The most insightful moments with a teacher is when they go off topic. I was studying A-level history and it was my birthday, Valentines Day, and the lesson veered off into talking about the Greek concept of love. The Greeks had at least four words for love, whereas in English it is just love.
Agape is love in the way you would have love for your wife or children;
Eros is love in the sense of sex and lust;
Philia is love in the sense of an affectionate friendship;
Storge is love in the sense of a common empathy.
These ideas were taken-in at the age of 18 and hit me over the head at the age of 43.
Let me explain about eros for a man (probably me). Think about desire in the sense of a dripping tap filling an empty jug. That tap keeps dripping day and night regardless. Once the jug gets half full, the man gets a figurative ‘itch’ which needs to be scratched. Once three quarters full, he is in danger of melting into a puddle on the floor over the sight of a woman’s ankles, bright red lipstick, curves, folds, bottoms, cleavage, hands, calves etc.
My wife takes anti-epileptic drugs, which in her case means she has no libido. Sometimes she takes pity on me and a sex-act takes place; although sometimes I have to hurry up and get on with it.
Yesterday, I was at moment of despair, alas the jug was three quarters full and I just couldn’t be bothered with the sad inneudo based discussion about how I might scratch my itch. Despair is good in one respect, as it forces me to be honest with myself.
I told her the only honest thing left to say, that I loved her and that I honoured her. I told her that missed kissing her so often and that even after all these years she is beautiful and I love her curves, folds and stretch-marks. I thanked her for baring me three children. I told her more, a lot more and eros was no longer in the equation, now it was purely agape/philia/storge. There were tears.
We end up in bed together, naked and just holding each other tightly, telling each other about the meaning of our love. There was this strange tension almost like electricity. It wasn’t quite anticipation and it wasn’t that we were teasing each other. But I knew that a switch would be flicked, turning this sweet moment of agape/philia/storge into eros, at the moment I penetrated her. Strangely I wanted agape/philia/storge to last yet, strangely perhaps she wanted something in addition.
We made a physical union and become one. A piece of magic manifested itself as if our souls ignited. The fragmented parts of love, that is to say the eros, philia, agape and storge, merged back into one. For that very special moment in time we were one spirit, that was being blown by the breeze of the cosmos like a dandelion-clock shedding its seeds.
This morning I am in love.