Untitled Essay on Love

Untitled Essay on Love

An essay on love by Yael Lilit, highlighted from the February 2024 essay contest. Join us for future projects and contests in the community forum, with an upcoming writing workshop hosted by novelist Tara Isabella Burton.

You can’t talk about love without talking about heartache. It’s the risk one takes to find or experience love even for a brief period. It’s almost as if we treat love like a rare resource. We risk all parts of ourselves for it without even being aware we are doing it. We can lose our money, time, health and life. Yet we search for it like if we don’t find it we might die.

Like going into a dangerous coal mine we armor up with plastic hats knowing full well when that mine caves in nothing is going to help us survive. The irony is, this resource is in all of us. There’s actually a surplus, an overstock of it. So why can’t we let it be released freely into this world?

I think the answers will be obvious to many but I often find we forget them.

As a society we tend to distill love down to its utilitarian purposes. Love is the algorithm, it’s economical— meaning, have family to help the world function. It's a religious value matching game or it’s a way to keep loneliness at bay. It is all those things but it’s not why people write love songs, books, movies, or enter essay contests. In order to experience love, one needs to relinquish control, which is a core fear we all have. It’s opening ourselves up to unnecessary pain. As Death Cab for Cutie once said, “fear is the heart of love.” Just as soon as you realize this, that fear starts to fade and morph into something else. With time the pain you once wanted to save yourself from, you will gladly take on to save your loved one from. See, love is not a stagnant thing. It changes, it’s a sphere that reveals a different side to you the longer you hold it.

The reason one hesitates to love is that it’s the shortest, most unpredictable investment you will ever make. There is guaranteed loss whether we win or lose at it. It makes love overwhelming; it’s a wave that often crashes into thoughts of grief. Love is a reflection of our fear of losing it.

But I really believe we exist because of it. Honest love is being truly seen by someone. It’s keeping a balance to be delicate and secure with someone. It’s why we need so many kinds of love in our lives. We aren’t one dimensional. We have a deep desire to be seen, appreciated, valued, especially in a romantic way. Because that kind of being seen too often goes unnoticed, since we reveal that part of ourselves to very few. But it begs to be seen. When you truly value someone it’s much harder to dismiss them, abandon them. Romantic partners are seeing and admiring one another in a way that can’t be done elsewhere. It’s the pulse of the idea that connection is the heart of our existence. It’s a deeply selfish desire that produces selfless results.

When you look at the love that works it’s often two people who see each other for who they are and what they have to offer and both see the value in that. Unfortunately, many of us wait to love, believing our precious love is a god-given gift to this world, rather than the necessity it is. Some of us will never get to be truly seen by the ones we love.