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OK, yes, we understand that the expression “true love” is a metaphor, a sort-of figure of speech, and not something that is “out” there like a BMW 320i or a lovely Monarch butterfly fluttering in the warm afternoon breeze.
True love is a relationship thingy, it points to something essential about the relationship between two people. So, can you have true love? No, not really. You cannot posses true love like you can posses a car or a pet. But you can have and maintain a relationship with another person that can be characterized by the symbolic expression of true love.
Open up a can, and you may find that it is full of beans or peaches. Open up the metaphor of true love, and you may find what? Most people would say that they find trust, hope, security, peace, happiness, fulfillment, etc. This list can easily get much longer. In any case, it is not possible to think of true love apart from a special, if not intimate, relationship between two persons.
It so happened that I walked across Jack London Square in Oakland, California, yesterday and encountered a large trickle of very young couples leaving Scott’s Seafood restaurant. They were in their very late teens or very early twenties, and I quickly learned that it had been a fraternity dinner party. The males were dressed mostly in dark suits and white shirts, and the females mostly in revealing dresses and high heels.
The men’s chests seem to pop out in pride from underneath their jackets, with each one of them protectively sporting a female on their arm or close by. The female’s dresses did not cover much, and every girls seem to be tugging at the seam of her dress to pull it down a bit. For some, it did not help. Walking on high heels made them look fairly buzzed as it is a skill that they had not mastered yet. Everyone was giddy.
It was an odd scene, and I watched the procession with keen interest. I thought of how Mother Nature made people of testosterone and estrogen (not literally, of course) and remembered my own college years.
One plus one makes two. Does testosterone plus estrogen make true love? Perhaps not. But it might get us there. Can you imagine a relationship characterized by true love as one that ever is/was void of testosterone and estrogen? To the contrary, can you imagine a relationship characterized by true love as one that ever involves nothing more than testosterone and estrogen?
That is a challenging thought for some people. For people of faith, the relationship between God and mankind is supposed to be the primary true love relationship, emulated by the relationship between a parent and his or her child. And young people definitely experience true love in different ways than, let’s say, people of the aging baby boomer generation.
Is it testosterone/estrogen versus arthritis? Or anticipation versus memory? Is it hope versus dignity? Everybody, it seems, makes up his or her own meaning of true love, and that meaning may change for people over time.
All of this is to say that true love is board enough as a metaphor to likely inspire and motivate all of mankind and forever.