For Valentine’s Day, consider two lessons one may eventually learn about love. First, love is finite. Second, “love” is a verb.
First, remember that all love is finite. No matter how much you and your partner love each other, there is a good chance that one day you will lose that living connection to that person. Maybe your lover will leave you. Maybe you will leave your lover. But even if you both stay devoted to each other for the rest of your lives — unless you both happen to die in your sleep on the same night next to each other — one of you will go first, leaving the other alone.
All love is eventually lost. That is true whether we are talking about an amorous partnership, a family member, or a pet. We eventually lose all of our loves.
I know you are thinking, “Hey, it is Valentine’s Day, why are you being so depressing?” Well, one reason to recognize the limits on our love is so every day we prepare ourselves a little for that day when the end comes. You will never be prepared, but if you believe love is infinite, then the heartbreak, when it is sure to come, may be worse.
More importantly, another reason you need to remember that love is finite is so you will appreciate it when you have it. If you take a moment every day to remember that every day will not be like today, you will enjoy today and your love a little more.
The second lesson is to remember that “love” is a verb. This lesson comes from the singer Dion.
In his memoir Dion: The Wanderer Talks Truth, singer-songwriter Dion DiMucci recalled one day when he was young and facing marital difficulties, he ran into the priest from his neighborhood. The priest asked how he was doing. The troubled Dion responded that he thought he was no longer in love with his wife. The priest replied something to the effect, “Then love her. Love is a verb.”
We too often think of “love” as a noun, as in, “I’m in love with this person.” If you look at “love” as a noun, you see it is a magical thing that happened and is beyond your control. That may be fine, but if you see it as a magic potion, then some day you will be surprised to discover that magic potions fade.
As Gretchen Wilson has told us, sometimes there are days when one may not feel like loving the person they love.
If instead of thinking of yourself as “being in love,” you recognize “love” is a verb. Then, you see love as a choice and obligation. Every day, “I choose to love you,” not “I happen to be in love with you.”
Thus, when things get rough, remember that you can still love that person even if you don’t feel like it in the moment. And if you are lucky enough to have somebody or something to love, treasure each finite moment. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Photo by Chimesfreedom (at the British Museum). Leave your two cents in the comments.
(Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)