Is love a noun, something you simply feel, something that just is? Is love something that exists of and by itself, that springs fully formed when “across a crowded room” you spot your true love, the one you just know is your soulmate for life? Do our hearts always know before our brains?
Or is love a verb, a way of being, of acting? More something you do, something you create? Do loving actions, the verb, eventually lead to love, the feeling, the noun?
Or is it, as usual, a bit of both? Some minimum level of attraction or compatibility provides the fertile soil (love the noun) for the seed of love (love the verb) to sprout? No matter how fertile the soil, somehow the seed must find its way to get there. And once there, watering and weeding and sunlight all nourish growth. And if all these action verbs are not absolutely necessary for mere stunted survival, certainly they help achieve the most bountiful blooms, the strongest trunk, and the tallest growth.
Love is both a noun and a verb. If you do truly love someone, it behooves you to learn how to love him or her well, not just strong. As time has gone by and relationships have become ever more important to me (and I’ve worked to learn from my mistakes), my relationship tool box has grown. The tools inside are more sophisticated and my skill in wielding them has increased. While my wife will tell you, and she is right, that I still have lots to learn and even more to unlearn and let go of, I’d like to think the trajectory is upward.
“Love is the willingness to extend one’s self (i.e. do the work) for the purpose of one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” — M. Scott Peck, “The Road Less Traveled”
“For one human being to love another that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof; the work for which all other work is but preparation.” — Rainer Maria Rilke, German poet
“One must sow love to reap love. But only by daily cultivation will the harvest be abundant.” — Unknown
“Many people believe that they understand the cliché, ‘love takes work.’ The question is, do they truly understand the meaning of ‘love takes work’? You will know that you are working at your relationship when you want to run away in frustration, but you stay and talk with your partner—not just once, but repeatedly.” — Paul Mauchline
“The course of true love never did run smooth.” — William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Lysander to Hermia, Act 1, Scene 1