The Here Year: Love


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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  1. Posted February 2, 2015 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    When I think of love I remember my eldest and how she used to place a tiny hand to her ear and say, “Mama, can you hear that?” Her eyes would twinkle and she would wait until my eyes met hers, I always felt more than I heard, you know?

    admin Reply:

    I love that image. xox

  2. Posted February 2, 2015 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    I cannot believe it has been almost a year since you two started. That seems unbelievable because if you asked me, I would have said it’s been a few months. I know time is one of your big themes and it’s a good one because it is truly so fleeting that it’s scary.

    Love is a good topic!

    admin Reply:

    Time’s a-flying indeed. xox

  3. Posted February 2, 2015 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Love is a great topic. So many complicated layers, but I do agree that love is a tiny billion little things. Looking forward to hearing your perspective.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! I’d love to hear yours too. xox

  4. Posted February 2, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Yes, all the small, ordinary yet extraordinary moments. I cherish every single one.

    admin Reply:

    I definitely let some go by in moments of aggravation but I really do try …

  5. Melissa
    Posted February 2, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    so very often your thoughts are so eloquently written and make me feel as if you have opened my soul and let the contents spill out …
    I wholeheartedly share the same sentiments about what love means –for me, I would sum it up as ” love is showing up for my beloved” be it by listening to their stories of their day, or making sure all the their socks match when I do their laundry ..
    Blessings and thank you for all you bring to my world with your blog

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much for such a kind comment. I so appreciate your words. Showing up. Yes, yes, and yes. xox

  6. Michelle
    Posted February 2, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I LOVE your writing. I find myself nodding along all the way through, but I could never express these thoughts as eloquently as you do.

    I’m excited to follow along with you and Aidan and this month’s topic as it’s endlessly fascinating to me.


    admin Reply:

    Thank you so, so much. I really appreciate hearing that. This is a big topic, this month! xox

  7. Posted February 2, 2015 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I totally agree–love IS made up of the smallest acts. I don’t need big, sweeping gestures. But send a note in the mail or set the coffee pot up in the morning or start a sentence with “this reminded me of you…”? That’s the stuff right there.

    admin Reply:

    Exactly. A few months ago my husband texted me (he wasn’t home) to look at the sky – it was sunset time – and I know you’ll appreciate why this is one of the most romantic things he’s done for me in a long, long time! xox

  8. Posted February 3, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I love how you can take these great, big topics and make them meaningful. Your comparison to Albert Einstein and his big and small is just perfect. It helps me wrap my mind around the crazy huge idea of love.

    admin Reply:

    Thanks! It really made me think of it. That’s a great picture book, by the way …

  9. Posted February 3, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Sometimes love is almost too big. Almost. Trying to wrap your brain around the love you feel for your child is like trying to understand exactly how big the universe is. Most of the time, though, it is the accumulation of those tiny moments and acts you talk about.

    As an aside, I think the decoration on your door is beautiful. The red one reminds me of a Brigid’s Cross.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! I love that wreath and hanging it every year makes me happy. And yes, enormous and tiny … I wrote a blog post years ago titled (approximately,this is from memory) Motherhood is Enormous and Tiny about this. xox

  10. Posted February 3, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    This is so lovely and true. Love is made up of such small acts of attention. (Sometimes that can be hard – as when friends or loved ones are physically far away or when they don’t make the effort to remain near in other ways.) I love the image of standing in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher, and being heard. This is love. xo

    admin Reply:

    Yes, it can be hard. I think that’s where technology can actually be a positive influence – I find a simple text that says “I’m thinking about you” or a photo with “this made me think of you” tremendously touching. xox

  11. Posted February 3, 2015 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    So beautiful. I lately have been focusing on the small love–the quotidian bits and pieces that ultimately add up to that Bigger, Universe love you so eloquently described. An apology. An offer of help. A cleaning of the kitchen in the way I would want (which is just so). Turning on the electric blanket. My name, whispered into the dark, just before I leave one of theirs rooms.

    admin Reply:

    Yes, yes, and yes. I love that you know exactly what I mean. Kindred, across all those (snowy) miles. xox

  12. Dianna
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    So funny, I just read this post and then looked outside and my heart melted. I saw that my husband had managed to take the recycling to the curb for pick up (a task I always take care of) in the wee hours before he left for a business trip early this morning. It’s -10 degrees and I was walking downstairs dreading heading out to do this. The little things indeed.

    admin Reply:

    It really is, isn’t it? That sounds like a very romantic gesture by your husband!! xox