Issue 102 / November - December 2014
I had been asked to talk about love at a gathering right after Valentine's Day. I thought about this talk for a month. I could not find anything to say. It is so hard to talk about love - it can't be described, understood, limited, or defined by borders. We are all born with a need to love and be loved; we never outgrow it. We don't always know how it works, just like bees making honey unaware of the chemical composition of the miraculous sweetness. We can't explain love with physics. Einstein said gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love. We say love is blind, but we give so much importance to clothes, make up, and accessories. We say our heart is broken, but we continue to love. We would not drink out of a cracked glass, but just as we would not give up drinking water if all the glasses were broken, our broken heart still carries the water of life. Besides, maybe we should keep getting it broken until it really opens up.
Love is the bond between all things - the light and life of existence. We love ourselves, our families, the place we live, our nation, living things, the world, and the whole universe. We feel pleasure when people we love are happy, and we feel pain at their pain. Sometimes it is hard to see something as so valuable or wonderful, particularly when there is plenty of it to go around or when it happens all the time. We forget that every healthy baby born is a miracle. We are surprised by one that has seven toes, not the ones who are perfect. How many of us are grateful every time we swallow something, take a breath, sleep or even go to the bathroom? If somebody loses sleep, or loses a kidney, then they know how good it was when they had it. Maybe sometimes we should think in the negative to see how it is right now.
For instance, let's assume there wasn't love in the world. Just think: nobody loved their spouses, their kids, their jobs, their country, employees, students, or friends. The trees feed themselves with muddy water, but feed their kids (fruit) with sugar, milk, and honey. What if they didn't? What if they just became selfish? What if God didn't love us? Didn't listen to our prayers, and punished us with every little mistake we made? Would the sun still come up and smile at us in the morning? Would rain fall to give life to soil? Maybe not... The sun loves the plants, the plants love the sun. Animals like plants, and we love all of them. Love connects everything and everybody together. It forms families, turns a job or a class into fun, and makes labor pains bearable. It makes this big, scary, dark world, a home.
Whose faults do you see more clearly - those you love or those you don't love? Doesn't love hide all flaws and even turn flaws into something you might love later?
If I had to make a recipe for love, I would add more compassion than passion. Lots of relationships start with passionate love, but they will last longer when there is compassion. Love is not always looking at each other; sometimes it is simply looking in the same direction.
Our nature consists of a body and a soul. The body is to the soul what a purse is to the gold it holds. It is the spirit that matters, not the body. When the soul leaves the body, they do not let it stay at home. They bury it quickly. Our bodies are like a torch. Our reason, knowledge, and love are the light coming out of it. They light up our way. Remember that the two containers in us, the mind and the heart, never fill up. The more you learn, the more you can learn; the more you love, the more you can love. Our souls can also be compared to a pool. Our behaviors, habits, our five senses, and what we see, hear, and feel with them are like taps filling it up. What is in the pool depends on what flows from the taps. What do you want to fill it with? Love, hate, gossip, prayer, nice words, apps? You pick...
Love is the greatest motivator of all time. The wind and the sun argue about who is the strongest. The wind points to a guy on the street and says it will make the man lose his jacket. However, the mightier it blows, the harder the guy holds on to his jacket. When the sun shows its face, he takes it off willingly. Love and fear are two very strong feelings. You can make your kids eat healthy and you can make your students study; you can make your employees work hard and, in general, you can make people do things by intimidating them with harsh words, but this motivation is temporary. When you are not looking, they will go back to their old ways. But if it is in their heart, if they love it, you don't have to be watching them all the time.
It is impossible to for me to not remember Rumi, the heart of the circle of guidance of his time, when thinking about love. People from all religions were drawn to him like spiritual butterflies drawn to light. He has been titled, "The Sultan of Lovers." His is divine love, a fiery one with constant longing. During separation, he burns with fire. He shows no discontent though, because of the requirement for passion. Refraining from complaint is a sign of loyalty towards the beloved. For him, death is like a festival; it is a means for unity with the loved one. Rumi unifies the love of God with the love of humanity. He came to the conclusion that to love humans is to love God. A Turkish saying - we love all creation for we love the Creator - works in parallel with this.
Even if I don't know what to say about love, I hope I can at least feel it and spread it. I hope all of us have lives filled with infinite love. Love that will make us love more, that will help us to be better people, and to really feel that we are alive. As Rumi says, "Every mortal will taste death, but only some will taste life."
Balci holds M.S. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology. She is currently a Science teacher at Pinnacle Academy, VA.