As Christmas and New Year’s fade away and stores begin to restock shelves with hearts and candy in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the subject of love.
There are many kinds of love. There is the comfortable love of a friend. There are the passionate emotions shared with a lover. There is the playful love of youth. There is the care we show for our relatives. There is healthy love and unhealthy obsession. There is love that brings joy and that which inspires grief. There are feelings we have for things other than people – pets, possessions, and social causes to name just a few. There is even the love we feel for total strangers.
THE NEED TO BE LOVED
Everyone needs to feel love, and the way we need to be loved can differ from person to person.
There are those who need physical touch to feel loved and others who delight at the thought of a phone call or a letter. There are those who need a constant flow of affirmations and others who just need a kind reminder from time to time. There are those who long for the love of the masses and others who require the attention of just one special person.
I think one of the keys to a successful relationship is to learn how your partner needs to be loved. It might be different than the way you need to be loved. But if we listen and take words to heart, we can learn how to make our loved ones feel the full embrace of our adoration – to make them happy. When you love someone in a healthy way, that’s what you want most – for them to be happy.
HEART TOUCHING WORDS
In the arts, there are many expressions of love. There are love songs, romantic plays and movies, poems, paintings, books, photographs, and sculptures all aimed at capturing the beauty of feelings of affection.
In my work as an author and screenwriter, I am often tasked with putting matters of the heart into words. I recently wrote a piece of dialogue for a bipolar character that I find very powerful:
“I want to be loved by someone who wouldn’t stop no matter how much God punishes them for it. A love that defies the wrath of the highest power conceivable is the truest emotion imaginable. That’s the way a bipolar person’s heart works. It is the pain and euphoric bliss of addiction, an addiction to something more powerful than any drug – love. That is how I want to be loved because that is how I love. Totally. Completely. Forever.”
Of course I am not advocating that anyone defy their own beliefs and morals, whether they come from organized religion of life experience. But they are powerful words, aren’t they?
I like to think that if there is a God, it is an entity of compassion, not one prone to punishing those who do not obey. But if such a vengeful God was to inflict harm on a person simply for loving the wrong person, what would be more powerful – the intensity of the love or the fear of punishment?
YOU, ME, OR US?
In my humble opinion, love should be a selfless act. We should not focus on “If you love me, you’ll do this.” Rather, we should place our attentions on thoughts of “what can I do to make the person I love feel as amazing as the way they make me feel.” Never should it be at the cost of what makes us who we are, or them who they are.
Let us hesitate to focus on the love we don’t receive, and instead rejoice in the many loves we are blessed with every day. The giggle of a baby is a gift of love to one’s ears. The touch of another’s hand while sharing a conversation is so simple, yet so meaningful. Getting a phone call from someone just to say hi, can be an unexpected joy. Even the simple action of having another driver let you into traffic can be viewed as an act of love.
And if these things make us happy, make us feel loved, then we should consider how we can gift these same feelings of happiness to others. Then, it becomes perpetual. Your acts of love will inspire similar acts of love in others, and soon that love returns to you.
MAKING THE EFFORT
Love is something that takes cultivation to survive and flourish. If you don’t work at love, you’re leaving it to luck. Sure there are millionaires who got rich by luck, but most get there by hard work. The same is true of love. Most successful love stories come from putting in the effort.
If you love someone, don’t be afraid to say the words. Don’t be afraid to make that call, write that letter, send that present, or schedule that date.
Life is short. We should do everything we can to make it count and that includes making sure we celebrate the loves we are blessed with.
Peace. Love. Trust.
Rikki Lee Travolta
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