Humankind is obsessed with love.
It’s in movies, books, newspapers, and magazines. Nearly everything we’re sold—from cars to clothes to houses to where we get our education (Yale? UCLA? By chance, UCR?)—is supposed to make us look, feel, or be more attractive so that (get this) someone will love us for or because of it. Go to a mall or coffee shop and people watch for a while. It’ll be no matter of time before you hear some cheery-eyed folks chattering “I love this” or “I love that”, blah, blah, blahhhhhhhh…
Am I tired of it? A smidgen. Am I guilty of doing the same? Of course! There are lots of things out there that I love (just check out my budding Pinterest board as proof). But, to play Devil’s Advocate, I’m going to stoke the fire just a little more because, if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ve heard the following phrase a ba-jillion times:
“THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS SO LIMITED.”
*Scoff.* What does that even mean?
Well, to make one pitiful example of that silly little English language (is he like the runt of the litter or more akin to the “dunce cap” variety?), in my literal thirty seconds of doing a web search of “Greek word for love”, I’ve discovered that those classy Greeks have a staggering number of different words to express varying types of emotion that we English-ists (huh?) all call “love”. Or, perhaps, in less formal high school circles, “like” as opposed to, you know, “like-like”. (Sorry… had a ‘90s adolescent flashback moment… *snort*)
Eros: inspired by the Greek god of fertility, this kind of love refers to a sexual passion and desire; the root of “erotic” (don’t you just love etymology?… though hopefully not in an eros kind of way.).
Philia: deep friendship and camaraderie, like that shared between soldiers in battle or siblings.
Storge/storgy: aka “motherly love”, the shared love between parents and their children.
Ludus: playful love, such as the friendship shared between young children or that flirting and teasing in the early stages of the eros-type of affair. (Think “ludicrous”, as in “laughable through obvious absurdity” or “meriting derisive laughter or scorn as absurdly inept, false, or foolish”. According to Merriam-Webster, possibly akin to the Greek loidoros, “abusive”. Yeah… that Ludus. What a jerk.)
Eunoia: love out of kindness, as that shown to a stranger or out of genuine compassion.
Agapē: love for everyone, a selfless love without expectation or limit, what some might call “God love”.
Mania: obsession or lust (as in “love like crazy,” and not the nice kind).
Pragma: longstanding, deeply matured love, of the type felt between long-married couples. (Pragmatic = practical as opposed to idealistic.)
Philautia: self-love; can be divided into two types: 1. an unhealthy Narcissism that limits our love for others, and 2. to love ourselves thereby enhancing our other capacities for love (perhaps a version of self-esteem?).
All these words, yet I still feel a lacking. Even with their fancy Latin, I don’t even think the Greeks have quite encapsulated the full spectrum of what “love” really means or is. For instance…
I’m dumbfounded by my sisters’ love.
I was just on the phone the other day with my older sister, Jenn, laughing it up in the middle of a Starbucks, chai soy latte in hand (my favorite drink there, thanks to my younger sister, Tiff), undoubtedly annoying the other patrons with my voracious giggles and loud, excited conversation. I could feel a few eyes on me from other chairs. Some rolled, some raised a brow, and, surely, some questioned my sanity.
Did I care? Not really, because my love for my sister took precedence over my worries about other peoples’ social coffee intake experience. Besides, if Jenn were sitting there with me I would have been just as loud and just as giggly. And, indeed, she was there with me, just not in body. (Take that, Starbuckers!)
So that’s one kind of love: a younger sister to an older sister.
Not a month ago my other sister flew in from Texas to bless me with a 3-day visit. I can’t remember the last time Tiff and I spent time together one-on-one so it was a true joy to have her with me for a full 72 hours. We reminisced while making pancakes and taking a bike ride and playing Spy vs. Spy on NES. Altogether, it was a different experience than I’d have if Jenn had visited for three days.
And that’s another kind of love: an older sister to a younger sister.
And if the three of us were together at the same time—look out world!—the sister love would be multiplied and even more complicated. I’ll never know what it’s like to have two little sisters, so I can’t love my sisters like Jenn does. Likewise, I’ll never know what it’s like to have two older sisters, so I’ll never love them both as Tiff loves both Jenn and I.
