Love is one of the most frequently used, over-simplified, overcapitalized, most objectified, and often abused word in the human language. And yet in spite of, or perhaps because of that, it is never over-rated. To love, simply, is to be alive. Whether that form take on the agape version of the ancient Greeks, or the idealistic never failing, never ceasing, patient, and non-self-seeking version of Paul—it is by far the greatest testament to existence and creation there is. It is of course no surprise then that humans have been obsessed with portraying this ecstasy of emotion for thousands of years. Whether through song, dance, art, poetry or literature, love—is one of those rare things that never goes out of style.
Love stories of course are some of the greatest stories of all time. But when I say “love story” I do not simply mean romance. While romantic love is one of the most potent forms of love—the emotion is too great, and too central to human existence to be simplified to just that form. There is familial-love, particularly parental-love, or patriotic-love. And most significantly, friendship-love which is in my opinion, the most underrated expression of this emotion.
If you were to look at certain works of literature like the classic Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or the contemporary, cultural, and complex female bond seen in The Joy Luck Club, you can see the powerful dynamic that can exist between people. And if you are a film buff, and proud eighties baby like me, then you know of those film greats like, Stand By Me, Beaches, Steel Magnolias, Pretty In Pink (or most of Molly Ringwald’s movies in the 80s—I so am a Duckie and Andie fan!). What made those films, and others like them so great, was that they showed the power of love between friends to overcome personal obstacles, as well as mature, develop and grow as human beings. For me, the true love that exists between friends is one of the highest forms of love there is. When you become romantically involved with someone, you shouldn’t aspire to be “more than friends” but the greatest of friends.
Of course, in terms of romance—that speaks volumes. From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (which is my least favorite of his plays) or a modern day romance author like Nora Roberts, the love jones, is clearly the rock-star of love. Nicholas Sparks for me is one of the best, as he is both deeply sentimental, but never cheesy (The Notebook-I HEART big time, both film and book form). However, if I were to pick my favorite “romance” novel (and it is not actually classified that way) it would be Memoirs of a Geisha. It is because it deals with both the business of selling “love” and the pursuit of actually obtaining it. This juxtaposition showcases the pain, suffering, faith, hope, and patience that is involved in this most complex of emotions. And when you think of all the definitions of love and what makes it great, it really boils down to all of those things. Love is pain and suffering because it involves the greatest depth of emotion. Love is faith, because it requires us to believe, and it is hope because it makes us dream of the sublime when faith falters. And the truest form is patient. This patience allows us to endure when we thought we couldn’t remain committed or when we are tempted away; firm against distraction and boredom; and strong when we feel we’ve reached our breaking point. It is for this reason that throughout time, the human race has always been madly in love with love. For in reality, what greater story can there be.