Love. Few things in life can cause us to experience such a broad range of emotions, from the floating in air feeling of being in love for the very first time to the pain and agony of our most recent broken heart.
In between, somewhere we find the love we not only can live with, but want to live for. If you've ever watched the cult classic Princess Bride,
then you know the magic of true love, which can carry you through fire swamps and epic battles with giants and skilled swordsmen, and even bring you back from the brink of being dead, well, mostly dead.
As Westley said, "This is true love... do you think this happens everyday?"
There are those who believe that there is only one true love for everyone, often referred to as "the one," as in "she's the one," or "my soul mate." We certainly are led to believe this through our movies, plays, poetry and song. We love the idea of happily ever after, whether it's the prince awakening the sleeping girl with true love's kiss or two star-crossed lovers, finding the world an unwelcoming place, offing themselves with a potion from the apothecary and a dagger (thanks for that one Shakespeare).
If anyone who can take credit for our belief in such powerful true love, it may be old William Shakespeare
himself who once said, "If thou remember'st not the slightest folly that ever love did make thee run into, thou hast not loved."
Who hasn't made him- or herself a complete fool in the name of love, especially true love? It's pretty good stuff, when you find it as Richard Bach
once noted, "True love stories never have endings."
After all, who can resist the elderly couple that met as teenagers and are celebrating their 50th or even 75th wedding anniversary? Sure, our own relationship may have gone down in flames, but still we applaud those who find this rarest of finds, true love.
While its definition may be elusive, we know it when we see it. "True love is eternal, infinite, and always like itself. It is equal and pure, without violent demonstrations: it is seen with white hairs and is always young at heart," Honore de Balzac
once observed, and he did a pretty admirable job of defining its elusive yet seductive qualities.
One of history's favorite philosophers, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
, adds: "This is the true measure of love: When we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved before us, and that no one will ever love the same way after us."
If you're nodding your head right now then perhaps you have experienced true love yourself, or perhaps you've watched Prince Bride
one too many times.
And yet, even when love has soured for us, the hope of true love burns eternal. For the love someone else gives us is a gift we can't give ourselves. As Roy Croft
put it: "I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made for what you have made for yourself but what you are making of me. If love you for the part of me that you bring out."
That is indeed the best part of true love. It is not only something we can give fully to someone else, but we get an infinite supply in return, increasing our capacity to love ourselves in the process. That is one of the greatest gifts of all: the ability to love ourselves, arguably the most magical and lasting gift that anyone can give us.