Understanding Love…


I dedicate this post to my best friend and wife who has taught me all that I know about the topic.  I also dedicate it to my dog, Allie Baba, who taught me it’s possible to love a non-human.  Finally, I dedicate it to my children and to my nieces and nephews, many of whom are experiencing or will soon experience being in love for the first time.  For these young people, the only true love they’ve known so far is the kind innate in all of us: the love of a child for his or her parent(s).

As a businessman and scientist, far be it for me to feel qualified to capture a subject so non-businesslike and unscientifically-founded as love.  Therefore, I’ll cover the topic in the form of three great quotes that capture the most fundamental aspects of love much more eloquently than I could ever hope to.

1. “Love itself is what is left over when ‘being in love’ has burned away.”

―Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin172601616

For me, the most moving and deeply insightful message about love came in the 1994 novel by British writer (whose names sounds very French) Louis de Bernières, entitled, “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.”  The novel was later made into a movie by the same name in 2001.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

The quote below so eloquently and pragmatically captures the fact that there’s a very big difference between “love” and “being in love”, a difference most young people don’t recognize.

When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness;
it erupts like an earthquake and then it subsides.  
And when it subsides, you have to make a decision:
you have to work out whether your roots have become so intertwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.  

Because this is what love is:
love is not breathlessness; it is not excitement;
it is not the desire to mate every second of the day,
not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body.  
No, don’t blush; I’m telling you some truths.  
That is just “being in love”, which any of us can convince ourselves we are.  

Love itself is what is left over when “being in love” has burned away.  

It doesn’t sound very exciting, does it?  But it is.

Below is the brief scene where the talented actor John Hurt delivers this message so beautifully.

2. “Love is a commitment to someone else’s growth and development.”143490793

Peter Senge

While hardly a romantic quote, this one captures an important aspect of love for me: it’s really about a true commitment to someone else’s benefit.

Most parents understand this concept all too well.  Becoming a parent means no longer focusing on oneself but instead investing the vast majority of one’s time and effort in the growth and development of their children.  Nearly everything we do as parents is driven by our children’s best interest: from where we live to how hard we work to what keeps us up at night.  That is love.

Love, then, is a relentless focus on a loved one’s actualization.  Discerning whether you truly love someone is simple and can be answered by the following question: do you take their interest into account when you make big decisions?

3. “True love is rare, and it’s the only thing that gives life real meaning.”

Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle143919450

This two-dimensional concept has become increasingly clear to me over the years.  First, love is not as common as the commonly-used phrase, “love ya'” would imply.  While the word “love” is used quite loosely in day-to-day interactions, love is very rare and most of us will only truly love a very small number of people in our lives.

Second, true love is really all that matters in life…it’s what motivates us, it’s what inspires us, and it’s what ultimately drives most of what we do.

One thought on “Understanding Love…

  1. Bassam, thank you for a beautiful read on a Sunday morning. In this post, you reminded me how important it is to love. Your dedication to Allie Baba was delightful.

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