Love is a common word, hackneyed, overused for everything but what the poets intended.

Love is not words or emotions; love is not music, lyrics or quotes.

Love is feeling, sharing, supporting, understanding~love is touching.

Love is commitment without qualification.

Love supports, it doesn’t judge.

Love is lasting; it doesn’t end with words or

deeds or circumstances.

It’s a continuum that survives the darkness of life and supports us, makes us whole.

Love is the elixir of life; we can’t survive without it, we merely exist. It’s the difference that makes us soar, rising above the ugliness, the sadness, the despair.

If you’re not loved and don’t love, your potential erodes one depressing day after another.

When you meet someone for the first time, there is a reaction. You form an instant opinion, good, bad or indifferent. Is this fair, not really but it’s human.

So many things come into play: age, appearance, a tone of voice, demeanor. It isn’t until later that we find the spark, that feeling that washes over us like a tidal wave. We discover that appearances are fleeting. We find that touch is more important than words, that feeling is more important than emotion.

Can it be love in an instant, maybe, but you have to be lucky, very, very lucky.

When serving as a contractor in Pakistan some years ago, I worked with a young Muslim man as my translator and local guide. He was born in Pakistan and educated with an advanced degree in economics.

His name is Fareed; he’s married, and his wife is expecting their first child. I asked him if he followed the Muslim custom of family arranged marriages? He said yes. Unfeelingly, I expressed sympathy that he didn’t have the opportunity to fall in love first. His expression, when answering, was of total surprise. His pushback was quick and unequivocal.

“I’m in full agreement with the custom; I never laid eyes on my wife until two weeks before our wedding. Our families did a perfect job; we’re perfectly matched, not the mismatch so often behind the high divorce rate in the West. We both come from the same religion, culture, education, background and family circumstances.

Fareed felt that once the heat of romance cooled the real work of togetherness begins. He said he and his wife are a perfect match and agree on most things without tension. The one exception he was his Mother. She played an intimate role in their marriage. A man’s mother never believes his wife is good enough for him, in Pakistan that means a young man’s wife is under the thumb of his mother, not a good thing as Martha Stewart would tell us.

Typically the Mother lives under the same roof and dominates domestic life. Pakistani’s with means live in large houses, more like small hotels with four or five floors. The whole multi-generational family lives there. Siblings on the upper floors with their own apartments, grandparents, and great-grandparents on lower floors. The ground floor is reserved for communal cooking, eating and socializing. The men are in the center of the room puffing on a hookah, the ancient water pipe preferred by Muslims. The women are on the periphery, huddled together gossiping in hushed tones so as not to disturb the men.

This arrangement is not a love affair, it’s a business partnership, there is no feeling, just the emotion of staying true to the tenets of their Koran.

“A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel — but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling — not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”

E.E. Cummings