Question: Explain what love is and what it is not.
Love is many things. It exists between many people for many different reasons. There is love among families, between parents and children or brothers and sisters. Love also exists outside of families. The textbook defines love as “a deep and vital emotion resulting from significant need satisfaction, coupled with a caring for and acceptance of the beloved and resulting in an intimate relationship.” Love is an emotion, which means it can motivate a person to act a certain way, or do a certain thing. For example, a mother strives to protect her children and raise them well out of love.
Love also satisfies some personal needs. According to the textbook “human beings need recognition and affection, and a second element of love is that it fills this basic need.” Love also includes caring and acceptance. The textbook reads “People are free to be themselves in a loving relationship, to expose their feelings, frailties, and strengths.” This makes a loving relationship different from any other.
The acceptance that is found in a loving relationship is not found anywhere else in life. Caring is an important element in love. According to the textbook “Ideally, lovers support and encourage each other’s personal growth.” This support and encouragement for each other provides satisfaction to needs people have.
Everything to this point has been about what love is, but love is not everything. Love does not satisfy all needs. Love cannot do much for a person with low self-esteem. As stated in the textbook “People…do not expect their partners to make them feel lovable or worthwhile; they already take those things for granted.” So love is not a replacement for self-love or feelings of self-worth. Love is not one person sacrificing everything for the sake of another person. The textbook refers to this as martyring and defines it as “maintaining relationships by giving others more than is received in return.” Martyrs feel they are giving more than the other person to a relationship, and while this may seem fine at first, it almost always leads to feelings of resentment which will harm the relationship. The opposite of martyring is manipulating. The textbook defines manipulating as “seeking to control the feelings, attitudes, and behavior of your partner or partners in underhanded ways rather than by assertively stating your case.” Manipulators are always trying to get their partner to do what they want, without focusing on their partners needs.
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What is love? It seems to be a pretty simple word, but there is so much meaning behind it. Love is difficult to define, difficult to measure, and frequently difficult to understand. Love is what great writers write about; great philosophers wonder about; singers sing about. Love is a very powerful emotion. Love saves; love conquers; love creates. Love is passion that cannot be controlled. Both poems we have read, Waiting for Icarus and One Art, tell us how love alters human minds and hearts, making people in love struggle with the desire to remain in control of themselves and with the scary feeling of "losing themselves".
The first poem, Waiting for Icarus, reveals the story of Icarus" girlfriend waiting for her lover to come back after his dangerous flight. She is terribly worried about Icarus, and it is easy to see how much she misses her lover: "I have been waiting all day, or perhaps longer." (20) As a true lover, Icarus" girlfriend does not even notice time. She reminds me of the line from the poem "In Retrospect", by Maya Angelou: "We, loving, above the whim of time, did not notice." But when Icarus" girlfriend is left alone, she starts remembering things other people have told her before:
" I remember they said he only wanted to get away from me
I remember mother saying: Inventors are like poets, a trashy lot
I remember she told me those who try out inventors are worse
I remember she added: Women who love such are the worst of all" (15-20)
It is easy to see that despite her truthful love towards Icarus, she starts to struggle with the desire to remain in control of herself. She is afraid that life will become meaningless without Icarus. After spending a day without her lover, she only lives with the memory of her Icarus, his words, and his promises:
"He said that everything would be better than before
He said we were on the edge of a new relationâ¦" (2-3)
But she has found the way to stay in control of herself by deciding to "fly away" too. If he wants freedom, she will not spend her life in pain of knowing she cannot relive her memories or to replace her lover. Icarus" girlfriend overcomes the scary feeling of loosing herself that love often generates by choosing freedom, by remaining in control of herself. She is no longer waiting for Icarus; she is a free woman: " I would have liked to try those wings myself. It would have been better than this." (23)
In the poem One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop, we see a story of a woman who is mastering "the art of losing." This woman lives her life like there is no tomorrow. She admits that she has lost many things, and "their loss is no disaster." (3) She became a master of loosing. She starts with losing "door keys, the hour badly spent". Then she practices "the art of losing" farther:
"I lost two cities, lovely ones. And vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn"t a disaster." (13-16)
Apparently, this woman travels a lot, and therefore, she has got used to losing friends, houses, cities. She does not see any loss as a disaster. She achieves a perfection in "the art of losing" (6). The situation, however, changes when she meets a man, who becomes a very important person in her life. This time the decision is not easy to make. Even if she has been with her lover for a small period of time, the choice to lose "someone special" for her is not easy anymore. She looks back at her past, recalling how many things she has lost and realizing that "losing"s not too hard to master." (19) Now she has a choice of staying with that man or move on with her life. Her choice is to stay a free woman. Some day she might wonder of how it could have been, but today she is a master of "the art of losing" (6). The woman remains in control of herself. She realizes that even losing that "someone special" in not really a disaster for her "though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster." (20)
Love is a very powerful emotion. People in love often struggle with the desire to remain in control of themselves and with the scary feeling of "losing themselves" that love often generates. Two poems, Waiting for Icarus and One Art, are about women in love and their choices. Both of them have chosen to remain in control of themselves over love. Love is very strange and powerful.
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