Flowers, chocolate, cards and dinner at a restaurant – usually one that carries some sentimental attachment – top the list of Valentine’s Day gifts. There are many other means of expressing one’s love or simple affection, but the most powerful has to be words.
Words are the currency of Valentine’s Day whereas gifts are those of Christmas.
So, what do you say to make Feb. 14 special? It’s not easy. “I love you” is the bedrock, but like the stone sculptor’s raw material, is without life until worked. Authors have made a vocation of telling stories that capture the elusiveness and power of love. And if you’re wondering what love stories you might read, fiction specialist Kevin Broccoli at Mohr Library in Johnston has plenty of suggestions. A sampling of his list appears in today’s Lifestyle section.
But what is love and what’s the best way to express it?
We decided to search.
It took Google 0.15 seconds to come up with the answer. More accurately, not “the answer,” but 4.1 billion hits.
Not only have many people pondered the question, but they have also come up with something that has found its way to the Internet. On the top of the list was Haddaway – What Is Love – You Tube. A four-minute video song says it all, although we didn’t take the time to find out.
Next in the lineup was an essay by Gila Manolson. It quotes Erich Fromm who in his treatise “The Art of Loving,” wrote, "There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love."
That surely puts a chill on romance and the spirit of Valentines.
Fortunately, Manolson goes on to find other definitions.
“To the Jewish mind, it isn't unexpected at all. What we value most in ourselves, we value most in others. God created us to see ourselves as good (hence our need to either rationalize or regret our wrongdoings). So, too, we seek goodness in others. Nice looks, an engaging personality, intelligence and talent (all of which count for something) may attract you, but goodness is what moves you to love.”
We stopped there and went back to Google’s 10 first hits: Wikipedia was listed, but we didn’t open it (too many un-attributed sources).
Jeremy Griffith, whose thumbnail picture was next to his posting, offered, “What is love? Love is unconditional selflessness.” Not bad, but what has a selfless lover to give a selfless love? There had to be an answer.
Below Jeremy were images of his idea of what love is. They included a heart made up of words defining love, and the word “LOVE” in all capitals, describing the traits of love that, when clicked on, brought you to a Christian website.
The third picture was of a rose.
There was no need to click on it.
If you are not a sculptor, songwriter, musician, artist or poet, flowers say it best.