What is Love?

Categories Lifestyle

My dear friends of the interwebs

Today I feel inspired by love.

That love that made Emperor Shah Jahan of India to build the Taj Mahal, a monument that took twenty two years and twenty two thousand workers to build, as a memorial and resting place of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth.

That love that made British Lord Maurice Egerton build, in ten years, a majestic castle in Nakuru, Kenya to impress the love of his life, an Austrian lady whom he had deeply loved for seven years and to whom he wished to become engaged. He built it after she refused to stay in his six-bedroomed house, saying it was too small for a person of royalty like her.

That love that made Jared Otieno to land in Meru with several choppers and a huge motorcade of expensive cars to pay dowry for his girlfriend and later spent lots of money in a colourful wedding ceremony.

That love that made a Ms. Laura Akunga-Muriithi to give her husband ten million shillings for his birthday. Or the one that made Beyonce to buy a private jet for her husband Jay in commemoration of fathers day. Or the one that made Akothee to buy her daughters expensive cars for their birthdays.

But what is love? While the English language has only one word for it, the Greeks in their pursuit of self-understanding, found eight different varieties of love that we all experience at some point.

  1. Eros or Erotic love
    This love is named after the Greek god of love and fertility. Eros is passionate and intense love that arouses romantic feelings and sexual desire. It, however, does not last long.
  2. Philia or Affectionate love
    Philia love, or friendship, is just love between equals, shared goodwill. Such as companions who have endured some hard times together. Mutual companionship, dependability and trust with no physical attraction.
  3. Storge or Familiar love
    It closely resembles philia in that there is no physical attraction, but it refers to the fondness born out of familiarity or dependency such as the love amongst family members or people who have known each other for a relatively long time. It is a natural form of affection that flows between parents and their children, and vice versa. It is the love that knows forgiveness, acceptance and sacrifice. It is unconditional. It can also be found around childhood friends.
  4. Ludus or Playful love
    This is playful or uncommitted love, such as the affection between young lovers, “players”. The focus is on fun. The feeling we go through during the early stages of falling in love with someone, flirting, teasing, dancing and seducing. The relationships are casual, undemanding and with no strings attached.
  5. Mania or Obsessive love
    Is a type of love that leads a partner into a type of madness and obsessiveness. It occurs when there is imbalance between eros and ludus. It is experienced by partners with little self esteem, who want to be loved so that they can find a sense of self-value. They can become very possessive and jealous, feeling as though they desperately need their partners.
  6. Pragma or Enduring love
    This is a love that has aged, matured and developed overtime. It is beyond the physical, it has transcended emotions, and is a unique harmony that has formed over time. It is the true commitment that comes from understanding, patience, compromise and tolerance, such as in married couples who have been together for a long time, or in friendships that have endured for decades. Unfortunately, pragma is rare. Unlike the other types of love, pragma is the result or effort on both sides.
  7. Philautia or Self love
    The Greeks understood that in order to care for others, we must first learn to care for ourselves. This is self-love can be healthy or unhealthy. It can be unhealthy when it leads to an inflated sense of one’s abilities, status, or accomplishments when accompanied by arrogance and self-obsession that is focused on personal fame, gain and fortune. We can only love others if we truly love ourselves and we can only care for others if we truly care for ourselves. That is the healthy self-love. You cannot share what you do not have.
  8. AGAPE or selfless love
    This is universal love, such as the love for strangers, nature or God. It is a selfless unconditional love, love that accepts the recipients regardless of their flaws and shortcomings. It has infinite empathy, such as God’s love for us. A love that gives without expecting anything in return. It is pure and it comes straight from the heart.

So, yes, love is just a word, until somebody comes and gives it meaning. Just like in the above varieties of love, and also in the love stories of Emperor Shah, Lord Egerton, Jared Otieno, Akothee and the others.

And yes, it is great to display your love with everything you’ve got: time, attention, money, patience, bodily and mentally. It is also great to express the depth of your feelings by speaking romantic and poetic words.

After all is said and done, it is clear that when one falls in love, the brain wakes up and becomes more creative and energetic than usual. That people have more capacity when they are in love to go further in expression, whether physical or spiritual.

I am an epic introvert, who quickly becomes an open book when I pen what’s in my significantly fertile mind; fertile as a result of bombardment by realities that are continuously captured by my inquisitive eyes, ears which are constantly rubbing the ground, through constant reading, and through dreaming too.

Writing provides an opportunity to ‘say’ what my unapologetic quiet mouth will not say; which not only soothes me, but also bequeaths to me a relief, a release, and a hope that the written words will change the world, even if only one person at a time.

And so should you seek, that’s where to find me; deeply tucked inside the blankets of reading, seeing, listening, dreaming, and then writing.

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