The look of love

My favorite photos are of people gazing at other people with the look of love.  The look of love is in their eyes.  There is such a joyful feeling conveyed in their eyes and a sense that they know something that no one else in the world knows about their loved one.  I enjoy looking through photos that I have collected over the years of friends and family members and I find myself grinning from ear to ear whenever I see a photo with the look of love.  I have noticed that there are some strong similarities between photos.  One of the most striking similarities is between a photo of my brother, newly wed and lovingly looking at his wife and one of my dad looking at my mom when they were also newly wed.  My brother and my dad have that same look of awe and pure happiness that they each have this beautiful and brilliant woman in their life.

When I was in grad school at UC Santa Cruz, I had a photo of Andy and me that I kept pinned up on the board in my cubicle at the office.  The loving look that Andy had for me and I for him caused no end of teasing from my grad school colleagues.  One day I came in to my office to find a comic strip tacked up next to our picture.  In it Matt Groening’s characters Binky and Sheba are embracing each other exactly like Andy and I are posed and the caption reads, “Disgusting isn’t it?”  Whoever put the comic there was just envious of our deep love no doubt.  And I understand how to those outside the bubble of love the gawking might appear impenetrable and stupid as the word gawking implies.  But to me there will never be too many photographs of couples staring at each other with the look of love.

The look of love is not, however, confined to romantic couples.  Some of my favorite photos are of my mom or dad with my brother or me.  The look from parent to child conveys not only love but also a sense of pride and adoration.  The look is prevalent on baby’s faces when their parents gaze at them in their earliest days of life.  This look of love is not particularly surprising because from a biological necessity it serves a baby to attach to their caregiver.  It makes it seem so clinical, but to me, the more I gather evidence that our mind and brain – physiology and psychology – are closely mapped (see also Mind and brain: connection not only “feels” good, it is good for you), the more I feel that I understand the human experience and understand why I have such a physical reaction to the look of love.  How could I, or anyone, not have such a reaction?

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