This is love. This is intimacy. Part I - LOVE
I recently did a collaboration with a lingerie company, something pretty outside of my normal branding. And I guess that got me thinking about love and intimacy - what they are and what they mean. After that post, I was asked by a follower to write a full post about my thoughts on intimacy, and because I figure that the two go hand in hand, I decided to break them up into two sections :) So here we go:
I think for a really long time I felt that intimacy solely revolved around physical closeness. How could I not? How could we not? The media tells us that physical closeness is the epitome of love and intimacy on a daily basis. And that sucks.
I’m certainly no expert when it comes to love. And I’m definitely not qualified to offer advice to you by any means, but I can tell you what I think and what I believe.
Sometimes I’m not even really sure I know what it is. But I guess I can tell you what I think it is.
I think love is first and foremost the way that you see the world. It then becomes how you choose to move forward with those views.
When I visit big cities like DC, NYC, STL, SF, or CHI with friends and I stop to chat with homeless people, protestors, or groups fighting for a cause, my friends always comment, “You’re not used to the city yet, are you?” A part of me tends to laugh at this, because no…I don’t think I’ll ever get used to ‘living in the city.’ They are still people. We look at them, but we don’t really see them.
Growing up, I watched my mom serve our community as president of our community ktichen back home. I watched her converse with people and get to know their names and their stories. I listened as she mourned deaths that didn’t even make it to the obituary section in our hometown newspaper. Why? Because those souls were just mere shadows to the rest of the world. So no, I will never get used to ‘living in the city.’ Because I see the shadows - and it is in the way that I see the world and in the way that I love. Sometimes love isn’t just throwing money at people, it’s letting them know that you actually see them.
I know that you’re here to talk about relationships, so I suppose that I can speak to what I think love is when it comes to sharing it with another human….
Love is something you can’t really explain. It’s everything wrapped up into one, and no combination of 26 letters mushed together can possibly come up with the proper diction to capture it and do it justice. It’s in the way they speak, the way they move us, they way they inspire us, but most importantly in the way they make us feel.
Screw the love poems. Love isn’t finding your other half - it’s being a whole by yourself and figuring out how do to life with another whole. It’s also not being able to live without that person… it’s knowing that you can live without them, but wanting to live with them anyway.
It’s trying to truly make them happy. It’s buying them flowers without them asking you to, but rather simply because you want to. It’s putting your phone down when they’re near, because in that time and space it’s you and them and no one else.
Love is being there through the most difficult times, so that you can deserve to also be there through the best of times. It’s saying sorry when you know you’re wrong, and sometimes having to put pride to bed. It’s waking up each morning grateful for another gifted 24 hours to spend with your loved ones in the forefront of your mind. And it is treating them as a consideration rather than a convenience, because you know that those two things are completely and utterly different.
It is giving someone the willingness to feel loved, and to feel like they belong somewhere and with someone.
Love is being thoughtful - not because it is expected or obligatory - but because you merely want to and you see the value in investing in relationships. It’s remembering their favorite episode of The Office so you can watch it together when they’re feeling down, or knowing their favorite Christmas carol so you can belt it out together on Christmas Eve. It is making an effort to know their likes and dislikes because my oh my…. they matter.
And most importantly, love is giving your time and attention. Think about it.
What will you be thinking of while you lie on your death bed?
Will it be your fame?
How proud you are of how many grueling hours you spent slaving away in the office?
No. You’ll be thinking about the people sitting next you in that very room, in that very moment. You’ll be wondering if you gave them enough time and attention, and wishing you gave them more. You’ll wish you made a rule to put phones down at family meals to discuss the day, because you’ve finally realized that it’s the small things that make up the big things. You’ll wish you had said yes to that coffee date and cultivated that friendship, or said yes to that friend getaway at the cabin in Aspen, or said yes to that birthday party you suddenly couldn’t go to because work came up. You’ll wish you had put down the phone while you and your partner went to bed each night to end the day with a kiss instead of a tweet. And you’ll wish that you had told that one person that you loved them when you had the chance instead of assuming that they already knew, because you’ve finally realized that we are human and we cannot simply read minds nor can we fully remember how loved we are.
Love is one of the most complex things to fill our world, and yet it remains simple. Love is a decision you make each day. It is how you choose to spend your time, and who you decide to allocate it to.
It’s kind of funny how difficult it is to tell someone how we feel. I wonder if that’s why it makes it so hard to say “I love you.” Maybe I overthink it, or maybe I don’t. It’s like we want those three little words to actually mean something, so we refrain from ever letting that little phrase ever escape our overprotective grasp. And then all of a sudden we let it go - kind of like a release. And then it’s out there in the open, leaving us raw, vulnerable, and human. Embarassment sets in with fear following close behind - a fear that we won’t hear those three little words returned.
But I guess here’s the thing about telling someone you love them… it happens all around us. It’s saying “Text me when you make it home,’ or “Stay off your phone while you’re driving.” It’s sitting in silence when that’s what your partner needs, or doing the dishes without being prompted. It’s treating your mom and dad to a cup of joe and mindful conversation, after they spent 18 years investing in you, loving you without hesitation, or expecting anything in return.
There are a million and one ways to tell someone we love them, but the thing to remember is that we ought to shove fear and embarassment aside. There’s no shame in loving too hard or putting ourselves on the line. Wouldn’t you rather have loved too hard, than to not have loved at all?
As someone who personally struggles to tell my loved ones how I feel, it’s quite honestly been difficult for me to utter those three little words to my friends and family. So if that is you too, please know you are not alone. It’s not as easy for some of us. But I guess for now we can work on finding other thoughtful ways to communicate our love and appreciation until we find the courage to relase those 8 little letters.
I’m only 22, but I hope that someday I’ll be able to look back on my life and recall how hard I loved my family, my friends, my peers and acquaintances, and my partner.
I’d rather love too hard, than not love at all.
And I hope you do too.