Love: A Favorite Word

We are nearing Valentine’s Day, and while the current traditions of this holiday may be a topic of contention, I choose to celebrate the day in honor of love. Not solely romantic love, but the existence of it in all its many incarnations. It also happens to be a favorite word of mine. It’s a simple word at first glance – just four little letters, after all – but it’s a favorite because it can trigger endless pondering. Like “God”, “universe”, or “soul” it is a word that is exquisitely simple and infinitely intricate. It all depends on how you use it and what it means to you.

I wouldn’t say love is something to be feared, but just like the depths of an ocean or the great height of a mountain, love is something to be respected. You can welcome it for its beauty, for its healing, you can even prop it up against you to crutch through difficult days, but always it must be respected for the power it holds.

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Love holds power that I don’t believe humans can fully comprehend. Just as we know that we have not even come close to identifying all of the organisms in the waters of our earth, we have only begun to catalog and inventory the true purpose and potential of love. Simply put, it’s a word we take for granted. We profess our love for paint colors, coffee cups, and the shoes on our feet. Slightly deeper, we might announce our adoration for a film that particularly moved us to laughter or tears, a song that rippled chill bumps up our arms, even a book that put words to our deepest secrets and a name to our greatest fears.

 

I imagine levels of love to move down as they grow, rather than rising to new heights. To me, the greater the love, the deeper it has burrowed into our souls. Simple love is the bloom on a spindly branch of a tree, momentary but yielding easy appreciation. The deepest of love grows, reaching into the rich earth as roots supplying all nourishment a soul might need.

The love you feel for a partner, for your child, for your family – these all stand solidly in the trunk of the tree. They are foundational loves. They are the loves that you draw strength from when life rattles you. They are the loves that we are most concerned with, the loves we most desperately fear to lose. We agonize over it. For without our trunks, how can the blossoms bloom? How can the roots forage? Death or dissolution of these loves can cease and seize the life from flowing within us if we let it. These sorts are strong and can stir passions, achievement, even heroics, but they still allow the side effects of the earthy human experience. Jealousy, expectation, disappointment. I don’t wish to cast a shadow on them, as I feel them deeply myself, but I acknowledge the fragility of them. While they may not ever break, they can chip and fray with hurt feelings and things left unsaid.  

So what are the roots, you ask. The roots of love are made of the oldest and most ancient of loves. Unconditional. “But I love my children unconditionally!” My husband, my wife, my mother, my father, sister, brother, and on we go. Yes. Yes, of course, you do. But truly unconditional love does not stop with the name or title of one person. Or even many people. Unconditional love, the kind that burrows deep into the very nature of humanity, the very gift of consciousness we have achieved as human beings, is the love of all people without requirement or design. Understanding is not required. Introductions, not required. Sameness, common history, belief, morals, anything at all. The roots of love, as I see it, are for growing past what we can see and easily comprehend, and accepting the sustenance of that power without question.

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At the heart of unconditional love, is the love of self. It is in recognizing that every word misspoke or intentionally aimed, every judgment reflected, every dimple, wrinkle, or scar – they are all perfect. Even in our worst moments, there is purpose. Purpose sprouts from the acknowledgment of, “Yes, I can grow from this.” Loving yourself isn’t conceit, it isn’t prideful, and it is not undeserved. Celebrate that this week. Yes, I’m being bossy-britches about this, but please. Celebrate love unconditionally for what you know of it, what you haven’t yet discovered, for what you feel for others, and what you should feel for yourself.

I love you — now get back to your roots.

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Writer’s Block

She sits in her bed, wanting a comfortable, quiet place to write. It’s the weekend, and while one kid is napping and the other is quietly watching her husband playing a game, the void of “nobody needs me right now” has apparently not made enough room to be productively creative today.

The blinking vertical line at the top of the page starts to look like a tapping foot as she stares at it, waiting for inspiration. She is kicking herself for not drafting something sooner, reflecting on the excuses she bought time with during the week. But a deadline is a deadline, even if it is self-imposed.

More staring…blink…blink…blink.

She could write about writer’s block, and she starts to, clinging to the idea for dear life, only to find that having writer’s block about writer’s block is a singularly discouraging and frustrating thing.

She knows what she wants to write for the next post, but she can’t bump it up because it’s time sensitive. It has become glaringly obvious to her that the schedule she’s been putting off making for herself is desperately needed. She starts to distract herself with that but then realizes it’s just another thing to be doing instead of writing so she closes the tab she just opened and starts staring at the blinking cursor again.

