Feel the Love
A Miami hair stylist named Johnny once wrote to tell me, apropos of nothing, that he had discovered what love is. Whole swaths of the message were written in caps, followed by thickets of exclamation points, the usual signs of a crank letter to the editor. I was surprised to find that Johnny had hit upon, if not the definition of love, then at least a very serviceable definition. Here is what he wrote: “Love is the expenditure of energy on another person’s behalf with no expectation of return.”
It is a simple way of looking at love. Love in action. Love without ego. Perhaps that’s what a certain prophet had in mind when he told people to love their enemies.
I mention Johnny because this issue of Tufts Magazine is fairly bursting with love. First, there’s our cover story. While he was a professor of psychology at Yale, Dean Robert Sternberg turned to love as a subject of scientific inquiry. Here he outlines the theories he developed to explain how different kinds of love arise and how people form their expectations of romantic relationships.
If you are looking for sex, love’s friskier cousin, we’ve got plenty of that, too. Isabella Stewart Gardner, whose art-filled palazzo became one of New England’s great museums, may have expressed her sexuality in the arrangement of her prized objects, according to Patricia Vigderman, the author of “Desperately Seeking Isabella.” And “Strangers in the Night” is about one of nature’s more mysterious sexual displays—fireflies exchanging glances, wondering in the night what were the chances they’d be sharing love before the night was through.
Nor have we forgotten that purest and noblest form of love, as illuminated by our columnist Professor George Scarlett : the love between a man and a ball team.
But unbutton the petticoat of passion, peel off the silky chemise of lust, and love reveals itself to be just what Johnny said it was: a selfless act. There is love in Dr. Ikemba’s campaign to eradicate AIDS and other diseases in Africa. There is love in a journey to bring sanitation to a Tibetan village. And love is the very basis of Lieutenant Ackerman’s comportment toward his men.
As always, we have written, edited, and designed these articles on your behalf, asking for nothing in return. OK, maybe a letter to the editor once in a while. But that’s all.
Elephant photos. There is one other thing you can do. If you come across an elephant—be it live or inanimate—send us a photograph (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell us where and when you took it. From time to time, we’ll run the best shots.