Love Is...

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One rainy day in elementary school we played definitions. Mrs. Riley chalkboarded a word, and we would quickly write its meaning at our desks. She gave us words like, "cement," and "happy" and "experiment." Simple words, simple concepts. Easy A.

Recently, I was thinking that it would have been mean for Mrs. Riley to have listed the word, "love." Because it has a million definitions. After marriage, motherhood and mayhem, I am closer to the eye of the swirling vortex where love lives.

I do know that love is blind, it's true, it can be false, it can be true, it creates loss and undoes loss. It sells aftershave, mirrors, strapless dresses. It is the source of country western songs and the ending of Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel. But none of these descriptions say what it is, what it is made of. Like an atom or a chocolate-covered cherry, what is in the center of it?

I've decided, like the chaos theory, it has no center, just motion. Love is made of motion: like the feeling of dancing in a twirly skirt, or seeing a mysterious gift from eBay on your front porch. It is the Beverly Sills money note in Donizetti's Ah Tardi Troppo. It is the devastation that comes from divorce because without it, there is nothing to lose. It is the thing that runs us and that we run.

I have learned that it is better, truer, to unpack the word. Like this: I love my children, they are the source of my beating heart and everything real. Or, I love this hike, I'd like to lay down right here on this moist foresty path and smell every molecule of this earth. Or, I love to dance, it is like having a tea party with Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma all at once.


Love has something to do with all of this. But, even though Mrs. Riley was vigilant with her lessons, I can't define it perfectly. It looks like I will have to leave that up to you.

With a Perspective, I'm Jolie Kanat.

Jolie Kanat is a business executive in Marin.