It’s a new year, and I’m sitting at a coffee shop thinking about what I want to do as a writer this year. I want to grow. I want to get better at writing. I want to make more of an impact. I want to take it seriously. I want to chase the dreams I have about it. But what do I want to write about this year?
Impact. Significant impact. I want to write about something that has significant impact. That’s my dream. I see a world full of mind-boggling wealth and full of cold, starving, sick, and homeless. I see news stories about people shooting people. I see vicious arguments between people who just think a little differently. I see so many turning blind eyes to people who are suffering. I see abuse. I see people being shamed for being themselves.
What heals all this?
I guess that’s a lofty goal.
What heals some of this, then?
I think it’s really good to learn about communication. It’s really good to learn about relationships. It’s really good to learn about teamwork. About motivating and inspiring people. About mental health and well-being. About vulnerability. About honesty. About happiness. About strength. About psychology, the brain, the heart. Those are all big things.
But if I had to pick one thing that I could inspire people about in my life? One thing to show, to make okay, to spread, to advocate, to learn, to be an example of, to share, to celebrate–one thing with which and about which to make an impact?
I keep coming back to LOVE.
I didn’t used to. It was too broad, too obvious, too cliche, too already-been-done.
But I think I notice, every single day, the impact love makes in this world–and the impact made when love isn’t there.
Abuse. Greed. Addiction. Taking advantage. Neglect. Poverty. Violence. Loneliness. Bullying. Cruelty. Hunger for abusive power and control. Fear. Brain-washing. Shame. Low self-esteem. These are a few of the things that happen when love isn’t happening. And these are a few of the things that need love.
Love, as a subject, has definitely been talked and talked and talked and talked through for hundreds and thousands of years. It’s nothing new.
It’s also a pretty simple thing, I think. Yeah, how it ends up looking and feeling in each unique life is a pretty complex and difficult and scary and weird thing. But love is a simple enough concept. Simple enough that it doesn’t take much to share it, to spread it, to advocate for it.
So if it’s so simple and so already-talked-about, why keep coming back to it? Because we’re humans. And humans need a lot of inspiration, a lot of patient reminders, a lot of help, a lot of love.
Many things about our world make love very unsafe. All kinds of love–intimate couple-love, family love, friend love, stranger love, all-the-world love. Our experiences make love unsafe. Our fear makes love unsafe. Others’ reactions make love unsafe. Society’s expectations make love unsafe.
So despite how much we all know the deep importance, the centrality of love–we need to hear it again, see it again, feel it again, talk about it again, try it again. Every. Single. Day.
There are so many voices around us and in our heads and in our pasts and in our fears that drown out love. So there’s no such thing as spreading love too much.
It’s been striking to me lately how much everyone knows the solutions. We live in a smart age, a knowledgable age. Everything you need to know is at your fingertips. There’s no reason for there to be so much hurt and ugliness every day all around us. Everyone knows better. Everyone can do stuff to help. Everyone can stop doing stuff to hurt. From casual little interactions to big government policies and business decisions–people can choose to do the good thing–the love thing. But every day people don’t. And we’re left with a lot of ugliness in the world.
I don’t think the problem is that people need to know all the strategies and all the statistics and all the skills and all the ideas and all the answers. I think mostly people need to choose love. And to choose love, people generally need to feel love. And to feel love, people need you and me to get genuine and vulnerable and expressive and kind with them. You and I need to love.
Love has the biggest impact.
This isn’t a new thing. It’s timeless.
“Where there is love, there is life.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“God is love.” – John the apostle
“Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.” – Buddha
“Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything.” – Ray Bradbury
“Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.” – Khalil Gibran
“There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.” – George Sand
“The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.” – Henry Miller
“Love is our essential nutrient. Without it, life has little meaning. It’s the best thing we have to give and the most valuable thing we receive. It’s worthy of all the hullabaloo.” – Cheryl Strayed
“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.” – Viktor Frankl
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“All religious institutions, despite different philosophical views, all have the same message: a message of love.” – Dalai Lama
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” – Jesus
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou
“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.” – Oscar Wilde
“Love each other dearly always. There is scarcely anything else in the world but that: to love one another.” – Victor Hugo
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” – Sophocles
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama
“. . . but the greatest of these is love.” – Paul the apostle
“Love the whole world as a mother loves her only child.” – Buddha
Love is timeless. And that means it is very much a right now thing.
Every day, love.
Most of all, love.
I think love really is the biggest thing.
P.S. Honestly–I challenge you to remember love every single day this year. And when you remember it, give someone a smile, text someone what they mean to you. . . . Love is powerful.