Four-Letter Word

four-letter-word“If you love me, won’t you let me know?” ~Coldplay

Apparently love makes the world go ’round. It’s responsible for some of the most massive structures known to man, for the fall of kings, and for the uncanny ability it has to turn a rainy day into a sunny one. Of course it can also be unrequited, or it can become stale, or it can fade away. Wow, love can fade away. If you don’t take it out and polish it every once in a while it can get dull and lose its luster. But love has the ability to be the best emotion ever, so why is it so difficult to say it for the first time?

We tell our family members that we love them, but do we really know what that means? When we’re little love means “you do stuff for me,” and that’s the extent of our expertise in the subject. Carlos, the nanny’s husband, comes to pick her up one day and we tell him we love him too. As little kids we spread our love around, so much sometimes that our parents have to sit us down and explain to us why we can’t just throw around that word LOVE anymore. And maybe they do too good of a job because we swing too far the other way as we grow up.

You know, either that or we’ve been hurt. Because while love can be the most amazing emotion in the world it also leaves us vulnerable. Have you ever told someone you were dating that you loved them, and then had to endure the pregnant pause that often accompanies the first uttering of those words. It’s almost as if the other person is weighing the options. Should they say it too and become just as vulnerable as you are? Should they hold it inside and smile awkwardly at you while your insides turn to stone? Or should they be truthful and say they don’t want to be hurt, so they can’t possibly say it back.

Not right now anyway.

Then when they do say it back you breathed a sigh of relief, but it was only the beginning. You see, love needs to be maintained. It needs to be studied and understood. Because love isn’t just a word we take a picture of and frame it so we can look at it every time we pass by the mantel in the dining room. It’s a living, breathing organism that can stomp on our hearts and leave them to bleed in the dust if we let it in. No wonder so many are reticent to open them, or to admit that they’re already open.

But if we don’t give it a chance to warm our insides we may live our whole lives out in the cold.

Sam

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