I sat in my office this afternoon, taking advantage of a Saturday afternoon without co-workers or children or set plans. While I know others may have taken the free time to get a massage or watch a movie, I have had a wonderful day. Tunes blasting, items that have been sitting for far too long getting completed and plenty of time to just think. For those who laugh it off when I tell them I am in fact introverted, this is a great example of that. I just play extroverted on tv.
As my music streamed through my office, Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally” came on. Someone had sent that to me as a word to write about recently, so I’ll take that as a sign.
My first thought when I heard Perry’s song was “damn, girlfriend sure bounced back quickly.” I’m sure after getting dumped by her husband Russell Brand over text message - and having the whole world know about it - it would be a rather hard thing to have another go at it. And yet, there she is, singing about unconditionally loving her new man, John Mayer. I’m not even going to guess on how long this relationship lasts, but if we are betting I’ll take the under. But good for her for making the attempt.
I remember long ago a boyfriend told me of the four types of love as described in religion: Affection, friendship, romance, and unconditional. Looking back on it, I think he was trying to tell me I was fitting into the friendship category more than the romantic one. He was right…we’ve had a wonderful 20+ year friendship as a result.
If we look at those though, are we as people truly capable of loving unconditionally? Is there nothing that will get us to change our feeling towards another.
In “affection”, described as that love we feel towards the familiarity of a another (think family member) or people who have grown close to over the years. Many times, we are partnered with these people by chance. We don’t select our family members. And while many of us our fortunate to love the majority of the people in our families, judging by the holiday recaps I’ve been hearing over the past few days, being forced to “love” people you don’t always see eye to eye with just because you share the same bloodline is a tough thing.
With “friendship,” we build bonds through common interest, experiences and activities. It’s different than Affection, because you actually chose these relationships. In many cases when you hear people say “my friends are my family” it makes sense. If you are spending time with people you truly share a common bond with, rather than people you are just connected to by blood, perhaps those relationships do hold more significance to you.
“Romance" tries to combine the two, I believe. This is the love that refers to "being in love." And for everyone who has ever experienced it, it’s got as many highs as it does lows. And in my humble opinion, the high is about as good as anything you could buy on a street corner. And it’s way better for you.
And then, there’s “unconditional love.” To be able to give of one’s self like this, in a completely selfless way, is a pretty amazing thing. For parents this is kind of a no brainer. Complete and total love with no boundaries is a pretty remarkable thing, and likely one none of us would ever think we are capable of until we are actually in that situation.
I believe many of us enter into a couple believing we will love unconditionally, but I don’t believe that’s how it always ends up. But sometimes, sometimes, it does. There’s a big difference between tolerance and unconditional love. I recall an amazing scene from the movie Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon’s character, Will, has just given Robin William’s character Sean a hard time about a painting he has done. Sean’s response:
"If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ‘cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you… I don’t see an intelligent, confident man…"
Sean appeared to have unconditional love for his wife. And in the end, true affection for his student Will.
No matter what form of love, they all seem worth fighting for, no?