Love. The capacity to love is an intimate component of what makes us human. It is the first thing that we experience in life and if we are truly fortunate, the last as well. We love our family, our friends, our pets, our food, our possessions, our favorite TV shows, our thoughts, the sound of our own voice and some of us even love misery. With all this love going around, you would think we would be a lot happier. Really, sit back some time and spend a few hours counting how many times you hear the word LOVE in conversation, commerce or communication.
I have often thought and said that the words we choose to use are important. They have meaning and power beyond the obvious. And context is equally important. Don’t think so…the next time you are standing in the checkout line, turn around say “I love you” to the person behind you. Watch the reaction. Unless that person is related to you, a friend of yours or either very young or, well, very mature they are likely to think you are just one or two cards short of a full deck. Yet, you could turn around to that same person and say “ I love cheeseburgers, my collection of antique nose hair trimmers, Dora the Explora, and singing in the shower,” and that same person would think nothing of it. Ok, they might think you are a little odd but not as odd as if you just said “I love you” to them.
What I think is sad about that, is that it is perfectly ok to overuse the word in almost every other context except the one that it was created for, to express the deep and sincere affection that one person has for another. It is sad that we can freely love things but not each other, sometimes not even ourselves. I have been guilty of that, and may still be guilty. I suppose that it is a part of what makes us human.
The major events of a lifetime can change that, but all too often it wears off after a time. When my daughter was born, it was the most amazing event in my life. She has been told thousands, probably tens of thousands of times “I love you.” For her, no matter what and no matter where, I do love her unconditionally. So why don’t I love others with the same lack of conditions? I suppose that I do, but I may not show it. And then again I suppose that I don’t.
Why can’t I love like this is the last mortal moment that I will have? If I think about that, and I am thinking about that now, there are a number of reasons:
1) I am shy and have difficulty expressing my feelings
2) I do not want to experience the rejection of my sincere affection
3) Our societal norms do not reinforce this idea even though many if not most religious beliefs do
4) Forgive me all, growing up as a male of the species, I am emotionally stunted
5) It just seems awkward
6) Everyone who knows me would wonder what happened to the real me
You get the point. Yet I know that we are all the same. The difference between you and me is miniscule on a biological or molecular level. The difference between you and me may be incomprehensible on an experiential level. Yet we really are all the same. We want security, love, a little recognition every now and then… so why not?
Truly, I have been moving in that direction for about four years. There have been starts and stops. Much has changed, because I wanted it to. Much still needs to evolve, because I want it to. Will I ever be Mother Theresa? Doubtful. But I can love myself like this is my last moment. I can love and show that love to others around me and with time, patience and mindfulness I can express those feelings if I am very fortunate, I may be able to love like this is my last moment.
What could you do if? You could love like this moment was your last?