So that’s an even broader, yet still more intricate, kind of love.
…I’m starting to get the feeling no language on this earth has enough words to express all the kinds of love that exist. (Take that, Greeks!)
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how might we use a picture to express love?
Like many people who snap pictures of all things worthwhile and worthless, I’m prone to using a digital editor to get just the right feel to my photos before sharing them. Owning a BlackBerry Z10, the selection of photo filters available on my phone isn’t as extensive as those on iPhones or Androids. Still, they serve me well. All in all, I tend to lean toward the “60s” and “70s” filters because they give everything a cool, old-school luster. For kicks, I might crank up the Contrast.
And as long as you’re not restricted to a meager Smartphone there are dozens of filters to choose from depending on the complexity of the editor you’re using.
Take Photoshop for instance: if you know anything about this program, you know that the number of filters available are countless. Me? I’m a novice—I make no claims to understanding the depths to which that program can tweak an image—but I commonly use something plainly called Photo Filter, which is basically like putting a different lens on a camera and seeing what happens by blocking certain color wavelengths. In layman’s terms, putting on a pair of rose-colored glasses would be like putting a pink filter on your eyeballs: it makes the world look rosier, allowing more of the rosy light in and blocking all that other, not-so-rosy garbage out. (But I won’t get too technical. For deeper study, start here.)
As an example, at the top of this page there’s a picture of my cat, Cattie (creative, I know), who is literally sleeping as I type this article… or, rather, trying to sleep, pending the disturbance that is her human taking her picture. She doesn’t look particularly happy about the interruption, but little do I care. She has all the other 23 hours and 58 minutes of the day to sleep and I need her help with this article. (Side note: perhaps the cat isn’t the best example to use in an article about love. I’m not particularly fond of her, but I’m getting better at loving her more. Heck, maybe writing this article will give us something new to bond over. Maybe.)
I’m going to use different photo filters to show you how my heart sees her.
This Warming Filter shows how I feel about her when she’s all purrs and cuddles and cute little kitty antics.
A Cooling Filter shows how I feel about her when she’s being needy and annoying.
A Deep Red Filter shows how I see her when I think she’s acting like a devil: dark and brooding and just waiting to stir up trouble, a daft little thundercloud on the horizon I’m just eyeballing the suspicions out of.
But, truth is, I have a combination of filters working on my heart at any given time. I don’t know about you, but I’m never loving someone or something in ONLY ONE WAY. That’s the complex beauty of love! I love my sisters as a middle sister, but also as a friend, and as a woman respects another woman, and as a wife respects another wife, and so on.
This last image and its combination of filters shows most accurately how I feel about Cattie right now:
Not too shabby, I must say. Brighter, softer, twinkly-eyed… *sigh* It must be a good day for the cat and me.
To filter love doesn’t mean to make it less, but to make it MORE in the right ways.
Filtering this image of Cattie makes it easier for outsiders to see how I feel about her. The combinations of filters and editing tools I’ve used—Vibrance, Contrast, Brightness, Color, Film Grain, and Saturation—elicit an emotional response that is more than words can express. I may not be able to describe my emotions verbally—again, “the English language is soooo limited”—but perhaps pictures can encapsulate those feelings with 1,000 unspoken words.
And that isn’t even the start of photo expression. EchoEnduring wrote an article, “10 Photoshop Filters You Should Definitely Know”. Those 10 are: Gaussian blur, Add Noise, Clouds, Texturizer, Lens Flare, Spherize (sounds like someone’s making up words down there at Adobe), Polar Coordinates, Lighting Effects, Offset, and High Pass. Of those, I’ve only used one and have only heard of three. Like these Photoshop filters…
How many more kinds of love are there in the world that we haven’t yet defined, or even tried?
My guess: probably close to a ba-jillion.
Here’s to the continuous filtering (i.e. enhancement) of our love,
P.S. Thanks to Merriam-Webster @ http://i.word.com/idictionary/ for the help with some of the definitions used in this article.