Everything is a love poem.
Someone said this recently.
I think they were joking because their tone was a bit flippant.
But after he said it he let a long pause hang in the air.
And the pause felt like a challenge.
I guess I would like to believe that everything is a love poem.
I admit I embarrass myself. Am I just a silly girl?
Yet there is a whole lot of love tucked into nearly every day: A smile from a stranger, the cat that follows you down the driveway, the extra cheese someone put on your sandwich, the feel of the wind on your cheek, an evening swim, a pink sky, music on the radio, cold ice in a drink, the feel of a warm embrace. Right now my big old red dog is laying down under a tree and sniffing the air. If he catches me looking at him he will feel the need to come stand by me, and in doing so he will have to move his arthritic hips. I look quickly away so he will not struggle. Love, love, and more love.
Of course we can’t dismiss the broken hearts, the divorces, the deaths.
Yet these hurt because they showcase another side of love: the loss of it, the memory of it, the importance of it.
Then there is self love. Contrary to what our media feed may tell us self love is not a day at the spa or a healthy meal delivery from an internet box service. True self love depends upon unconditional love.
The first time I considered the meaning of “unconditional love” was after a text from our family therapist. She implied that I might have been lacking it. She sent it upon the aftermath of my umpteenth midnight run to pick up my screaming daughter from a police lock up. The therapist was wrong. Nothing my child did or said could have made me love her less. I was just not willing to equate loving her with letting her go. I was not willing to “live and let live.”
Sometimes I criticize myself for all the time spent “loving” her – often at the expense of the other members of my family, and my own. (If you think you are hard on yourself ask a mother of an addict how she feels deep down inside.)
I had a fabulous therapist for a year who asked the most ridiculous questions: what kind of wild animal did you see today? what is your love language? But she was also spot on. She brought me back to the love that was all around me (that old dog under the tree, that cheese on my sandwich, that pink sky).
Unconditional self love, however, is a strange concept. We misinterpret it. We think a self improvement regimen is as an act of self love. Or we recite our strengths to feel worthy of it. But self love requires something completely different. It requires accepting that mountain of other, quieter, stuff; our operating quirks, our bias, our mistakes. That mountain grows as we get older. Maybe that is why so many of us address it later in life.
My New Year’s resolution is to take time to sit quietly. To sit quietly atop my mountain of stuff. And I am going to write some love poems. And I am going to let them fly.