There are moments when I love my life so much that the joy is almost painfully overwhelming.
These moments happen every day. They’re the moments when I’m in love with the world and with the beauty all around me — and more than anything else, with the people and things which I’ve chosen to love.
Tuesday evening, Lucy rode with me to get gasoline for the car. She loves her little car trips and she seems to be happy to be close to me. The photo above is her sitting in my seat while I was outside filling the car‘s tank.
As we headed back home, Lucy put her head on my right shoulder and nuzzled my neck. She was happy and wanted to be close. As I reached my right hand up to rub the fur of her head, I felt filled with love for her — and love for the joy of this moment of being with her.
It’s those shared moments of love and gratitude and pure joy which I most miss about having the love of a partner in my life.
There are times when I experience joy and beauty so powerfully that they fill me with the need to reach out to someone I love and say, “Do you know how wonderful you are? Do you know how happy I am that you’re in this world?”
It might be a sunset that makes me feel that way. It might be a powerful piece of music. It might be an overwhelming sensation of the love of God.
Sometimes it’s just a flower. Or a bird that’s close to me. Or maybe a squirrel.
Other times, it’s the majesty of a tree that I love. When I get home in the afternoon — during the spring and summer — I step out of my car and look up into one of the most beautiful sights in this world. I can’t capture the experience in a photo, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. (There’s an example from last week below.)
When I have such powerful sensations inside, my heart overflows and the emotion naturally flows toward whoever I love. I want to pick up the phone and hear her voice. I want to tell her how wonderful she is. My heart needs to express love in those moments.
Because love for a specific person is what makes the joy of the world so worthwhile to me.
I know a lot of people who claim they love some specific person or their families, but I never see evidence of that. And there are times when I know the person who this other person claims to love — and that person tells me that he or she feels taken for granted — and that whatever love might have been feels dead and gone.
I can’t judge what might have once been in someone’s heart for someone else, but I do know that love is an active thing. Love doesn’t mean making a commitment at some point and then treating someone as the scenery of his life.
That isn’t real love.
Real love is about sharing. Real love is about attention. Real love is about communication and mutual growth and a million other things. Real love has to keep moving forward — or it starts to die.
Even now — long after I’ve had reason to feel loved by a specific person — I can’t help having my attention pulled to someone when my heart overflows. Inside my head, I speak to her and say, “I love you, dear.”
And I desperately need to express that.
For me, love will always be about active expression of a growing and active internal joy that animates my heart and makes the world make sense. And that’s why it’s so painful when there is no one there who wants to be the object of my love — when there’s no one to receive what I need to give.
This world is a stunning delight of beauty and love and joy. Yes, there are also terrible things. There are pain and loneliness and hurt. But all of those things fade in significance when real love for another is present and real and active.
Real love is what gives the rest of life meaning. Only a fool ever takes that for granted.