What is the purpose of life?
What is The Purpose of Life?
I have just ended a relationship with a man who has been just as much a part of my conscious life as he has been my subconscious for years: it has left me to ponder my existence in a most consequential way. I have tried my very best, in the last few weeks, to express in the forms of words what love is, why I love, how I love, as well as how and why I have loved him. There is nothing more painful than trying to explain to a man why you love him when he can't see it for himself. This leads you to ask yourself "Does he not understand because he doesn't want me to love him, or because he doesn't feel he deserves it?" Perhaps it is a bit of both. Or perhaps I'm crazy. All in all he does not and probably will not ever understand because he feels e has done nothing for me to love him. I have an answer to that, but it will come later. I will first state that I believe love to be the purpose of life, for what is life without love?
Without love who would we be? Why would we be alive? Rather, why would you want to stay alive if you had a loveless life? These are the questions we ponder right along side such questions as "Does God exist?" and "Is there life after death?" Yet the questions I ponder most are "What is the difference between love and in love?" Of course, I already have my answer; this being the answer I have given several of my friends on numerous occasions. Amongst my friends I have become famous for saying "You can live without the people you love, but you cannot live without the person you are in love with." Upon stating this I think it to be the end of the conversation, but it inevitably leads to the questions "What is love?" and "Why do we love?" However, in order to discuss the purpose of life – if it is to love– we must determine what love is, what we are to love, and what types of love we possess.
We can safely say that love is a strong feeling of affection that goes beyond – or is much stronger than– liking. As Webster's defines love it would seem that there are several definitions to, seemingly, address different types of love. Love can be the passionate affection for another person, sexual desire, the benevolent affection of God or the reverent affection His creatures have for Him. Love is, also, a personal attachment or deep affection for a parent, sibling, child or friend, as well as a great need for something. In this sense we can have love for people: parents, lovers and friends. We can have love for animate, non-human, beings as well as love for inanimate objects. These things range from pets to plants, rocks, and manmade objects like clothing and baby blankets. We can even love an activity. These are all things we love because as human beings we can have deep affections for and a great need of things of sentimental value, whether or not they are quite capable of loving us back. Unfortunately, this is something I have made a habit of.
It would seem that the types of love and definitions of love are limitless. Therefore, I narrow my discussion of the topic down to our capability to have a deep affection for people other than ourselves. I have come to rationalize that love has two forms: platonic love and passionate love. There is a great difference between the two just as there is a vast difference between "liking" and "loving." Love, in both forms, is a deeply psychological, as well as physiological, state of being with passionate love being the most intimate. Love is what connects you to those who are most significant in your life, which usually bonds you in some form of commitment... usually. Therefore, love is not something you should take lightly. "Liking" is merely having an interest in or a fondness for something or someone that has no effect on your life and in the course of your life generally does not matter. This brings me to the difference between platonic love and passionate love.
Platonic love is what we feel toward our parents, siblings, children, and friends. Parents love their children in the sense that they give their children life. Parents are to nurture their children. feed them, raise them and teach them right from wrong. Parents serve as the providers for their children and it is this they do out of love as well as duty. In this scenario I consider love and duty to be synonymous. Children and siblings love each other as well as their parents in much the same way. It is a familiar duty that they have for one another that binds them in a loving relationship, a kinship. Friends share this same kind of love, the difference being that they have a choice. We are not born with friends we make friends as we grow in age, and these friends either leave or stay, as we grow older. This is more than a mere liking because you have formed a commitment with them by becoming friends. This bond is more than an acquaintance because your feelings toward your friends are greater than a fondness. You share parts of your life with them and have personal experiences that bring you closer than you would with an average stranger.
Passionate love is something entirely different, sometimes in and of itself. Passionate love can very well start off as platonic, friendly love, for you can fall in love with a friend. This brings me to the difference between "love" and "in love." Passionate love is the love you have for a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. It is a deeply physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual desire to be with this person. It's more than a want to share parts of your life with them as you would a friend. It is the need to make a life with them and be with them, intimately, in a away that you cannot be with anyone else. Passionate love is what you feel toward the person you are in love with.
It is here that I lose him. I do not know how else to say "I want to be with you in all ways possible." If these definitions do not make sense to you, then I guess I need to scrap everything I believe in and start again with a clean slate, or a new man. I have been in love with him for years. It didn't make sense in the beginning and it doesn't make sense now, at the end. Sometimes passionate love makes no sense, perhaps because in most instances it starts off as purely physical. You do not have to have first loved platonically to love passionately. But this brings me back to my initial question of the purpose of life, which I still believe to be love. Without either platonic or passionate love, life would be pointless. Imagine not having a mother or father. Imagine not having siblings, friends or family at all. You would be empty, or at least I would. Let me proceed by examining myself.
Love is all I am; it is all I know how to do. I give love without regard to receiving it and that is just fine with me. I love because it gives me a reason to wake up in the morning. I love everything in nature because it is alive. I love art because it is beautiful. I love beauty because I find beauty in everything. My favorite quote from the movie Cinderella by Oscar Hammerstein II, is "Do I love you because you're beautiful, or are your beautiful because I love you?" And that is pretty much how I have summed up how I've felt about him.
He is right. He has done nothing for me to love him. But I've told him time and time again that sometimes people love you for who you are and what they see in you. They don't love you for what you can do for them, and they don't need you to do anything. All they want is to love you. If you have to do something to make them love you, then their love isn't worth having. For me being in love meant: I can't imagine living without you, not seeing your face again would kill me, without hearing your voice I'll never be able to sleep, and without you here with me I can't breathe. I can live without people I love, meaning my family and my friends, but I cannot live without the person I am in love with, which meant him. I can't live without him because I need him in ways that I cannot need my brother, parents or friends. There are parts of me that I can, only, share with him. At least, that is how I felt up to now.
Without him I will not have a loveless life. I do have a reason to live, because I have more people to love. I have concluded that without love life would be meaningless. To me, personally, I do not think that life is fulfilled without having both platonic and passionate love. The need for both is innately human and without both we'd be depriving ourselves of something natural. But I am left with another quote circulating in my mind. In her song "Lions, Tigers, and Bears" Jazmine Sullivan sings, "Just because I love you and you love me doesn't mean we're meant to be. Just because I love you and you love me doesn't mean that we'll ever be." I refused to accept this at first; now I am starting to believe. I do, however, agree wholeheartedly with one of the views on love expressed in Plato's Symposium. Phaedrus states that "... it is one of the most powerful forces driving men's actions, and a superior romance is one in which one lover is willing to die for the other." Perhaps, dying for the one you love is the purpose of life... if the situation requires such a sacrifice.
Cinderella. Directed buy Robert Iscove, performed by Brandy Norwood, Disney, 2002.
Plato. The Symposium. Penguin Classics, 2003.
Sullivan, Jazmine. "Lions, Tigers and Bears." Fearless, Arista, 2008.