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Love, Life, and Laughter in Limericks
By Harold Richter
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Harold Richter
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhat is Love?
I would guess that everyone, at one time, or another, in his, or her life, has asked: "What is Love?"
I think I have a pretty good working theory about love. I was listening to a motivational radio station, called the Winner's channel, some 25 years ago when I first heard a speaker ask this question: "What is the opposite of love?" I mentally answered that question, as most people would, with the word "hate". Then the speaker said something that has worked on molding my outlook on the subject, ever since. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of "like" is hate. The opposite of love is simply not caring.
Over the years since, I've done some exploring and expanding on that concept and realized that he was probably right. Where like and love are similar, they are absolutely two separate things. Once more, love is a lot more common than most people give it credit for. If you saw a toddler step off of a curb next to you and head out into a busy street, wouldn't you reach out and pull him out of harms way?
That's a simple example of love. It's a basic instinctive human trait. You didn't have to like, or even know this child to go out of your way to pull him away from traffic. The love within you is pretty much universal, in this way. Love can be strong, weak, over powering, or almost non-existent, but it is there to some degree all of the time. It has no down side.
"Like" on the other hand, is an emotion that can be positive, or negative. The down side of like is hate. "Like" and "hate" are obvious opposites, but they are on the same line of scale.
Our physicists have discovered 4 basic forces in our universe. They are electromagnetism, gravity, the strong force and the weak force. Now, the strong and weak forces are found in the sub-atomic sciences and our world's best physicists, like Max Planck (Nobel prize winner in 1918), have only become aware of them in the last 90 years, or so. But man has been aware of both gravity and electromagnetism since he began to look around his world. He might not have understood the details, but he could see their effects in common phenomenon, such as lightning, and falling rain.
These 2 forces differ from each other in a special way. Electromagnetism, on a scale, has the potential to be positive, or negative. There are both positive and negative poles on every magnet and electricity is considered positive if it's flowing one way and negative if it's flowing the other way. However, gravity doesn't have a negative counterpart.
To experience the least amount of gravity, you would have to be way out in space, away from any stars, planets, moons, or any other form of matter. Even then, gravity from matter some place in the distant universe would still have a very slight pull, so you probably wouldn't be able to find anywhere that actually has an absolutely zero gravity condition.
The heaviest gravity condition would be close to a black hole, where matter is so dense that a pea sized particle would weigh tons on earth. But antigravity is still only found in science fiction.
Those are the two extremes of gravity, but nowhere does it venture into a negative gravity situation where matter actually repels itself. This scale has no negative. Weight measures start at zero and just go up from there. Never down past zero.
Love also has no negative side. You can have deep and strong love, or you can be relatively indifferent, but there is no anti-love. It's scale, like gravity, starts close to zero and just increases from there, to varying degrees.
"Like's" scale would relate much closer to electromagnetism with it's positives reaching up to close, and passionate affections and negatives that can grow down to profound hatreds.
Through childhood, I was brought up as a Lutheran Christian. I was headstrong and had little patience for memorizing bible passages that I felt were not only vague, but also written in what was, to me, close to another language. But the stories stuck. I did learn much about the workings and atmosphere of the religion even though at that age, I was far too rebellious to consider applying them completely to my life.
One thing I remember learning is a line in the bible that says: "His sword is sharp enough to cut spirit from soul". At the time, I really didn't give it much thought, but later, while listening to that motivational channel, I heard speaker after speaker talk quite correctly and logically, defining and explaining spiritual matters, but when asked about spirit and soul, they would invariably come up with what I felt was a disappointing answer.
They had no problem acknowledging that God was present. They showed how a person's attitude about life's trials and encounters would have a direct bearing on the successes and happiness that person would experience. They showed how a person's spirit could be lifted into a peaceful state by embracing joy and recognizing the ego and it's depths. They exposed many relative truths in an exact and comprehensible manner. But, it seemed that most of them considered spirit and soul the same thing. This didn't sit well with my childhood teachings. If spirit and soul were the same thing, then how could they be divided with that sword? Why would there be two different names for the same thing? I felt that somebody got something wrong somewhere.
Then, I pieced it together. There have to be two different things. They are similar, from a living human being's prospective and can easily be mistaken at as one, much like "like" and "love", but I realized the soul isn't the part that makes me feel up, down, happy, or sad. These emotions are related to spirit. The terms "high spirits" and "a spirited lad" refer to this. Another example could be that when a ship sinks at sea, you might hear someone say: "So many souls were lost". This doesn't refer to how happy, or sad these people were. It refers to their existence in our world.
With a solid view on the differences of spirit and soul, along with an understanding of the differences between like and love, the next step was almost a natural revelation. Like and hate are related to spirit, just as love is related to the soul. This view not only reinforced the previous logic, but it fit the big puzzle better than any other piece I had ever conceived of.
There are some extreme examples of direct decisions made that can only be attributed to love. In January of 1982, flight 90 took off, from Washington's airport, in a snowstorm. It had trouble maintaining a climb because ice had formed on the wings and it finally crashed into a bridge and fell into the Potomac River. Most of the passengers and crew were killed, either from the impact, or from being strapped to seats of the aircraft, most of which quickly sank into the ice filled water.
