At first, I fell. Into my husband’s eyes and his heart. Now, though, I often forget the falling. I know he does, too. That was a lifetime ago – three lifetimes ago, actually. We work to love, not because it is hard to do (though it can be), but because it is so easy – with all of the other things in the world – to forget how we started on this adventure.
For love, there must be intimacy and trust. There must be kindness and time, given and received. We must put away our screens and look at each other. We must listen.
Our phones have been our biggest obstacle to connecting. It is so much easier to scroll through people than to focus on our actual people, to comment quickly rather than to think deeply and respond with great care and heart to one another. Our world moves more quickly than when we started together. Moving more quickly, however, does not get us connected more deeply. There’s only longhand for that: only the real stuff – face-to-face talking, listening, responding, understanding, caring – does that.
Only the real stuff is what matters at the end of the day, at the end of a life – all throughout a life, actually.
If you have one person who you love, who loves you, one being whose eyes light up when she sees you, if you can remember what that feels like and can offer that to anyone else in the world, that’s the whole beautiful piece of love for me. That’s how the world goes around. That’s what we celebrate in our house today. It is not about coupledom or marriage or any other construct; it is about flat-out love for our fellow humans with whom we share space and soul.
This girl of mine and I went shopping the other day. She was going to pick out a treat for herself, but I could tell that she was picking out something just to say she got something. I said, “Don’t just get something to get something. We can try again another day. Only get something that you really want, that really makes you happy.”
She put down the cheap, crappy hat she was carrying and said, “This is not the thing I really want.”
Then, we went home and she made this wonderfully ridiculous construction paper bow headband because this was the thing she really wanted; this was the thing that really made her happy. This was the thing she loved. It didn’t look like anything else we saw and, yet, it was exactly perfect for her.
So many times we stick with something just because we want SOMETHING. We want it to count as having something, even if that something doesn’t feel like exactly what we want, even when we shove it on us or into us to fill us up. Sometimes, that’s life and it’s fine.
Other times, though, it’s best to let go of the things that are just taking space for the thing we actually want, the thing or the person we’d actually love. If she’d gotten the hat, she’d never have made this bow headband. She’d never have danced around with it on her head, made a matching dress with a matching story – she’d have had none of that happiness.
How many times is that the case for us? With people we hang on to because we aren’t sure there is anything better? Because we think that being alone feels worse? (It does at first, if you’re not used to it, FYI.) Because working hard for the love we want feels like too much hard work?
The love I like to celebrate is the deep, dirty, hard-working love that gets messy lots of times, that sometimes feels like too much work because there is not enough time, that especially feels like too much work when there looks like a perfectly pre-packaged facsimile that can be purchased somewhere else. And shipped to your door for free.
It can’t be purchased. It can’t be faked. You might fall for it in the beginning, sure, but for it to stay – for it to be real and honest and heartfelt, for it to have eyes and ears – you’ve got to work for it. We do at least. And most every other couple or person who practices loving well does, too, from what I’ve seen. At least from time to time.
Happy love day to all of you who work hard to love yourselves and your people. It’s the best nectar out there, but you’ve got to climb the damn tree.
Keep climbing. Take breaks when you need them. Make things that make you happy, ginromous-bowed headbands included.