I like this definition, because it cuts through all the crap that people experience in relationships that they assume is connected to love but isn't very loving at all. In this essay, bell hooks postulates that love and abuse can never coexist and that people mistake a feeling of connection (cathexis) for love.
(Love is) "... the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth."
I am a force of nature in this kind of love it comes automatically and forcefully. It's also easy because he is at a stage where he doesn't challenge me (yet!), and I have never felt this connected to anyone in my life. It is easy to love a baby- I look forward to the challenges of loving a willful toddler, child, adolescent!
But here's the work: I also want him to see models of relationships that are loving. And for that, I need to be able to demonstrate what a loving friendship, a loving partnership, a loving pet relationship looks like. I find that latter task harder. I know that I am not unlike most people- I get caught up in my everyday life and tasks and forget to stop and be present with others. I don't listen as often as I should. I get caught up in what I want, that I forget I am not the only person to consider. Modeling loving relationships to my son is hard, but it is the work that needs to be done.
... "Love is as love does. Love is an act of will- namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love, we choose to." - M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled