I watch a number of TED talks a week ago on a myriad of subjects; its presumably because experts, movers and makers make their way onto that stage. Not just to entertain but to inspire and enliven an audience of already enlightened guests.  

Lately my focus has been on understanding love and why we see it the way we do. It so happens that the latest Ted talk I watched was delivered by Mandy Len Catron. She spoke about metaphors. Defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them. She more specifically spoke about the metaphors we use to give meaning to the experience of being in love. Through her talk she brought to my awareness that most of my expectations of love and romantic relationships might be put to play for me from the word go, as the words leave my tongue unconsciously and effortlessly in the form of metaphors. 

We often find people saying “ I’m falling in love” and most of us too will fall in love a number of times in the course of our lifetime. Falling in love is the main way we talk about the experience. I agree with her because when I too conceptualise the metaphor what I see is a cartoon character falling into this deep man hole and plummeting into the sewer below.

Falling is accidental, uncontrollable and it is something that happens to us without our consent and this just happens to be one of the main ways we talk about starting a new relationship. 
Let me explain further: in her talk titled “A better way to talk about love” writer and English teacher, Mandy Le Catron addresses what is “wrong” in how we talk about love. The metaphors we use to describe love do it and us no justice.

The language we use matters and the metaphors around love are often disempowering and problematic. “In love we fall, we are struck, we are crushed, we swoon, we burn with passion, love makes us crazy and love makes us sick, our hearts ache and then they break. Our metaphors equate the experience of being in love with someone, to extreme violence and illness. We at times find that love is equated to mental illness (madness), as Beyoncé put it “got me looking , got me looking so crazy in love” and consider “love is blind and it will take over your mind”  the world’s famous lyrics by Eve featuring Faith Evans and the late Elvis Presley’s “Burning Love” all give the impression that love is a rather painful and maddening experience.

Its self-explanatory why we experience, feel and expect of love to be dramatic, addictive and painful. A culture that expects monogamy and lifelong relationships should be concerned about how we paint the picture of love. Mark Johnson and George Lakoff suggest we change our metaphors in the all enlightening book “Metaphors We Live By”. These linguists urge that metaphors really do shape the way we experience the world and that they can act as a guide for future actions sort of like self fulfilling prophecies. Mark Johnson and George Lakoff propose we use a different metaphor for love: Love is a collaborative work of art. As we adopt this we will surely begin to feel more than ever that love is creative, it’s a beautiful experience and that it requires communication and discipline. 

I truly believe love is a pure consensual expression of deep beauty and Godliness and it can be experienced as such only when the beings involved understand it. 

Metaphors we live by: . Mark Johnson and George Lakoff
Eve: love is blind
Beyonce: Crazy in love