Growing up, I rarely heard the words, 'I love you.' My family, immediate and extended, simply didn't say it. I don't know why... it was the way we were raised, I guess -- Old Country. I can probably count on one hand the number of times my mother said it to me. My dad said it even less. I didn't doubt they loved me, mind you... we simply didn't say the words. Attempting it felt awkward... uncomfortable... forced.
Then we got a puppy. A fuzzy black spaniel mix who oozed joy and devotion and unconditional love. And those three words started rolling off my tongue pretty easily.
And it was the start of something beautiful.
Eventually, I was able to say it to my friends... then to a very select few men in my life (never more than one at a time, however!). Over time, it became so easy and normal to say it that once, when talking on the phone to a client who had the same name as my then-husband, I ended our conversation with, "I love you." There was dead silence for a few seconds and then my mortified verbal stumbling around in an attempt to explain why I'd just declared my love to someone whose resume I was writing. Thankfully, he had a good sense of humor and pronounced my customer service 'top-notch!'
Now, at this time in my life, I say the words 'I love you' a lot. I say them several times every day to my daughter, my dog, and at least a couple of my friends.
Someone told me once that saying those words often cheapens them.
Saying the words 'I love you' often...
... cheapens them.
Can you imagine? Can anyone ever hear them too often? Any child? Any friend? Any lover or spouse? Any person who feels unloved or unwanted?
Now, I understand if they're said without feeling or simply to appease a need or desire when they aren't truly meant. Saying anything that requires conviction and belief when you don't feel it alters the meaning of the words, certainly.
But I never say them that way.
When I say 'I love you,' I mean it.
When I fall in love, I mean it.
And I fall in love all the time...
... not romantically, as that has happened very rarely in my life.
But I fall in love all the time with peoples' spirits... with their souls... with their senses of humor... with the mischievous gleams in their eyes... with their beautiful smiles and silly laughs... with their compassion and kindness... their intelligence... their passion and conviction... their generosity... their humanity... their creativity... their humbleness... their determination to rise above the obstacles and the hurt we all must face... with their ability to dance when they want to limp away in pain... with their energy and enthusiasm and zest for Life.
I fall in love with the love they exude and express outwardly -- to the world and the people in it.
And being in love? Like that? Makes me happy.
And the world needs more in-love, happy people.
I figure it's why we're here.
If you can think of a better reason? Let me know, OK?