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What Is the Meaning of Love?

Freda Isaksen

I love you, I can’t live without you.
I’m so hungry, I’d love to go out to eat.
Love that music, love the beat and the rhythm.
Mamma, I loved the chocolate cake you made yesterday.
I love that dress I saw in Nordstrom’s window. I’d love to buy it.
I fell in love with your new dining room furniture.
Have you heard the latest gossip about Irene, she must be in her second childhood. Tell you more tomorrow. I love you, goodbye.
Hush a bye baby, sweet dreams. Mamma loves you.
I love your new hairdo. Which salon did it? I’d love to go there.
I just love this new color on my fingernails.
Don’t you love the shrimp cocktail they serve at the Kosher Chinese deli?
I love the flowers in the park and the birds in their nests.
I love to lie down in the sun and bake my naked body brown.
Love Adonai, your God, with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul.

Love! Is it something you feel or something you believe in? Is it colorful, maybe pink for a girl, or blue for a boy, red for a lover, or green for the food you eat. Or beige for the not so dear friend you leave with a casual peck on the cheek, followed by those meaningless words, “Goodbye, I love you.” Or white for the bride and groom as they vow, “I will love you until death do us part.” Or black for the love that turns to dislike after intimacy.

What do people really mean by using that all-purpose word love so casually?

I would consider it more meaningful if someone greets me hello, or bids me shalom or departs from me and says the three words “I like you.”


Copyright Freda Isaksen 1986–2006. Permission to reuse for non-commercial purposes is granted, provided that the text is unaltered and the original source is acknowledged. For more information, contact isaksen at math.wayne.edu.

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