To quote John Mayer, "Love ain't a thing. Love is a verb." I think about that often, especially on Valentine's Day when sentimentality runs high and there is this notion of 'the loving feeling.' No disrespect to those who are giving cards, chocolates, and flowers or writing sonnets or limericks on construction paper hearts. I'm all in favor of love, but it's the feeling part that always falls flat to me. Besides, in the midst of all of Cupid's arrows being slung hither and yon, I think about people I love who are out there in the muck of life enduring the hardest moments you can comprehend. In the midst of tragedy that hits close to home, your mind starts shedding dead weight and getting down to the heart of the matter. And in between the tears, you begin to formulate a plan for how you can make a difference...how you can take what little you have and try to bring some measure of hope or happiness to your loved one. Flowers wilt in a matter of days and cards get packed into boxes, but real love? It has a chance to flourish in the midst of what feels like emotional ruins.
In my mind, love is palpable. It is proactive. It is the choice to put in work. It is presence, support, and hugs. It is grief and sorrow for another's pain - and for your own. It is generosity and patience. It is remembering important moments and the random, mundane ones as well. It is swallowing pride and selfish ambition to see another happy and successful. It is protection. It is safety. It is knowing and being known. It is laughter over drinks and dinner. It is giving advice and lending a listening ear. It is choosing kindness over anger when you're in a bad mood. It is organization projects and peanut butter sandwiches and picking up band-aids at the drugstore on the way home. It is acceptance. It is telling the truth, even when the words are hard. It is nicknames and birthday presents and inside jokes. It is the tears running down your face and onto someone else's lapel. It is sacrifice and joy. It is filling up and pouring out. It is admitting when you're wrong and being gracious when you're right. It is the song that sticks in your brain for weeks on end. It is prayers breathed into the wind. It is beach vacations and long drives with the windows down. It is trips to Target and heart-to-heart conversations in a quiet office at work. It is the promise that, even when things are messy, you'll stick close by. It is also moving on and letting go if/when the time comes. It is wishing someone the absolute best and extending true forgiveness after years of anger and frustration. It is celebrating every miracle, big and small. It is light for the path when all around feels like darkness. It is the quiet whisper of birds taking flight in a field. It is the gentle touch and the tight squeeze. It is the strength to keep trying. It is the signs that follow you everywhere you go. It is the push of labor that brings you into this world. And it is the grace that, in your last breath, leads you home.
'So you gotta show, show, show me.
Show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
That love is a verb.'