Love – it rocks. No, seriously, looking at someone and knowing they love you and seeing that love shine from their eyes and get reflected back from mine, it’s awesome. It adds colour to a black-and-white world, and gives everything an added dimension of wow. It changes the appearance of everything – all of a sudden, wrinkles become laugh lines and skin splotches become birth marks and everyone looks beautiful.
It’s like that children’s story I was told as a kid – “the most beautiful woman”. So, the town was having a party and everyone gathered at the park to enjoy the town picnic. As kids do, little Tanya wandered very far from her mama, got lost, and she was very small – just three, and having just learned what words are all about. She found a grown-up and said she was looking for her mama, whose name was Marsha. This wasn’t very helpful, of course, in that 80% of the women in that town had the name Marsha. The adults asked about her mama and she said that mama was very pretty – prettiest in town. Then she burst into tears and they could get no more out of her. ‘Pretty Marsha’ was found – but it was not her kid. Nor was it ‘Tall Marsha’s’, ‘Plump Marsha’s’, ‘Young Marsha’s’ ‘Sweet Marsha’s’ or any other Marsha that the townsfolk could think of. Then a woman hesitantly walked up and said, ‘have you seen my daughter? We were in the fields and…’ It was ‘Ugly Marsha’, known as the most homely woman in that town, who generally stayed on the sidelines. ‘There she is,’ said Tanya! ‘Prettiest mama in town.’ That’s what love does.
Sometimes it stinks. It hurts to love someone and not have that love returned. It can rob everything else of flavour. It can cause people to do silly things that are unhealthy or dangerous. It can lead to tears and explosions, broken things and broken hearts. Even when everything seems to work, love hovers near obsession and possessiveness, jealousy and manipulation. Making sure that one is on the right side of that thin line is not simple. You can try to ignore the negative stuff but it sneaks in.
It’s not a four-letter word for nothing, you know! I’ve heard so many people weigh in on what it means and when it’s appropriate to use it and to whom, that it’s become almost meaningless. I’ve been told to take it lightly, to make it real, to give it my all, to be careful with it, to embrace it wholeheartedly, to make it casual, to treat it lightly, and to treat it with care. I’ve been told just about everything.
Rationally, love makes only a limited amount of sense. We do not pick a beloved because she’ll be the most useful, productive, intelligent, compatible, caring person we know. We pick someone we love. There is no real good reason for us to love our siblings, our kids or our parents – we just love. Of course, there are those who say that that love is a complex collection of hormones designed to ensure we have a compatible physical mate and an adrenaline based reaction that ensures the propagation of the species. To me, this is a cheap answer – one that doesn’t address all the complexities of emotion, that doesn’t inform, and most importantly – that guides poorly. The thing about love is that it just is.
And I believe in it. For better or worse, in sickness and health, I believe we love, and we should love. I work hard to put love at the top of my reasons for behaving a particular way. I think it’s worth dedicating oneself to love, and looking at actions and asking, “will this increase the amount of loving there is in the world?” I believe in excited first-blush-of-discovery love and tender kiss-on-your-little-head love, and painful the-whole-world-is-a-void love, and all the other loves big and little in the world.
I won’t give up on love. I’m going to keep doing whatever it takes to make those connections happen. For those times when love rocks, I will give it all I’ve got and all I am. Loving someone takes precedence over getting work done, over any other activity. In fact, I try (mostly I fail) to have it inspire those activities – why am I working on this project? Because I love doing it, or because I love so&so and it will make her happy, or because I love myself and it will make me healthier or happier.
I think if I was going to make a religion, that would be the one word I’d use in it. “Love.” I know. It’s tired. It’s overused. It’s boring. Blah, blah, blah, love your neighbour, blah – but then, let it in and it’s crystal clear and funny and beautiful. “Love your neighbour. Love yourself. Love anyone. Love.” It’s worth it.