Dissecting Love

By: Roderick Reed
By: Roderick Reed

“Love, exciting and new. Come aboard, we are expecting you.” “I don’t think she’s in love anymore; she broke all my windows and knocked down my door.” Or, “they said they’d split it all down the middle, but she got the better half. She got the goldmine and I got the shaft.”

My son asked once why are songs only about love. I replied because love is something everyone thinks they know something about. With Valentine’s Day approaching the topic of love had me thinking of all the great lyrics about love. The second two sets of lyrics at the start of this week’s column are from Charley Pride and Jerry Reed. Country guys have great humor about the ups and downs of love.

Other folks sing about weird love, remember the hit song “Muskrat Love” by The Captain and Tennille? “And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed, floatin’ like the heavens above. It looks like muskrat love.”

Why are songwriters so committed to the topic of love? There are other things to make music about.  Some of the topics like riding waves, fast cars, etc. seems to have taken a backseat to love.

John Lennon’s “Woman” and Willie Nelsons’ “Always on my Mind” are two of the best at capturing the true essence of love in my opinion.

Musicians try to explain love, but what is it? For all the people who think they know something about love many, many more search “what is love.” It is Google’s most popular search.

Psychotherapist Phillppa Perry gives us this insight. Unlike us, the ancients did not lump all the various emotions that we label “love” under the one word. They had several variations.

They saw philia as a deep non-sexual intimacy between close friends and family members or as a deep bond forged by soldiers as they fought alongside each other in battle. Ludusdescribes a more playful affection found in fooling around or flirting, Pragma is the mature love that develops over a long period of time between long-term couples and involves actively practicing goodwill, commitment, compromise and understanding. Agape is a more generalized love; it’s not about exclusivity but about love for all of humanity. Philautia is self-love, which isn’t as selfish as it sounds. As Aristotle discovered, in order to care for others you need to be able to care about yourself. Last, and probably least even though it causes the most trouble, eros is about sexual passion and desire. Unless it morphs into philia and/or pragma, eros will burn itself out.

A physicist, Jim Al-Khalilli, explains that in true love, the brain can release a whole set of chemicals: pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin. However, from an evolutionary perspective, love can be viewed as a survival tool, a mechanism we have evolved to promote long-term relationships, mutual defense and parental support of children and to promote feelings of safety and security.

I might explain love like a caffeinated inner joy that stays with you. It seems to me that once you have found it your life changes. The profound connection you can make with another person makes life have meaning; it cannot easily be explained except with the word love. Love can be described by knowing someone so well that even their faults are charming. You know everything about one another and embrace it. You have a confidant.

Why do we love, love? Maybe It’s simply having someone to share time on this planet with. One of the joys of marriage is watching each other evolve over time and celebrating it with one another. When there is a great sunset over the beach it’s nice to look at it, but it’s amplified when you have someone to share the experience with.

Life is short. Love is knowing that the young person you married way back when will be at your side when you are too old to remember each other’s names .You are still in love as your wrinkled faces drool on one another during cuddled sleep.

If you are seeking love, how do you know when you have found it?

“Love is a lot like a backache. It doesn’t show up on x-rays, but you know it when you have it.” — George Burns

Roderick Reed owns REEDesign Interiors in Laguna Beach. He lives in town with his wife Kathy and two sons Mason and Jack. http://roderickreed.com/.

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