What Does It Mean to Love Another?

What Does It Mean to Love Another?

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,

or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:

I love you as one loves certain obscure things,

secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries

the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,

and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose

from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,

I love you directly without problems or pride:

I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,

except in this form in which I am not nor are you,

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,

so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Pablo Neruda


It was not until I had my first child, my daughter, that I felt true unconditional love.  I subscribed to the idea of this type of love, but sadly my marriage was not representative of this ideal and even lacking in any semblance of kindness at times. Seeing my daughter look at me as if my eyes held many secrets, I was overcome with a deep and lasting love for this new and beautiful soul. In that moment, I realized that I would do anything to make her life easier and would provide comfort to her in all instances.  This same glorious experience was repeated after giving birth to my son three years later. Unconditional love is truly a powerful thing.


“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”



These days, the word “love” is used very superfluously and one begins to wonder what it means to really love another.  Is it a emotion, an action, a tangible experience or is it a combination of all of the above? Pablo Neruda speaks to this in the first stanza of his poem One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII. He writes, “I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:I love you as one loves certain obscure things,secretly, between the shadow and the soul.”  These words represent how I experience unconditional love. I look beyond the typical and find myself connecting with something much more muted. The beauty of a rose or the feeling of fire are not paramount in my appraisal.  Love to me is best described as being “between the shadow and the soul.” The space deep within that can speak to another only a spiritual level. Between darkness and light rests the true self devoid of the masks used to disguise traits that are deemed less than desirable. When “seen” these are the parts of another that drive true unconditional love.


It is in the “seeing” of the other that one can say, Yes, I see the dusty corners of your soul and I still choose to show up each and every day and love you. That to me is representative of a greater love than just the physical. Love overlooks the bumpy and difficult road another may choose to travel and offers compassion and empathy during the journey. All will not always be well, that much is guaranteed. With that in mind, love is only true if extended during the most difficult of times.


“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

— William Shakespeare


Finally, the line, “I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,except in this form in which I am not nor are you”  is beautifully stated. Unconditional love is in its truest sense a lack of separation from the beloved. It is an unspoken truth that both are a part of the same cloth, in tune with one another no matter the circumstance. I know no other way to love, and my children are well aware of this.  It takes quite a bit of upheaval to force me to lose sight of this truth. We as spiritual beings are nothing without the connections that bind us. Choosing to love another is one of the most intimate and soulful ways to forge these connections. At the end of my days, I want to be able to say that I loved deeply no matter the cost. That will have been a life well lived.


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