It’s February, and the Here Year is drawing to a close. It’s hard to believe. This month’s topic is love. I can’t wait to read what Aidan has to say on this (substantial) topic and to spend some time thinking and writing about it myself.
I believe that the basic building block of love is presence.
I wrote before that friendship is made of attention and that’s actually true for all kinds of love. Love underlies all, doesn’t it? It’s the alpha and the omega, the reason we get up in the morning, what we think about before we go to bed at night. I don’t just mean romantic love. I mean love for our families and our friends, love for our work and our hobbies, love for the things we read and think about and do and the people we encounter.
Just last week, in answering questions designed to build vulnerability and hence closeness, I asserted that what I really want out of friendship is someone who stays near, no matter what. This is true of love. What love means to me is being heard and listened to, someone standing with me in the kitchen while I unload the dishwasher, someone remembering to inside out their socks before putting them in the laundry just because I asked them to, someone believing that I meant well even if I messed up.
Love is abiding.
And love, like life itself, is made up of a zillion small moments. Years ago I wrote about the dailiness of life, observing that “we build our lives – our commitments, our desires, our identities – through quotidian acts that can feel infinitessimal and meaningless as we enact them.” I think you could substitute the word “love” for “life,” and it is absolutely as true.
Love is made up of the smallest acts.
Whit and I read a wonderful book this weekend called On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne. It tells the story of Albert Einstein’s life and at one point talks about how he was interested in things enormous (the universe) and tiny (the atom). That’s what love feels like to me in some ways: simultaneously unfathomably big and exceedingly miniscule. Both of these characterizations make it hard to really grasp. But I’m pretty sure love is composed of our attention, and is built out of an infinite number of small things.
What does love mean to you?
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