A word is like a thermos bottle; with no moving parts or detectable brain it is able to accommodate either of two opposing tasks without having a more specific purpose than, “Keep this like it is!” No matter whether it contains chilled perfect martinis or the hottest Kenyan Java the thermos faithfully preserves them just so, so long as partakers appreciate them enough to remember to replace the cap.
If the contents happen to remind the imbiber of a distraction from returning the top, they begin to change from their well-preserved conditions to whatever the ambiance happens to be wherever they’re left exposed. You might still call them martinis but, hot as the Sahara, they’ren’t the same thing at all.
My favorite words are universal metaphors that can hold their own within any context: threshold, culture, duality, consciousness … and like a thermos’ contents, the intended context must be appreciated for the flavor of its meaning to be tasted throughout the repast.
The word that inspired the forgoing distraction is “love.” Love is one of those words whose intended meaning is most protectively misinterpreted by the receiver’s past. My purpose in exploring it here is to praise its most profound, primary function as a plowshare cultivating fallow fields drained of the vitality to transcend the habitual complacency of solitary stoicism hanging on to those lives of quiet desperation.
Love is the cultivator across the scale of the concept of culture, from the onset of embryogenesis in a petri dish, pond scum or a womb, to the sympathy required to begin a culture as small as a mating pair and as large as a civilization … or a planetary body. As a cultivator, love surpasses the initial attraction that results in such new entities, which can be anything from sex to usery to security in numbers. It is the will to abandon the relative security of your status quo for the chance you haven’t “seen everything” just yet evoked by another who promises to reveal more if you will. It is recalling the vitality in the fresh air of unbridled curiosity wakened by one's first breath in a world it felt free to explore.
I have recognized this function of love acting as the great cultivator in the aftermath of certain friendly discussions over the years that grew too contentious to bear perceived proximity, resulting in either yelling because we felt too far away or stomping out because we felt too close. The painful disappointment of such heated impasses is like a plowshare tilling along what had seemed to be the seam of the pair’s indivisible unison, exposing the stuff of wishful thinking sugar coating bridges over unbrookable intolerances. Only love can make one willing die for another, or at least plow up the rocks of uncompromising, unconscious, structural assumptions that enclose our mind’s freedom to love another actual being unconditionally — and live with it happily ever after.