Is love ever in the air, especially as Valentine’s Day approaches? Does it hang, unseen, unheard, yet felt with a deepness that sinks right to the bottom of the heart? Sages and laymen have lamented, lost, or found themselves in love. But yet, the million-dollar question almost always remains – What is love?
Shattering all definitions or perhaps, not having one, love takes different forms and shapes. And it does so through different people, beings, and in myriad ways. We all have our very own understanding of what love entails. Yet, somehow, as the warmth of February approaches, the Valentine peeps. And then love is quite literally in the air, (through radio waves or so) on online platforms, the media, and in tangible spaces, such as malls, restaurants, and maybe in the buzz of conversations at friend and cousin gatherings.
The growth of love
However, the context and review of love change. It changes with time, surroundings, and circumstances. It rather evolves from giggly girls and bashing boys, to mature stories of everlasting care. Sometimes, it grows through the years, while on some days it just snaps either way in a matter of minutes. There are times when you know the moment is love, and at times, love is in all moments of life. I could go on, but perhaps who am I to restrict love within boundaries of words and sentences. And then again, if not understood in the little and big things, then love is no longer understood.
So we try to bring to you what often misses out on being counted as love. Is it just about flowers, chocolates, and hugs? Or standing by each other in times of joy and ordeal? In nurturing and caring or in reprimanding for good? Or are there finer, little meanings that get slipped through the cracks, unnoticed in the huge sea of the boundless feeling called love? Well, there are and we intend to dig these out!
Love is unconditional. Standard protocol for sure. But not many truly understand what it means to love unconditionally. It may not always add up to one-sided or worse insane redemption of love, as portrayed in films etc. And it is definitely not about giving up things you eat or wear for the ‘sake’ and ‘liking’ of the other. In fact, it is quite contrary. To eat, wear, go, make friends and do what makes you happy without the guilt of shame or the defiance of rebellion is unconditional love. When you let your child pursue a career that you do not think much of, is love. When you are equally proud of your friend who may be a scientist, cook or a simpleton is love. For finding beauty in no matter what your partner wears or does, to each enjoying their favorite meal together is love. To not expect your children to look after you just because you did so when they were young is also unconditional love.
The cornerstone is – love is an instant payback. You get back as much or even more at that very moment. When you spend a sleepless night with a child, the hugs and cuddles and trust of the kid are the remuneration of your love. Listening to old stories from elders is giving and taking both love and knowledge. If you acknowledge the right of someone to be with anyone or do anything that makes them happy, their instant often unsaid gratification is love. A smile, relief in the eyes, a simple thank you, and a shy nod of the head – all are signs of love and love being paid back.
It’s about us
To cut short all the Sooraj Barjatya family dramas of ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’ – love is about togetherness. No, I don’t mean you go singing around in a bus or sacrifice your home and self-esteem. But love is looking out for each other. Going up to say hello to a nervous newcomer at work is love. Allowing a person some privacy to shed a few tears alone is also love. Knowing when to back off when someone seems upset is as much love as knowing when to hug someone. To share pain and happiness without judgment, no matter if it is for family, friends, neighbors or even people you read about in news/social media is love.
Also, when it comes to society or a group, love becomes baseless without respect. Not bullying, but respecting differences is love. You could be a Muslim celebrating Christmas with a Hindu at the home of a Parsi. Or when you choose to respect the right of a woman to wear a hijab, as much as the right of a Hindu to apply the tilak, it’s love. This is inclusivity, but it is also love. Love is when you stand in solidarity with the people you know as persons and not as labels, castes, gender, or vocations. It is love that makes you say a silent prayer of hope when you watch an accident on the road. And it is love that fills the air when you hold someone you are about to lose.
People, animals, and things
You can fall in love with people, animals, or things. Or with memories or imagination. Flicking an ant lightly away instead of crushing it is love. Making sure the stray cat has milk to drink is love. Love is when you treasure your 16th birthday card even when you are 45 years old. It is perhaps love that stops you from throwing away things because they remind you of someone. And again, it is also love, when you give away those very things to let go.
Me and myself
Love is also loving the ‘me’. Unless you love yourself, chances of spreading love are pretty bleak. So you made mistakes, you were horrible at doing things that others do perfectly well. So what if you can’t do XYZ or splendidly do them as well. That feeling of a slight skip in the heart when you achieve a little something (like not burning the cake or finally getting to clean your cupboard) is love. It is love when you tell yourself you can be better. Love is when you not only aim for the stars but also learn and explore a bit about them along the way.
What love is not?
It may be difficult to know what love is. But often, it is easier to know what it is not. Love is not a burden. It is not a legacy that is passed from one generation to another. It is not an excuse to allow inappropriate behavior, ranging from tantrums to eves teasing and stalking. Love is not policing or a possession. Love is empowerment. It is acceptance, encouragement and appreciation. And so on this Valentine’s Day, we tell you to shower love. And see, believe and live through it always.
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