Janet Sheridan: Like vs. love — Confusing advice
July 13, 2017
When others tell me that I should fill my home with what I love, I become confused. I love swooping roller coasters, mud oozing between my bare toes and hooting owls at night, but I wouldn't want them in my house.
I think I'm befuddled because the advice-providers use love when they mean like, as though the words are identical twins. But they aren't; they represent different degrees of emotion. So we should advise folks to first fill their homes with what they love and then add stuff they like. Admittedly, my version isn't as concise or appealing as the original, but it makes more sense.
Filling my house with what I love begins with Joel. I love my husband. Most of the contentment and happiness I find in my home flows from him. Neither of us is perfect, but together we're darn good. He is the can-do opposite to my afraid-to, the social antidote to my shy reserve and the source of most of our laughter. He is my techie, CFO, yard manager and critical reader. Plus, he polishes my shoes when they need it.
I also love to write; so my home holds a laptop and quiet places for working with words. I am pleased when I string sentences together that will make my readers laugh, relate to a story or visualize a scene. At times, words refuse to cooperate with me, and I become frustrated; but usually my passion for writing, discovered late in life, fulfills me. When it doesn't, I eat anything with sugar as the first ingredient and take a nap.
I think I’m befuddled because the advice-providers use love when they mean like, as though the words are identical twins. But they aren’t; they represent different degrees of emotion.
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Reading also qualifies as something I love. From the moment I deciphered, "Oh, oh, oh. Oh, see Jane," I've surrounded myself with books I want to read. I don't care about owning books; I care about reading them. So I borrow books from friends or the library and recycle those I purchase. Still, my house has three built-in bookcases lined with novels and non-fiction because I'd rather look at books than dusty nick-nacks.
I've also filled my house with things I like but wouldn't mourn if they wandered away. I can count six houseplants from where I write in my living room. I appreciate them because they have survived on minimal attention: sporadic watering, fertilizer on Thanksgiving and no re-potting. It's called tough like.
Except for the kitchen where I need to distinguish a mince from a chop and keep my thumb from being either, I like rooms filled with the warm glow of lamps rather than overhead lights. Lamps make my home cozy and inviting, especially during our long winters. But if they were to tire of their job and perish from boredom, I'd think, "Oh, I'll miss them," and turn on the overhead lights, which would lead to my next thought: "Everything's so bright and clear! I guess I don't need to get new glasses after all. But dusting might be a good idea."
I like furniture with a history. As I run my hands over the smooth surface of our antique rocker, I imagine a grandfather reading a newspaper, a mother rocking a drowsy baby and stories read to toddlers snuggled close. However, despite such flights of fancy, my aging body would rather sit in my recliner.
I also like mugs that feel balanced in my hand, have a generous capacity and are unadorned by tiresome witticisms. Holding a perfect mug makes me happy. However, if Joel were to drop one my favorites and break it into colorful little shards, I'd think, "That man has a rare skill for dropping things," followed by "I really liked that mug," And then I'd buy another.
So I'm going to quit using like and love as though they represent the same emotion. Love will be the verb of choice for things that fulfill me; like will refer to things I casually enjoy; and I'll no longer wander around in a state of confusion.
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