The true reality of love wasn’t always obvious to me. What has been shrouded by society is the fact that love doesn’t even have to be between two people. Nor is love bound by physics. Or time. Or much at all.
When my grandmother passed away, what really passed away? Does the fact that her body isn’t on the planet anymore mean that my love for her—and her love for me—has an expiry date? When I remember the memories, I smile, and my body reacts the same way as if she was hugging me in this room, right now. So, as my body and mind indicate, the memories live on. Love lives on. It doesn’t matter if her atoms and molecules are in India and mine are in North America. It doesn’t matter if I’m alive and she isn’t. It doesn’t matter if the memory which I’m reacting to was from 2015 and the current year is 2020. Pragmatically, love isn’t bound by life, death, location, or time.
Often, in this new world, a world where physical and virtual has already blurred, society dictates the terms of relationships. If one hasn’t met, if one hasn’t touched, the two must hold off on deeming that a relationship.
Notice how I say relationship, and not in love.
Because it takes two people for a relationship. But love is a single-player game. Whether two people are inches away or on different continents, the feelings of love always occur individually. Love is an individual experience. It doesn’t matter if Person A doesn’t reciprocate Person B’s love. Person A could be alive, not alive, real, or fictional. They could be married to someone else or not share the same feelings. But this isn’t a two-person game. If the love was real, the circumstance doesn’t change anything. Relationships take two to tango but make no mistake: Person B does not need permission to love Person A.
And this isn’t a philosophical rant. It’s biologically sound. Whether they’re hugging, at a distance, or have never even met in person, the circumstances may dictate the hormonal composition within the person, but the hormones are within that person. Serotonin and oxytocin are not fluids to exchange. Even in physical relationships, unless they’re trapped in a cell together, most couples spend just a few hours physically next to one another. 99% of the rest of the week is spent either virtually—texting—or dwelling as an emotion, as an image within the mind. To the body and to the mind, to both the pragmatist and the idealist, it’s irrelevant whether that person one loves is right beside them, across the ocean, or as we may see soon, on another planet. Pragmatically, love doesn’t care.
It’s society that cares. Society says to approach people with caution. Society sets conditions. In the past, it set boundary conditions of whom to love: Love must be between a man and a woman, within this demographic mapping, to be valid. Today, there are other conditions. Love is a feeling. A state of mind. In nerd speak, it has no dependencies. If you want, you can pass the function of love a variable of what or whom to love. But it’s not necessary.
In the function of love, there’s an involuntary response as well as a sequence that you define. How you express love is up to you. There are no condition statements. There’s no time sequence. There are no dependent variables. Love could manifest as an act and it could be revolving around another person. But it’s not dependent on the material objects under love’s spell. It’s not dependent on time, location, if they’ve met, if they’ve divorced, if they’re beautiful, if they’re old. It has no dependencies whatsoever. It cannot be created and its supply cannot be diminished. It cannot be transformed—this isn’t geothermal power—and it cannot yield dividends. Love didn’t start at 10,000 BCE and it won’t end when we’re all gone.
It simply is.
So why does any of this matter?
First, it’s humbling. I’m not a creator of love. I don’t need to work insanely hard to love or be loved. Love is all around, always, forever. I just need to open myself to it. It’s a swirling ether all around me. I can choose to receive it. I can choose to become love. The thing that’s stopping me is simply the boundaries I set for myself.
Second, I can think for myself. I can confidently reject society’s Terms of Conditions. I can love whoever I want. I don’t need to ask for anyone’s permission. Love happens within me and if done well without the ego, love is me. It manifests as my words, behavior, outlook on life, my priorities, and my dreams. Though love may be triggered by a particular person at a particular point in space and time, these circumstances alone are irrelevant. These were just circumstances where love was realized. It’s okay to still be in love with a person that isn’t alive. It’s okay to fall in love with a person you’ve not physically met. It’s okay. Society is slow. It took society 10,000 years to start realizing it’s okay to venture beyond the man-woman dynamic, the rich-poor dynamic, the interracial dynamic. It took society millennia to realize that love is love and the demographics don’t matter. You can be a black man who grew up in the Bronx in love with a Chinese man with an Aussie accent. If that’s the case, I can love too. I don’t need to wait an arbitrary number of dates to feel it. I don’t need to wait for 6.1237 months to say it. Heck, I don’t even need the other person’s permission. I can love them whether they want to or not.
Third, it gives me hints at what really matters in our short time here. Everything is an illusion. If you pause for a moment and peer behind the curtains of any subject, you’ll realize how most things are simply collective myths. This is a fact. Currency is an example. Whether it’s Cowrie shells, copper, gold, paper, or Bitcoin, these objects have value because our collective agreed-upon story proclaims they have value. It’s an illusory story, solidified by society’s tapestry.
The job that I may toil away today may mean something in 2020. In 15 years, that job may be replaced by another—either literally with artificial intelligence—or most definitely in the minds of society. What is considered important today may be considered old tomorrow. Worthless, even—signifying that within just a short time frame, most things we take seriously today are irrelevant.
Food provides momentary pleasure and is quickly broken down into nourishment that lasts a few hours. Rapidly progressing from being a celebrity’s expensive pasta admired by a million eyes on Instagram to being digested within six hours into something, well, not as admirable.
For many Eastern religions, it was for this reason that consciousness was deemed to be the only real thing. Everything else is maya or illusion. But I’m not sure of this. My consciousness could evaporate to God-knows-what once my heart ceases to beat. I don’t think anyone will be able to listen to this incessant inner chatterbox known as my annoying consciousness after I die. My resume will cease to matter very quickly, its significance perhaps decaying even to me within this lifetime. The words I write may also be irrelevant in a decade, or if I manage to say something important, a half-century, at most. My great-grandchildren may remember me, perhaps. My personal data might be stored in a server farm but that, too, may render obsolete in a few centuries.
So what’s left? Only love prevails. It’s what makes life worth living for. It’s what exists when life is over. If an entity has no concept of time or location, if it has no regard for boundary conditions or variables, it is unbound by anything man can create or fathom. Love has no dependencies, circumstances, or form. It’s nothing. And for that reason, it’s everything.