The cat and one of the dogs are both asleep at the foot of the bed, and as she finds herself wishing she could just roll over and conk out too, she starts to question her location choice. Writing in bed is comfortable, but the blank space in her mind where words usually show up is soft and beckoning like the pillows behind her and now drowsiness has joined the party.

She starts to type again, just to start something, and a narration of her current status is all that comes out. It’s sad, and will likely be entirely uninteresting to her readers, but it’s all she’s got right now. The annoyingly loud tick of her watch matches the blinking of the damn vertical line and her eyes widen in irritation. The universe is mocking her.

All the notes she has about future topics seem dumb, and the inspiration train has still not pulled into the station. She pouts. She fidgets. She welcomes the distraction when her husband comes in to sweetly ask if she needs anything. She welcomes the ping of someone messaging her on another tab. She knows she should close it, but then the ticking watch and blinking line would be her only company.

The dog is snoring. Lightly, but the even sound of a dreaming canine is lulling her to sleep, so she sits straight up. No more cushy pillows to cradle her, she goes back to the narration and rolls her eyes at herself for still not having anything better to write about today. But that’s how it goes sometimes. There are days when nothing but choppy, random sentences make it to the page. There are days when every word seems wrong or weak or boring. But she still writes them. It may not make up very much at the end of the day, but it’s still writing.

She writes a short apology to her readers for not producing something more interesting this go round. Reminds them of her introductory post and how she warned them that sometimes she would fail. She thanks them for their patience and hopes they like the better-planned post that’s promised for next time.

Failure is just a launch pad for growth. Mistakes are inspiration for learning. Weaknesses recognized are seeds planted to reap wisdom.

The writer excuses herself to go tend her garden.

Effervescence

A word is just a word, you say. It sits prettily on a page, meaning nothing until read, and then it delivers a message before falling back into silent passivity, waiting for its turn to come round again. It is black lines on white plains, printed footprints of where the writer’s mind has wandered. But still, just lines. Simple. Unassuming. Certainly, nothing to fuss over. Just words…right?

I see them as so much more. Like a photographic negative, you can hold them up in front of you and there’s a picture there, but it’s vague. You can only make out enough from the shadows and lines to know what the object of the picture is. But, when you set it on a lit table, suddenly the details burst forth. There is color, fine shades of distinction, a luminescence that brings the object to life. Some words have a  life like this all on their own. Their mere existence holds power that lights feeling without effort. However, words come to life differently from person to person. Words often have a history with the reader. They’ve often met before, but the circumstances of their first rendezvous can change entirely the relationship between word and reader.

This entry is the beginning of a microscopic look into that relationship. I’ll share words I love, words I avoid, and why they sing for me the way they do. Remember, communication is key and words are layered with meaning beyond their definition.

And so, to begin. A little fun with — effervescence.

Like bubbles? I can hear you asking. Yes, but wait! There’s more. But isn’t it interesting that that’s where your mind went first? Just by reading the word, I can feel the tickle of it on my tongue even though the word has only visited my mind. I can imagine the small bubbles of a favorite cool drink and the bright and refreshing quality of them, but that is only one use of this cheerful word.

Just as the word dances, so does the soul of the person who holds the trait. Their energy is light and airy, enthusiastic and bold in a joyful sort of way. They are the people who smile with ease and laugh with an honest appreciation for all the silly and wonderful things the world offers.

It is a child bounding through a door to greet a parent long awaited, the anticipation and excitement having built over many hours spent peeking out the window, fogging the glass with quick, warm breaths.

It is a young woman sipping champagne with friends as they admire the future displayed on her finger. She is happy in a way that cannot seem to be contained by her body and she begins those smile lines in earnest as she talks and listens and talks some more, eye on her giddy horizon.

It is the receiver of good news anticipated, but not banked upon. The electricity of gratitude and hope for what it means is running through their body, and the feelings threaten to bubble over in laughter for it must go somewhere.

In all these painted pictures, you can feel the glow and liveliness of these people. Their effervescence. The magic of a word and the images and feeling it can induce…it’s beautiful. And whether a soulful resonance or an intricate firing of synapses are to blame, I certainly enjoy the experience. Maybe you’ll start your own little list of words that spark more, and, if you do, please share them with me. ❤

I hope you and yours have a beautiful holiday season filled with love, family, and friends.

Much love,

Kelsey