A few of them managed to unbuckle their seatbelts and make their way to the surface, but they were still left trying to stay afloat in freezing water, and rescue was a long way away. People that just a minute earlier, were driving over the bridge, were horrified to see the crash survivors one by one, slipping under the water and drowning as hypothermia paralyzed them.
There was a small group of survivors clinging to a bit of the wreckage and another lady was trying her best to swim ashore through the chunks of ice that clogged the water. Finally, a helicopter arrived, but could only rescue one person at a time. It would lower a line to the small group and one survivor would be lifted out and carried to safety, while the others waited for their turn. Every time the line was lowered, the same man would catch it and pass it over to another of his fellow survivors. Over and over again he refused to take a chance at life away from someone he could help. When all the others had been rescued and it was finally his turn, the pilot of the rescue helicopter looked down and he was gone. He just couldn't hold on any longer. He had given his life so the others might have a chance to live.
At the same time, a small truck driver, who had witnessed this horrific event had made his way down to the shore of the river. He and several others had seen the lady trying to swim to shore, but she was now unable to move any further and just clinging to a piece of ice for her life. With no rope available, the truck driver had taken whatever items he could find and tied them together to make a safety line. He tied it to himself and dove into the river after the lady. He had made it to within 25 feet of her when he ran out of safety line and was stopped. Right then, he saw her slip from exhaustion, from her piece if ice and go under. He dropped his safety line and swam as hard as he could toward her, diving down under the surface to catch her as she sank. He pulled her up and swam back to shore with her in tow, saving her life.
If you ever wanted to see examples of love at it's best, there they are. The man who passed the lifeline to his fellow survivors probably didn't like, hate, or even know them, but he gave his life to save them. The truck driver dropped his only link to a safe return to shore, to swim out a little further and save a lady's life. He didn't know her. But he risked his life for her.
You could call these acts a fierce determination not to let harm come to another, but that is still a motivation born of love.
Many people think that the word "love" refers to that extreme feeling of need towards certain individuals that are either family members, or romantic interests. Where love is no doubt there, those examples also include attachment, likeability, familiarization, and in cases of romance, attraction, sexual attraction, and physical chemistry such as pheromones for bonding.
There are many examples of married couples that get divorced because one, the other, or both decide they have grown to hate their spouse. But when an accident, or death happens to one, the spouse is genuinely distraught, or grieved. There's an example of both love and hate existing together. How could this happen if like and love, or spirit and soul, were the same thing?
I believe that even if this theory is just a relative truth, it is still far closer to that absolute truth that I've been striving to comprehend ever since the subject of understanding love started becoming a value to me.
It is with this view of how love works, that I have structured many of my poems.
Love is magical when it's imparted.
Its mystical traits are uncharted.
You can take love today,
And just give it away,
And have more than you did when you started.
The secret to life is quite clear.
To know joy, is why we are here.
Don't let problems and strife,
Take control of your life.
If you love, you have nothing to fear.
"Love's" opposite is certainly rare.
It's not "hate", as when ego is there.
Where the ego's true trait,
Can turn "LIKE" into "hate",
Lack of Love means you just don't care.
It's true for both wise men and fools.
Love requires no talents, nor tools.
It's much like the rain,
Feeding both weeds and grain.
Love rules without following rules.
Love's description just cannot be heard.
Its meaning will always get slurred.
Our speech can't employ,
To bottle the joy.
Love just can't be captured by word.
May your eyes see no sorrow, or woe,
And your heart feel the warmth of God's glow.
May you feel the love,
Like a light from above.
And the joy of life's gifts overflow!
If you feel unloved, or betrayed,
Examine the wall that you've made.
Open up with a grin,
And let the love in.
It will work when you end your blockade.
You'll feel warmth from your head to your toe.
And your whole being will feel aglow.
It will fill every pore,
And flood down to your core,
When your love makes your joy overflow.
The things in our lives, we recall,
Once used, may just lay where they fall.
But each value's at hand,
Whether money, or land.
Yet, love will out value them all.
As your being achieves its true grace,
And God's plan, you learn to embrace,
Your spirit will heal,
From the love that you feel.
Like the sun shining down on your face.
We should be content and well fed,
But humanity hungers instead.
And the wise person knows,
In our yearnings, it shows,
There's more hunger for love than for bread.
If your self-esteem has said good-bye,
And good spirits are in short supply,
Then do a good deed.
And your love will succeed.
The failure would be not to try.
Your life might look happy, and merry,
Or your character might feel contrary.
As your friendships unfold,
Any love you withhold,
Will just add to what burdens you carry.
Some people pass judgments, with zeal,
In their minds, there is no appeal.
To add to distractions,
When you judge someone's actions,
It makes their love harder to feel.
Our differences give some souls chill.
Some use them as reasons to kill.
But our time's far to late,
To waste time on hate.
So just love, and do what you will.
