

“Because you never say it.”

“But you know I do.”

Couples who are together for some time may get comfortable with each other. Saying these three little words can seem unimportant and, for sure, it’s not always the assertion of love that speaks the loudest. Saying “I love you” is a great and effective aphrodisiac.

Deathbed guilt is the worst. The coulda, woulda, shoulda trio can ravage your emotions. Yet, sadly, one of the most prevalent regrets heard is, “I should have said ‘I love you’ more often.”

Scientists have proved that there is a thin line between love and hate. The same brain chemistry is involved in both emotions. It’s like: Sometimes you feel love; sometimes you don’t. Huh? Better leave it to the scientists.

So, is the word love overused or underused? Alas, I’ve drawn no conclusions. Perhaps, it just depends on the circumstance and the source, or maybe it’s a moot question. Hmm. I’m going with the latter.

But hold on! I do know a reliable source that says, “Love is patient, love is kind.” Maybe this is all we need to know.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

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