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Love

Friday 2/9/24

Late start today. My bad. Just wrote a Valentine's op-ed on love. This is from it:


“Love” is a word that we use all the time now, like it’s this commonplace thing. It gets misused with regularity. We’re told “love is love,” as if love was as plentiful as oxygen, but what actually is love? Love is conflated with tolerance, attraction, need, politics, activism, making a buck. We “fall in love,” but do we really? Or does love—actual love—require a lot more from us?


What almost no one ever talks about with love is that it’s a choice. Love is an active process of awareness and decision. We can’t love by accident. We love with intention.


Think of all the times you’ve told someone in your life that you loved them. How many of those people did you really love such that their well-being was your first concern? Did you really love your eighth grade girlfriend? Or was she this really cool person who helped you have a special experience in life and you thought what you thought and did what you did for other reasons?


We are increasingly less active people in the human-ing sense. We don’t like to do things without a guarantee that they’ll work out a certain way. We’re not seekers who go out and find. We rely on what’s trending to come to us. We will not go to the river to drink when buckets of its water will instead be transported to our door.


This doesn’t account for a make-up that favors loving and loving well. When we love well, we make conscious determinations. We will take down our walls. We will be vulnerable. The time has come for us to put ourselves out there and risk, for we may be hurt, disappointed, and even left.


Someone might interject, “What about falling in love!”


That’s different. Falling in love may be a preface to love, but it’s not love. The latter isn’t an automatic or accidental process. You don’t wake up one morning and say, “Gosh, I love this person I’ve been with. What do you know?”


When I was a teenager, I read Romeo and Juliet and was dubious. I thought, “These two don’t really love each other. It’s other things.” It was kind of like the witches of Salem not really being witches. Which isn’t to bring Halloween to bear on Valentine’s Day so much as to say that love is precious in part because of what it requires of us. Recognition, decision, action. Emotional action.


With love, someone else’s health, happiness, and wholeness comes first to us. In being this way, we learn more about ourselves, and in that learning we grow.


So many people are with people because they don’t want to be alone. Or life reached a stage and they thought it was decision time. “If I want this, I need to do this now.” “I can’t take another Christmas on my own.”


That’s not love. Those are situations that may work out as something else. It isn’t an awful thing that love is rare and requires much. That’s how anything precious works.



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