It’s February already. The month we celebrate Valentine’s Day and everyone we love. Suppose I were to ask a hundred different people to describe what they feel love is. In that case, I’d probably get a hundred or more different answers. And yet, despite these different responses, the feeling we each get when receiving or performing loving acts is the same… an overwhelming sense of warmth, love, affection, and connection to one another. Not only do those we love matter to us, but WE too matter when we are with them.
When we are children, we feel and see love when we are cuddled, teased, and pleased by the people around us. Love secures and encourages us to grow. As teens and adults, we experience the flutters, blushes, and attraction of physical love, making us feel beautiful and significant, propelling us. And when we grow old, love becomes the comforting intangible treasure that we cling to with gratitude, as it emboldens us to accept what lies beyond this life on earth. It seems that Love is a moving force, always driving us forward.
I see and feel love in the most minor and subtle things – like when my husband says, “I’ll cook dinner for us tonight.” Or when we go for a walk, and he silently extends his arm, reaching for my hand. I feel love when my daughter calls me, and even if there isn’t much to say, love hangs in the air between us. And I feel love when my granddaughter hugs her Papa and me when it’s time to leave from a visit, and she holds on tight, not wanting to let go. We feel what we mean to her, and we hope she knows how powerful our love for her is too.
There are a gazillion ways to see and express our love for one another and this world. Love is packed somewhere in every day. But unfortunately, our world has become very good at ignoring it and focusing on the saddest, most tragic, or heinous incidents in humanity. Some days I read headlines and within seconds am overcome by story after story of unbelievable acts of hatred and depravity. Sometimes these horrible truths sink deeply into my brain, and I find myself becoming more negative, skeptical, or just plain angry.
To not be consumed or changed by the anti-love stories the world hurls at us, I think we must instead make ourselves ask, where is the love? Why don’t people know love? Who and what fails them? How can anyone survive in a world without love? I know I can’t. I want to wake up in the morning with a heart that asks, “What will I love today?” I am reminded of Mr. Rogers’ story about his mother telling him, as a child, that in a world filled with dark and scary things, “look for the helpers.” So I guess “look for the love” would be a similar strategy.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone did this? So, I have this idea. What would happen if I made up my mind to anchor every day of this month on the word LOVE. What if every day of February, and heck every month after that, for the rest of my life, began by asking myself, “What will I love today?”
I could make this the first step of each day, like taking a vitamin, and giving it just as much importance as showering, getting dressed, and waking to be part of the world. I could keep a notebook, jotting down where I’ve found examples of love, or note my efforts to express love — a record of love accountability. If I made a conscious effort to look for love every day and review it before going to bed at night, I might sleep better and learn to walk in love more and more throughout each day. My awareness of “love” would be increased and hard-wired into my brain. If I mirrored that to others, they might want to join me.
What is love? Love is a cornucopia of feelings, and our interpretation of love changes with time. Love is also in our actions, choices, and how we perceive things. My challenge to you all is to hang your days on LOVE. Carve out a minute for awareness of love every day, and keep moving toward it. We have nothing to lose.
This month’s Recommended Read is The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise (Harper Collins, 2019), a sweet story about the domino effect of love actions.
And if you’re looking for a “love” project to share with your children, check out my activities page for how to make a colorful Valentine Heart Suncatcher.
2 thoughts on “What is Love?”
So awesome Julie! Such a well-written inspiring article. I just bought Mac Barnett’s, What is Love, PB. It reminds me of this post. I need to check out The Love Letter as well. You have great recommendations and wonderful posts. Thanks for the inspiration!
Thank you so much, Sharon. I’ll have to check out that book! I appreciate all your book recommendations too.