No Love For The 95!
In 1967 the Beatles had a hit song called “All You Need is Love”. Just 2 short years later, they would perform as a group for the last time. By this time, the love amongst the bandmates had been a thing of the past. The love was gone! Disdain had the taken the place of love within the group. Adored by millions, known throughout the world, bigger than Jesus according to John Lennon, yet they didn’t survive. What if they were wrong? What if love isn’t all you need?
The last song the Beatles recorded, as a group, contains the sentiment “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”. On the verge of walking away from all they had built, maybe they were correcting their assertion from the previous song. That’s conjecture on my part for sure but, for the sake of this conversation, I’m going to run with it.
It appears that we humans want nothing more than to be loved. So much of our identities get wrapped up in what people think about us or feel toward us. We honor celebrities and dream of walking in their shoes when we see them adored by the masses. Longing to experience this intense, and seemingly unreachable, level of love and adoration. If we are honest this is shallow and misguided. We aren’t meant to be loved by everyone nor are we meant to love everyone.
Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves what love is? Can we actually define it? Is love even definable? I’m sure most of us can say we have experienced love in some way but most of us can’t properly describe it. Further, I bet your definition of love has evolved over time. For example, I was sure that I was madly in love with the first girl that I slept with, until, of course, she stopped having sex with me. A few years later, I was sure I was in love again this time it lasted close to a decade before the love faded and my definition evolved. Again! You might think that a bad example but I am about to make a point so bare with me.
I have also experienced a love I can’t describe. In a hospital room after a nurse put my newborn son in my arms for the first time and then again when my daughter was born. That love hasn’t faded at all, in fact, it’s strengthened. It’s so strong that no matter what my kids do to push my buttons, or test their limitations, my love for them is never questioned. There’s a depth to this love that defies all logic and reason. What is the difference between the previous love I described and the love I have for my children? It’s simple, one is deep the other is shallow.
I can love my children to the fullest of my ability because there’s only 2 of them. I have plenty of love to give. I have a niece and a nephew, I love them both dearly but it’s a different love than I have for my own children. It’s not my job to love them the way I love my children, that’s their parent’s job. Frankly, If I loved them the way I love my own children it would actually take value away from the love that I have for my kids. It would take away from the uniqueness of the love I share with them.
To drive the point home a little more, I also have 4 siblings. I love them all in their own special way. I have a number of friends whom I consider close friends and whom I also love. My love for my friends is different than my love for my siblings. My love for my close friends is different than my love for my not so close friends if I even love them at all. Just keeping it real.
If I’m completely honest, I generally don’t like most people. The people close to me know that. As a result, they know that when I tell them that I love them, which I do because it means something to me that they know, they know that I mean it. They know I’m not saying it to be cute, they know that my love for them isn’t shallow, they know it’s real and it’s heartfelt.
I recently had a conversation with one of my close friends whom I love (You should know that if you’re paying attention). My friend said, “If there are 100 people in the room I just want to love all 100 of them!” I proceeded to tell him that this was a terrible idea! Why you might ask? If you can only give 100% of your love and there are 100 people in the room, every person only gets 1%! What’s that love even worth? What gives it value? What gives it depth? What makes it unique?
The truth is there’s nothing unique in that scenario. You can’t build 100 loving relationships without spreading yourself far too thin and sucking all the value out of the love you have to give. But, if in that same scenario you only loved 5 people, those 5 people would have 20% of your love (YES! I know we don’t really gauge our love in percentages but I’m painting a picture here! Focus!)! Your love has instantly become exponentially more valuable. Those 5 people feel unique, they feel valued, they feel connected to you in a way the other 95 do not.
While I’m not advocating being closed off or exclusionary in our attitudes towards others, I am absolutely advocating being more selective about not only our distribution of love but also our use of the word. The value has been so diminished. I fear we might lose it altogether if we don’t change the way we view the whole thing. I’m no expert. In fact, the last thing I ever wanted to write about was love.
Honestly, I’m still unsure of what it even means. Unsure but optimistic. I’m optimistic that if I show the people who I love (as I understand the concept) that I love them, it will have an impact on them and they will have a certainty that it’s real. A certainty that eludes many of us. I, for one, want my love to mean something. Therefore, I’m not willing to throw it around haphazardly. No, I don’t love everyone and NO I don’t want to, not everyone loves me and that’s ok! I kind of like it that way. I know I’m loved and I know my love means something.
So maybe the Beatles were right in both cases. Maybe all we need is love but in the end, the love we make is equal to the love we take. Don’t settle for shallow superficial love. Cultivate those relationships where love is deep and unique. And if you’re like me, lacking an actual definition of love, let the people close to you know that they matter to you! If we want love to continue to mean something we must fight for it! We must do our best to keep it a reality in our lives and the lives of the people that matter to us!