Have you ever found yourself trying to remember a name or a place and a friend begins to run through a list to jog your mind? “No, not that,” “That’s not it,” and “Something similar, but no,” you say. And sometimes you may even find it necessary to describe what something is not in order to accurately depict what it actually is. So is the case today, as I attempt to describe what love is in honor of tomorrow’s holiday. I believe in this case it is best to begin with precisely what love is not.
Despite all you will see around you tomorrow, love is not pink and red decorations, rose petals, or a teddy bear with a light-up heart that goes boom, boom, boom. And much to the chagrin of our stomachs, love is not a fancy dinner, a box of chocolates, or even those little “I Luv U” and “B Mine” Sweetheart Candies, which everyone loves to hate. Love isn’t even handwritten cards or letters, a sultry smile, or the perfect kiss. “So, what’s left?” you ask. The answer: love.
Love is everything that is left when all our fascinations and superficial ideas about it are stripped away. Love is a listening ear and a supportive shoulder to a partner in a time of need. Love is working together to achieve a common goal. Love is being there when the going gets tough. I remember hearing the story of an elderly couple who routinely sat down at the kitchen table each night and while the husband peeled an apple to share with his bride of fifty-plus years, the two discussed their lives, their hopes, and their dreams. Every night. That’s a lot of apples! And that is love.
Love doesn’t come at perfect times, convenient times; it doesn’t even always come at happy times. Who among us hasn’t experienced more fully the love of a spouse, a family member, or a friend at the lowest, darkest times of our lives?
Love is not an emotion to be celebrated every February 14th then tossed aside for another year. Love is the driving force behind a million different moments around the world every single day. Love is sacrifice; love is selflessness; love is surrender. Love motivates us to do great things no matter how small the act, to do beautiful things no matter how ugly the circumstances. Despite the cliché, love makes the world go ‘round.
I hope you’ll join me in keeping it going around each and every day by sharing our unique capacity to love one another. Not with excessive cards, red roses, or balloons; not even with boxes of chocolates and plush stuffed animals; but rather with our hearts.