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Love only exists in the whole-out, unmitigated giving of it

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

In less than a week, it will be St. Valentine's Day.

Its celebration seems a bit incongruous amid daily news of violence on the streets and in the homes of Americans, the omnipresent news of wars and of other expressions of our inability to live together.

Ask a local cop or an elected official how much love he or she sees in the neighborhood or even at public meetings?

Love thy neighbor as thyself?

Indeed.

Not to be completely cynical, we see plenty of stories in the course of a year in which love is expressed by local folks for their neighbors in innumerable ways.

Another incongruous thing about the holiday; Much is made of the heart, red heart-shaped boxes filled with candy, hearts made of paper, messages of love that come from the heart.

Anyone who has seen a heart on film over the shoulders of a medical team during surgery might wonder how this life-sustaining muscle covered in blood makes us think of romance.

But the heart (and oddly enough not the brain) is thought of as the repository of our feelings of love.

Then, there is this romance thing:

“Oh, we were meant for each other. Perhaps we knew each other in a previous life.”

“We fell in love at first sight … or over a glass of wine … or when we read each other's profile on a website …”

So where does divorce, anger and estrangement come into the picture?

To be sure, the above references are to things commonly known.

Yet we strive for love, seek out love. Wives, husbands, children, other family members remain the best sources -- but not always for everyone.

Heads up now for some advice that you might not expect in such a place.

Give up seeking love and it will flow in your direction.

Often in a column called “Meandering” I use an analogy of going with the stream.

Love is like water. Try to grasp it in your hand and you have lost it. Or, put another way, you can't make someone love you no matter how lovable you may actually be.

When my wife, Mary Ellen, and I met we had dated for some time and had – we learned from each other later, — reached a point where life was going to happen without us trying to control it.

Then we met at a local bar-restaurant with a dance floor and have literally been together ever since.

Don't misunderstand. We both had standards. I was looking for someone attractive and intelligent. I got both, she got neither, and – for the record – I like not knowing what she stayed with me. It is one of life's mysteries, best cherished in its endurance.

But I did learn this:

Love only exists in the whole-out, unmitigated giving of it. It cannot be received but that it is given first.

It can't be corralled, held in a place for safe-keeping, taken out only when it suits. It will lose its value if you try to contain it, control it or use it for some selfish reason.

I often have told my children (don't ask them, they won't remember) that love cannot be used up. It is as omnipresent as existence itself. One can give love to as many people as one wants and the supply can never run out.

And that sort of brings us back to the analogy to water. There is a lot of it available, if one just bends to drink it up — or better yet to dive right in.

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to mohare@tribweb.com.

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