Love. What a truly beautiful word – to these ears at least. However, love is one of those words I try to limit its use. It’s a very strong word, and one I like to use with purpose and definite feeling.
My cousin Roxana first brought the word ‘love’ and its use to my attention almost 20 years ago. She has spent most of her life in Mexico, and although she can speak English, she doesn’t have much need or opportunity to use it. One day we were discussing fundamental differences between the two languages. She made the comment that in English we have a word for everything.
“Every little everything has a specific word for it in English,” she said. “And if you don’t have a name for it, you’re quick to make one up. So why is it that you all use the word ‘love’ in such a general sense?” she asked.
“Do you really love your car? Love your mother? Love the weather outside? Love the color yellow? Love a movie or a TV show?” she continued. She had a point. You’d use a different verb in Spanish to express the love of a car versus the love of a person. Actually, to use the same verb for both would be absurd; it wouldn’t really compute.
I tucked that conversation away, although I keep it in the forefront of my mind when choosing to use the word love. [By the way, love isn’t the only word I put in this ‘exclusive use’ category. A few others are: hate, perfect, awesome, and amazing.]
In a similar vein, I remember a time when a colleague of mine would end each phone conversation with his wife by saying, “I love you, Honey.” I could hear him from my cube and thought it was sweet the first couple of times. Until it appeared the statement was actually more like a period at the end of his sentence. It had become a habit. Granted, it was a nice thing to say, but still, I couldn’t help but wonder a few things. First, I’m sure he loved his wife, I wasn’t questioning that. (Not my place to question anyway.) My internal questions were more around the rote behavior. Did it lessen the meaning? Was it less heartfelt? Was it somehow less ‘received‘ by his wife on the other end of the line? It was clearly a pattern, but I found myself contemplating if the pattern ought to be broken? And if so, how?
Not five minutes later, his phone rang and it was his admin. They discussed their business related stuff, and as he hung up, he said, “I love you, Honey.” Dead silence. I remember being able to feel the awkwardness as he pushed his chair back, walked the ten steps over to her cube, and fumbled through his “Oops shpeel.” [And in case you’re wondering, he did continue with the “I love you, Honey’s” with his wife, but he preceded them with her first name. They also sounded as if they had a bit more oomph behind them – at least to my untrained ear.]
Whether it’s with your lover, your kids, your Valentine, your cousin, your FAITH sisters, or your whomever, I hope you feel it when you say, I LOVE YOU. I hope the person receiving it can feel it. And when you’re expressing your love for something, as we do in English, I hope you equally feel that.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.” -David Viscott