When most young people I meet hear the word Love, they would often respond in a very interesting way. Teenagers smile gleefully, looking like a blooming flower. The space where we share this kind of conversation is now being charged by a subtle energy from the glow of their eyes. Their stiffness lightens with their chuckles, tensions are released from their muscles, and all of a sudden what was once a shy personality recoiled by strange encounter becomes an open field of connectedness. We suddenly become one with the other, converging in the center of shared experience – a bonfire lit up in the middle of dark and strange disconnection, and we begin to share the warmth and light of one encouraging truth: our profound desire to Love and be Loved.
This generation of youth – teenagers and young adults – from where I also belong is a generation seeking to understand more of their inner selves in relation to others and to the world. Love, Romance and Romantic Love are topics that tickle their funny bones, curious minds and excited hearts. In their juvenile adventures where their inner and outer worlds intersect, the rituals, norms, and implements of being in Love is a natural evolution. Inside their bodies, happily overwhelming hormones are raging like whitewater and cascading like waterfalls as they fall in Love. This is a perfect process happening in the wholeness of being human. This is the youthful beginning of their impulse to connect with others, to feel that they belong, that they are not separated but instead are truly connected despite material boundaries and biological separations. They express and fulfill connections – albeit romantically, through dating, marriage and sex. This mystery is as ancient as the Universe itself, but unfolds primarily as a simple reality in our relationships. We are bound to Love and be Loved.
We are bound to Love and be Loved.
Helen Fisher, an American anthropologist, in her book Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, discussed the process of investigating this phenomenon. Surveying thousands of couples across cultures and ages, she has mapped out the biochemistry and psychology of Romantic Love as a driving urge of humanity. Her study tells us that we are all wired to romantically Love, and despite our differences in languages and cultures separated by mentalities and geographic distances, Romantic Love is as natural as our breathing, an experience we truly share.
I am not anymore surprised to see how young people, budding in their capacity to understand Life, are immediately drawn to Love as a conversation topic. They are all synergized – nodding and smiling, along with asking and speaking about their personal experiences. Some of them are in Love, others are pained by their previous relationships, but they use them as an anchor to reexamine what Love is – why does it cause both pleasure and pain, why does it excites and bores us, and why does it have, as a virtue next to God, the most profound importance in our lives.
Writing about Love, Romance and Romantic Love is quite a cliché task because it could merely just add up to the pile of many writings that have talked about these topics. This attempt may echo the same themes and, to put it bluntly, may sound as if regurgitating what have been discussed by many authors and experts. But what is perennial and universal exhibits kaleidoscopic patterns – patterns that are intricate and colorful, and therefore novel and unique. Following this precise characteristic of natural patterns, I have come to proceed and write about Love – a topic so misconstrued that we are all being blessed and devastated by it. We see things differently, and as part of that myriad of perspective, I present Love in a renewed way.
Young people undergo a number of transformations in how they think, live and interact with others. They meet people, mingle with groups, learn many things, feel a wide range of emotions, find and establish and their identity. These changes show how Love plays a huge role in motivating them to discover their true selves and their reasons of why they grow and live. As a young person myself, I can relate and voice out my own perspective about this experience of Love, rummaging beneath its heavily tainted layers by our society’s definitions to allow its purely emanating essence from our human and divine nature.
I am not writing about Romance and Romantic Love alone, but working and exploring it as a platform upon which Love is expressed and known. As I have always told young people, to understand Love as opposed to Romance/Romantic Love is like differentiating an ocean from a raindrop. They are not different, for a raindrop and an ocean is both water in nature. They only differ by extent of their force and the magnitude of their volume. Love is oceanic, Romance/Romantic Love is just a raindrop. It does not mean that Love is supreme over Romance/Romantic Love, just as the ocean is not supreme over a raindrop. They are both the same, as far as their nature is concern; their difference lies in their capacity to nourish and “quench” our thirst for authentic expression of Life. If we only refer to Romance/Romantic Love as the sole resource of Love, we might miss a greater paradigm that Love demonstrates not just through romantic relationships but to all possibilities and opportunities that Life presents us. We are now bringing back that awareness.