Being a parent and growing old are the two things that have given me most of what slender perspective I have on the topic of love; perhaps in addition having had my heart broken a few times also contributes.
Here’s what I know: much of what passes for love is a hoped-for transaction. But it’s also possible to love without any expectation of return and without any intention of imposing one’s love on the loved. Furthermore, as a parent we learn that love can be very one-sided; our children love us, but not in the way we love them. That’s due to biology and time, and so we learn to love-and-release rather than love-and-cling-on, which seems to be the prevalent Disney narrative for supposedly “adult” attachments.
So in the end, as I move through the closing stages of my own brief period of existence, I feel that ultimately love becomes almost abstract, a feeling that fills us and enriches us, but doesn’t need to be connected with trust or hope or possession. This is, of course, the privilege of those who’ve already done their living and reproducing and hoping and striving at an earlier age. In the end, love becomes selfless, an act of giving, sometimes silently and sometimes not, simply because we’ve learned to cherish those who matter to us, not because we hope for anything in return.