guess how much i love you

Most things in the scientific world have magnitude ( the #value) and an appropriate unit. Science teachers everywhere make a big deal about including units and I take off at least 2 points whenever a kid leaves it off. It’s not just science……I order a tall coffe, large fries, wear a size 9 shoe, buy milk by the half gallon, we are supposed to drink 96 oz of water a day, and I fill my car up with 16 gallons of gas, etc. Things come in units and or amounts.
The other night I was laying in bed thinking about how much I missed an old friend. And I started wondering why love doesn’t have a unit. We occasionally try to apply one and say things like “I love you tons”, but it sounds corny and doesn’t really make sense…..or does it? Sometimes I feel like my love has weight. It is thick and heavy and anchored down somewhere inside me. I love my son like this. I love my husband like that. A few other people come close, but to be honest I don’t love them the same way. I love coffee and chips and salsa and the new tegan and sara album. No I don’t think I am using the word love too lightly in those contexts. I love them. I like brownies and the new shoes I just bought and last nights episode of Heros, but some things I like more. Isn’t that enough to say I love them? We need levels or degrees of this. The word for how I feel about salt and vinegar chips should not be the same one I use when I tuck my son in at night. Some purists might say love doesn’t come in levels or degrees. If we were using the word properly we wouldn’t use it so casually. I checked out dictionary.com and was shocked to find 21 definitions and even more verb phrases. Some were easy (to have a strong liking for) and others were going to take a lot more work (profoundly tender passionate affection) and I won’t even go into the whole 1 corinthians 13 take on it. Ancient Greeks had 3 distinct words for love which helped ease up on some of the confusion ( eros, philia, agape). Sanskrit has ninety-six words for love; ancient Persian has eighty; Greek three; and English only one. If we are only going to use one word we might as well tack a measurement and unit onto it. Can’t you just picture it –opening up a card from your husband and it saying I love you 78 degrees, or I love you 34 grams worth. It isn’t very romantic but sure practical. So for now let’s just say I love guacamole and my TiVo and the smell when someone else just cleaned my house in normal equal amounts. I love Owen and Shaun right up to the moon and back (hey, if science isn’t helping you out go with children’s books.)

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