When asked why the man saved the child,
His reasoning wasn't beguiled.
For love's in us all,
And he followed the call.
God looked at him gently, and smiled.
Soul and spirit may fit like a glove.
And both were created above.
The spirit does great,
To reflect like and hate.
But the soul is what gives us our love.
To stress in the morning won't pay.
It's wise to keep worries at bay.
Their presence can cheat you,
And the stress will deplete you.
So just love, and have a good day!
There was an old gambler named Dunn,
Who played lottery games just for fun.
When love touched his core,
And joy filled each pore,
He knew he had already won.
An old dog will strive to appease you.
His mission in life is to please you.
He'll worship your ways,
'Til the end of his days.
It's only with love that he sees you.
My love for my dog will not wane.
I remember with both joy, and pain.
He would stay by my side,
'Til the day that he died.
And ever since then, there's been rain.
When you don't feel the joy that you should,
And you think you've done all you could,
Then go out of your way,
To make someone's day.
It's the love that will make you feel good.
You're given a lifetime of latitude,
With which to adjust your own attitude.
As your character lifts,
You'll discover God's gifts.
And your heart will be filled up with gratitude.
Much gloom is felt, from above,
And your warmth will fly off like the dove.
You won't feel much lower,
And time will pass slower,
When you're missing the one that you love.
When you love, healing powers, you grant.
Life's negatives then become scant.
And if you should ask,
How love does this task,
It won't hear if it's told that it can't.
While some people suffer from vanity,
There are others who see its insanity.
When the truth comes in view,
The love can shine through.
Love's the engine that powers humanity.
When life's trials give waves of dismay,
Your power can keep them at bay.
Think of love at it's best,
And put worries to rest.
Don't let anything ruin your day.
My love, I'm sure, comes from soul.
To stay in that love is my goal.
I know truth when I here it,
And it strengthens my spirit,
But the love in my heart makes me whole.
If a loved one has broken your tie,
And the memory makes you want to cry,
Know the grief that you pay,
Will diminish each day.
But the love in your soul cannot die.
Excerpted from Love, Life, and Laughter in Limericks by Harold Richter Copyright © 2011 by Harold Richter. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsWhat is Love?....................1
What is Life?....................57
Cold & Flu Season:....................81
What is Laughter?....................91
A Christmas Poem:....................134
A Final Point....................136
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Limericks can be fun to read and even to compose. I've composed a couple of my own over the years, but never could I have conceived of writing over six hundred of them. But Harold Richter has done so with a purpose, and he states on the back cover of "Love, Life, and Laughter in Limericks" that publishing this book of limericks has been a "long time ambition." He states that "A few years back, I listened to some audio books, directed towards enlightenment. Though I didn't agree 100% with the authors' views on everything, they did put into words clearly, how they felt love and life work, in a fashion that, for the most part, didn't contradict my own outlooks and experiences." After feeling he knew more about life and love from listening to these books and his own experiences, Richter wanted to write his own insights about them, but he wanted to do so "in an acceptable, enjoyable, and easily understood method." Since he had long been writing poetry, he settled on using the limerick form to convey his ideas to readers. A lot of self-help books are out there, but "Love, Life, and Laughter in Limericks" isn't one of them. Nevertheless, readers might become better people from reading this book-at least, they will feel lighter and happier, and they may come away with a new viewpoint about different aspects of life. And best of all, Richter's use of the short limerick form gets to the point of various matters, often with a sharp twist at the end of the poem, a turn that is often humorous or meaningful or both. Richter's poetry is sometimes sarcastic, sometimes just funny, now and then a bit sad, and frequently insightful; it is never cruel, biting, nor distasteful-he does have a few poems relating to body functions, but nothing too gross or grotesque. It's all in good fun. In case anyone doesn't know what a limerick is, I'll quote a few of my favorites from this collection so readers can get an idea of Richter's style and some of his themes. The book is divided into several sections on different themes, and they appear at first glance to be lengthy poems, but each section is actually composed of numerous five line limericks. The section titles are: "What is Love?" "What is Life?" and "What is Laughter?" Each of these sections begins with a short essay on the topic. Several of the sections are further broken up into groups of poems with such topics as: Ego, Health, Smoking, Government, Cold and Flu Season, and Holidays. Richter adds a few "Extras" at the book's end, poems not in limerick form, one of which pleasantly surprised me for what it reveals about Richter-I'll leave it up to readers to discover what that is for themselves. Overall, the book is thoughtful while being fun and easy to read. It's not Shakespeare, but it succeeds at what it aims at, and while I initially thought a book of limericks might grow tedious after reading a few dozen, it kept my interest throughout. A person could read just one limerick a day and have enough to be entertained for nearly two years, or read the book in a few sittings without being bored. I think I will have the rhythms of these lyrics in my head for many days to come and I will have to try to make up a few more of my own. I recommend "Love, Life, and Laughter in Limericks" for anyone who wants a fun, light, but meaningful book to read. I hope Harold Richter lives to write more limericks and give his readers more laughs. - Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. author of the award-winning "Narrow Lives&qu