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Jun 8th 2016

Third place: Have You Ever Been in Love

Neal S. Robinette, United States

Third place in EssayMama Spring Essay Writing Contest 2016

When I was a little girl, I used to get lost in fairytales, which always ended with "... and they lived happily ever after." As most other girls, I wanted to find my prince who would faithfully and unconditionally love me, and we would live happily ever after. The only problem is: I wasn't thinking about the way I would love him. No story imposed a standard about the unconditional love I would have to feel for my man. I had to figure out that for myself as I was growing up. As I matured more and more, I realized that fairy tales were really just myths with no connection to reality. Whenever I thought I loved someone, something had to happen and that idealistic impression of love would get destroyed over and over again. Over time, I started thinking that people get together only because of interest, as well as for their biological urge to reproduce. However, lately my complete understanding of love has been changed. Love should not be limited to a single person and it should not be identified to physical attraction. Love is universal feeling that gets deeper and deeper as you work on yourself. You start by loving yourself, and you spread that emotion to the environment, the people who are close to you, animals, and the entire humanity. Yes, I believe that I'm on my way to being deeply, truly in love with life.

The Song of Songs is the ultimate celebration of the love between two lovers. In its ideal form, love brings the partners in harmony. They desire each other and they praise each other. They are never oppressive and it seems like this type of love could never fade away. When two people fall in love, they mysteriously change. No matter how hard they are trying to preserve their individuality, their personalities expand and they start making the most important decisions together. When people are young, they get so madly in love that they don't notice anything around them. They cannot study, they cannot focus on the lectures, and they act as if they've lost their direction in life. No matter how lost young people are when they fall in love, I believe that true love is extremely rare during the teenage years. We have all liked someone when we were young, but those feelings were mostly influenced by their reputation and appearance. Deep, true love is something different.

As I grew older, I understood that the true love for a partner was not based on physical attraction. There is a high degree of sentimental and emotional connection, as well as a need to help that person to achieve the most important goals in life. Selfless love is not solely an emotion; it's an act. Our feelings are always manifested through our actions, so love makes us willing to support the other person. That kind of love is extremely rare and you cannot feel it for everyone you're physically attracted to. My early perception of love was only a possessive urge, which was often based on crushing the dreams of the partner just to have him near me. Such attitude inevitably resulted with a "love tragedy" and a broken heart. Over time, I understood that the broader concept of honest interpersonal relationships involved caring for the normal human needs and happiness of the other person.

When two people love each other, that doesn't mean they don't fight. In my opinion, quarrels are sometimes useful, because their heat burns down all misunderstandings that have been building up between the partners. After such a productive quarrel, the mutual explanations and confessions come to stage. As a result, we get the feeling of complete clarity and ability to communicate more clearly than ever. That realization crushed the myth of ideal love, which was influenced by the fairytales of my childhood.

All these concepts only work in stories. However, true love exists and I am convinced in that, although it's much different than the assumptions we usually make before experiencing it. I cannot define true love towards a partner, but I have felt it and I feel it more and more by the day. However, it all started by learning to love and appreciate myself. After a lot of work on myself, I learned how to expand that wave in concentric circles. I understood that my love for someone was supposed to be intense and passionate, but not oppressive or limiting in any way. I also realized that the love for someone changes throughout the years. If it is genuine, pure and sincere, the emotion turns into something more sublime. Some people call it a habit, but I compare it to good wine; it becomes better with the years and its taste is long-lasting.

The love between partners is only one of the aspects that define this emotion. Dostoevsky managed to capture the point of true love with these words: "Love every leaf, every ray of light. Love the animals, love the plants, love each separate thing. If thou love each thing thou wilt perceive the mystery of God in all; and when once thou perceive this, thou wilt thenceforward grow every day to a fuller understanding of it: until thou come at last to love the whole world with a love that will then be all - embracing and universal." The concept of universal love is what we should all strive for. I can say I'm deeply, madly in love with someone, but that doesn't mean I've experienced true love until I start expanding that emotion further.

We all carry hidden greatness inside of us. When we search deep inside ourselves, we can find that greatness and it will shine through our noble actions of love and kindness. Jealousy and possessiveness, as aspects of the ego, completely disappear when we get in touch with that inner part. When we get rid of them, only then we can feel and express love in its purest form. I cannot say that I'm there yet, but I am on a lifetime journey to discovering and spreading true, universal love.

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