Learning the idiosyncrasies of a language tops the list of the most revealing experiences one may have in a lifetime. At a point in school, I enrolled in a Spanish class to actually learn something practical. The Spanish instructor was a character and would often go off on numerous tangents venting his thoughts on topics that had nothing to do with Spanish but everything to do with life. One of his favorite tangents was on love. From his body tremors and contorted facial expressions, one could readily discern that he abhorred the flippant use of the word, “love.” His rants often began like this, “How can you say, ‘I love ice-cream, I love this movie, I love painting, I love my mother, I love your outfit.’ Those objects are not all in the same category and should never be lumped together and stamped with the approval of love.”

We were a captive audience, empathizing with this intellectual troubled by love. Thus, I was not surprised to discover the various ways to express one’s interest in objects that were not totally deserving of the Love Stamp in the Spanish vocabulary. I love ice-cream became ice-cream is pleasing to me and I love my mother remained I love my mother. Despite the language clarification, the age-old question, what is love? remained unanswered.

I concur with my Spanish instructor that the word love should only be used when referring to people because the truth is even when we say we love objects or activities, they are often tied to people. It is indeed mind-boggling to realize that the people and permit me to say objects I have come to love are not appreciated as such until they are gone. This piece is not intended to give fodder to the expression, you do not know the value of what you have until you lose it, but it is indeed coincidental that the people and things I have loved are for the most part gone. Upon remembering my losses, the tears come, and then I realize, Wow! I really loved that person or I really miss engaging in this activity. Hence, love and loss are synonyms in my vocabulary but not in a bad way. It certainly hurts to lose love and it hurts even more to not know love until it is lost.

What is the solution to capturing such wispy, delightful moments swiftly before they evaporate? I cannot say for a certainty. Still, Kurt Vonnegut’s words culled from A Man Without A Country, scrapes the surface of this issue. “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” Perhaps, such moments of prompt acknowledgement and realization may help with capturing love before it is lost.

Nonetheless, it is possible to smile and laugh through the tears of lost love. Benjamin Disraeli in a famous quote said “Those who have known grief, seldom seem sad.” Call it an antidote to the dilemma of lost love, but talking, smiling, and laughing goes a long way even if you are just by yourself. Poet, R.E.G. Armattoe describes such a juxtaposition in “The Lonely Soul.”

I met an old woman

‘Talking by herself

Down a lonely road

‘Talking to herself,

Laughing all the time,

Talking to herself

Down a country road.

Child, you cannot know

Why folks talk alone.

If the roads be long

And travelers none,

A man talks to himself

If showers of sorrows

Fall down like arrows

The lone wayfarer

May talk to himself.

So an old woman

On lone country roads,

Laughing all the time,

May babble to herself

To keep the tears away.

Woman, you are sad!

’Tis the same with me.

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