Growing up, I had always been told that love was to be limited to a life partner, to family, and maybe to a few pets and a best friend. Be selective, I was told. Love is special, so keep it small. So I did. I loved deeply and small, keeping it to just a few special people.
How silly is that? If love is special, why keep it small? I needed to love bigger. I needed to move beyond simple romantic notions of love.
I needed to move beyond love as something that exists simply between two people. I needed my love to be more than that, better than that. I started by telling my long time friends "I love you." I parted from close associates with the words "love ya." I told my students "I love you people." It has lead me to think about people I don't know and will probably never meet as "my people." Better yet, loving more, bigger, and better has allowed me to accept other people's love and to care about people I have not yet met.
For example, when I think about the conflicts going on in the world, when I think about the children, the mothers, the brothers, the fathers who are slain because some Jerk wanted more power, I think about the love that has been lost to this world. And it makes me sad. Really sad.
Maybe loving more, loving bigger, and loving better is over the top for some people. Maybe you have reasons for loving small. So be it. I love you anyway.
Loving more, loving bigger, loving better has made me a better person. I am less suspicious. I am less fearful. I am more curious. I am more open to other people. I am more passionate about the idea of care.
Valentines day is upon us, and my single friends are feeling irritable about the pressure to have a romantic love interest. I was reading in the Washington Post about the distress people are feeling around Valentines day, doing things like painting their nails with dagger pierced hearts as a form of resistance. They are putting pictures of mourning on their social media feeds. Maybe there is a better answer.
Love More, Love Bigger, Love Better
What if, instead of protesting Valentines, we reframed it? Galentine's day is an excellent example. My hometown of Fulton, Missouri has a Galentine's day chocolate crawl. I don't know what that means exactly, but if it involves fabulous women and lots of chocolate, I'm in. Galentine's celebrates the friendship bonds that women can form, a type of love that packs a powerful capacity for care. But it does not go far enough.
What if, instead of Valentines day celebrating romantic love, we reframed it to celebrate love. More specifically, what would happen if we used it to launch an annual commitment to love more, love bigger, love better? What could we do in a world where something as special as love was spread widely and robustly?
Just imagine what we could do with that kind of love. Imagine what a leader could do if they led with More, Bigger, Better love. What could a culture accomplish if More, Bigger, Better love was woven into the cultural fabric?
That would be worth celebrating!
Freya Clark is a gifted child artist who raises rabbits and plays sports.
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