February is the month of love. And while I love romantic love as much as the next gal, this month, I’d like to celebrate all of the loves of our lives. The older I get, the more I love the people, things, and creatures in my life with abandon. My dogs, my writing, the city where I make my home, the messy little condo I live in, and even the pouch of chub around my tummy all inspire my appreciation and, yes, affection.
If you’re like me, it’s easy to focus on the things around us or about ourselves that bug us. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of a good gripe session now and again. I don’t see much value in burying our discouragement, frustration, or psychic pain because no one is served by denying our genuinely negative feelings. At the same time, I’m finding it more and more important to make an effort to notice how much there is to love about life.
Last week I had breakfast with my grandparents, ages 85 and 87. Grandma is in need of a hip replacement, and every move she makes right now sends shooting pain through her body. Grandpa is solicitous, patient, and as helpful to her as is possible, but he can’t take her pain away. As I drove them to Denny’s, parked directly in front of the building, and then helped grandma out of my low-riding car, I reflected on how much I took my own agility for granted. I took a moment as I waited for her to right herself, closed my eyes, and thanked my body for how well it functions at the moment.
Later that day, my husband, Bill, called me from work to tell me that the Chuckanut 50K (a local 31-mile race on mountainous trails) had opened up 500 more spots and did I want to sign up? I didn’t have to think about it long. “Sign me up,” I said. I guess I realize these days that I owe it to myself to grab opportunities that come my way. Life doesn’t last forever. In fewer years than I’ve already lived, I’ll be 85 years old (if I’m lucky), and I may need a hip replacement (probably will with all the pounding I put my body through). It will be too late at that point to tick this 50K off my bucket list.
Remember the line in the Stephen Stills song: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with?” I’ve begun to feel that way about my body, my life, my dreams. I’m not all I imagined I would be when I was a young adult. Neither are you, but within this one life, just as it is, there are dreams to grab hold of, people to love and be loved by, and hidden gifts to distribute your community. These exist side by side with grief, loss, illness, and devastation. I’m not saying life isn’t hard, only that we each have the responsibility to notice what does give us joy.
Join me this month in loving what is right in front of you. Is there an opportunity that has been calling to you? A challenge you’ve always thought you might like to delve into? A pet at the shelter you’d like to rescue? A story you’d like to write? A recipe you’d like to try? Carpe Diem, my friends. Someday you may need a hip/ knee/ elbow/ heart replacement. You may lose your sight or your hearing. I’m not trying to be alarmist, just realistic. Life doesn’t last forever, but it will last through the day most likely. Love what you love with as much passion as you can muster! Be brave. