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i once said to a friend that i wanted to love the whole world. he looked at me with a baffled expression and proceeded to argue that i would not be able to do so. “how do you love the whole world?” he asked rhetorically. for him, the concept of attempting to love everyone and everything in the world was impossible; for 18-year-old me it seemed like something i could somehow achieve. i felt like love needed to be within my foundation, and even now i feel the same.

i see my foundation as the value base from which i operate; my frame for existing and engaging in relationship with my world. i often think back on that conversation because as i age, i value my developing knowledge and experience of love more and more.

love is so many things to so many people but what i have understood on my journey is that at 'different points we require different types of love to process what we are faced with. the 'five love languages’ gives a good example of how we all have ways that we prefer love to be shown to us, while also showing us how we may be required to adapt our display of love for the different individuals in our lives.

in considering love as a modern ideal, there is often a focus on romantic love and the connection with a significant other; parental love because there is no bond like the one between a parent and child; and self-love, the beacon of a new experience of life. with self-love being a buzz-phrase of the millennial generation, the desire to recognize our own needs and to disallow poor self-image to rule us can be a beautiful celebration of personal well-being and happiness. but sometimes our views on these types of love can be characterized by ideals that we actually need to unlearn.

philosophy highlights that there are different types of love (agape, philia, eros, pragma etc.). i used to perceive eros love, often defined as sexual desire, as something i did not want to associate myself with, due to it being paired with a lack of self-control. in the bible, thessalonians 4:3-4 speaks about staying away from sexual vices and being in control of oneself, and so my natural connection was that eros love had to be the foundation that triggered the jezebel hiding within us.

what i now perceive eros love as is passion, that within the right context its everything that it needs to be. for me that means sexual desire within the context of a committed marriage. my encouragement is that time is spent learning about the different types of love as a basis for understanding daily interactions with people and circumstances, so not to become boxed in by our notions, whether learnt from others or birthed from our own perceptions.

if i was to return to my 18-year-old self and respond to my friend with the mind i have now, i would say: love for all things is an aim to be consistent in care, open to adaption and to hope for the best.

at our core, holding a desire to be love, act in love, share love and be loved can allow us an experience of life that is holistically beautiful. love as patience, love as passion, love as stillness, love as service- love in all its forms- not just for us, but for the world we encounter.

love at the foundation will be like untamed ivy, growing to cover every single part.

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