When I write these columns, I try to stick to subjects I know at least a little bit about. Because this one is being published on Valentine’s Day, I feel compelled to also give it a seasonal theme.
But what do I know about love?
I know this: I love my family. Our two boys are the best collaboration my husband and I ever accomplished. I can’t imagine my life without the three of them.
My siblings are also part of my family, and I love them too – and their offspring, reaching now to the great-great-grandchildren of our late parents.
I love my friends, those people in my life who actually give a damn about our relationship – the ones I could call right this minute who would be in my driveway in less than an hour if I needed them, the ones for whom I would do the same.
In addition to people, I have other loves.
I love sitting by our fire pit with family and friends. I could do that just about every weekend.
I love getting dressed up occasionally for a fancy event, but I couldn’t do that every weekend.
I love our little house. (It doesn’t qualify for “tiny house” status, unless one is used to a spacious Lowcountry mansion.) I love our bees in the hive outside. They think they have a mansion.
I love a cold beer on a warm day. I love warm days.
I love those Egyptian cotton, zillion-count hotel sheets. I love travel, dogs, home-grown tomatoes, art.
I love presents – choosing them and giving them. (I also don’t mind receiving them.)
Other than the human “objects” of my affection, I’ve named a lot of stuff. I’d hazard a guess that you have your own diverse list of people and stuff.
Is that okay? Or should we reserve our love for other people? Can we really “love” things and experiences?
I used to think that “real” love (beyond the kind we have for our family and friends) was an overwhelming sense of passionate caring about someone, and I spent a lot of time trying to find that. I wanted that special guy who would whisk me off my feet and dazzle me. I wanted the knight in shining armor, the prince, the Marlboro man.
At some point, I realized love doesn’t always (nor often!) happen like that.
Even later, I started to think that it’s okay to say we “love” things or experiences. It simply means we have strong feelings about them – good feelings.
If we think about how our favorite things make us feel, it makes sense. Soft cotton sheets make us feel warm, comforted. Our homes make us feel safe, secure, no matter the size or location. Art makes us feel connected to the people who made it, even if we don’t know them.
Pets give us a sense of kinship that needs no words, a feel-good connection that easily flows back and forth.
And all those good feelings are pretty much the same as those we seek in our relationships with other humans. We want to feel comfortable and comforted, at ease and engaged, connected, safe, warm.
And isn’t that what love is all about?