A few weeks back, I was honored to be asked to officiate at the wedding of two very important people in my life; my nephew Elliott and his fiancee Bridget. Truth be told, I was simply blown away by the request, and without hesitation or thought, I immediately agreed. I love them both, and so there was no need for thought. If that is what they wanted, I would do my best. In the subsequent weeks, the question posed for thousands of years by philosophers, poets, scholars, religious leaders, and Howard Jones bounced through my head. After all, if I am going to do my officiant role justice, I should have some words on the topic, should I not? What is the essence of true love?
You have to consider the people in your life that you truly love. Those that are obvious and close, and those that may not be as close. As you would expect, I thought about the love I hold for close family, and what that really means. I thought about our love for our son Connor. Many say there is no love like you experience for your child. Of course I spent a lot of time thinking about my wife Anne and our love. But I also spent a great deal of time thinking about the love for friends, both those still with us, and those no longer here. There is a stark contrast between those friends that you truly love, those that you will always be connected to, those that may not be in your life everyday, but will always be in your life; and those friends that enter and exit your life.
It was in thinking about the more obscure love of friends that will always be part of your life that I realized what I thought was at least key part of the answer to the question, what is love anyway? To me love is defined by the unseen point in a relationship, when you become completely unguarded about who you are with the other person. There simply are no walls, no pretenses, no hidden agendas. The connection that is forged is elemental and enduring. It transcends the boundaries of time and distance. It doesn’t always fit nicely into social norms nor legal constructs. But to me, what I see as the fundamental theme is a connection in which you stop wanting anything from the other person; but instead, you want everything for the other person. Obviously, these connections have different facets when between family, lovers or friends, but I believe the common essence and enduring quality are the same.
So for Bridget and Elliott, and my most humbling upcoming ceremony, I do have at least this observation to answer that most important question. Whether or not you have already reached that point in your relationship, or will find your way there together, only you two can know. For you, with much love, I wish it to be a wonderful journey of lifelong and loving friendship.