When I was a freshman in college, I wrote an essay. It was supposed to be a college admissions essay where I explained how I was a perfect fit for the university I was applying to. Instead, I wrote about love.
Love, I said, can save the world. My philosophy was simple: when you love, you share each other’s joys as well as each other’s hurts. While sharing joy doubles the amount of it in the world — I am happy because you are happy — sharing our sadness does not increase the amount of sadness, but decrease it. When you are sad on my behalf, my pain is that much easier to bear. So simply by loving, we can increase the good in the world, decrease the bad in the world, and not need a penny to do it.
It’s been a decade and a half since I wrote that essay. I poured my heart into it and even now I still believe those words. Love truly can save the world.
Not only can love save the world, I think the truth is even stronger than that. I think our world is falling apart because we as a race have forgotten how to love. What is love, anyway? Is it that fluttery feeling you get when you look deep into your lover’s eyes? Is it the desire to strike down any one or anything that would get in the way of your child’s happiness? Is it forgiving and forgiving even though you continue to get hurt? There are so many ways that we define love, but which one, if any of these, really and truly captures all that is the splendor and power and vulnerability that is love?
I do not propose to know the answer to this question. I do, however, know what it feels like to be loved. I know what it means to love. I have had my heart wrenched out for love and I have had my life given back to me by love. There is one thing I can tell you with certainty about love: it is like Nirvana. It takes practice, but it is absolutely worth it, and you definitely know when you have found it.
The next several entries I will post on my blog will be dedicated to love. I want to catalogue and share publicly everything that I know about what it means to love and to be loved. I think little of my career and everywhere around me I see the world falling apart and people falling into despair. Consider this my contribution. Of all the things I am capable of I am most skilled at love. Please, let me teach you what I know.
And about that admissions essay? I only wrote one application. I was attempting to transfer universities. The odds of admission were about 20 students out of more than 900 applications — less than one fifth of the typical freshman odds. The university? Yale university.
It seems that the Elis of the world believe in love, too.