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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Monday, January 31, 2011

Love: The Power and the Joy**

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey

*Chicago Tribune
February 11, 2011
as "Love: the power and the joy"

*Somerset Daily American
February 12, 2011
as "Love: the power and the joy"

Of all the memories that crowd our minds, there’s not one clearer or more arresting than that moment that we saw The One; that single human out of six billion that would turn us on our emotional ears, and change our lives forever.

It might have been in the house next door, in a park, on a bus, or across a crowded room.  Maybe our ears heard an endearing laugh; that one voice out of many, a sound that went straight to our heart.  For me, it was the distant sight of a dark-haired goddess across 32 lanes of a bowling alley. 

But wherever and whenever that moment occurred, we remember how it rocked us to our very soul.  It is a memory we will take to our graves.

Love is a hard thing to figure.  It strikes, often without warning, lancing through our emotional defenses to that secret place within that we share with no one else.  We know how it feels, but to try to pin down an actual definition is a goal that has eluded the passionate efforts of the best writers, poets, and minstrels.

Love inspires tremendous outbursts of written eloquence; words of power and knee-weakening emotion.  Yet in its presence we are rendered helpless, tongue-tied, brain-frozen and left feeling supremely foolish. Our thoughts are forever altered.  We cannot concentrate; sometimes finding that our gaze has fixed on some unseen point of focus while wearing a gentle smile of sweet remembrance.

While with The One, the whole world changes.  The sun shines brighter, the air smells sweeter.  We are surrounded by a bubble of sheer joy that deflects all sadness and anger.  The casual touch of their hand in yours sends a delicious shock through you.  Their hug is a place of warm refuge and safety.  And none of us will ever forget the magic of their first kiss.

But love is multi-dimensional.  Beyond the touch are fundamental changes.  Underlying love is foundation of friendship and respect.  It is a bond of trust and faith; the one place we feel safe enough to be completely, totally honest.  And utterly without fear.  It is a shared set of goals and interests, shaped by a common vision. 

It is also commitment.  Life is tough.  It’s even tougher for those who surrender easily.  There’s no such thing as total bliss.  Two intelligent people will inevitably have rough patches; it goes with the territory. Love is the force that keeps two people together, working things out by whatever means necessary. It is love that flows through a marriage from those early years of passion through the gentle companionship of old age.

Love is also patience.  People make mistakes; say dumb things.  They lose their temper and do regretful things.  Love recognizes those foibles and weaknesses and the occasional trespass.  Love also realizes when we were wrong; and that it’s okay to admit we were wrong.  Because love also forgives.

Love is not control.  It does not command.  It is a partnership in which both are equal. It is, at times, not easy.  It does not exist on autopilot, but requires hard work and sacrifice.  It needs care and nurturing, and occasionally, rejuvenating.  Love is putting the interests and needs of another in front of yourself; at times, in front of all else.  Love is remembering 30 years later that when you first met, they were all you could think about.

Love is grand celebration; Broadway shows and fancy restaurants.  Ballrooms where you slow-danced until the place closed.  It is also small kindnesses.  Opening the door, a husband cooking and cleaning up after dinner, buying flowers just because, and a glass of wine shimmering in candlelight.  A wife understanding why a motorcycle is necessary; why a football game is so important.  It is that special smile, that touch on the shoulder; the out-of-the-blue hug.  Sometimes, it’s shutting the door on the rest of the world and just being together on a long winter’s eve.

This Valentine’s Day, remember that love…true love… is not for day, or a year; it is forever. 

Life is full of meanings both great and small.  But at the end of our journey, the greatest meaning of all will be that we loved, and were loved in return.

And if it all falls apart, I will know deep in my heart,
 the only dream that mattered had come true.
 In this life, I was loved by you.
 –Colin Raye
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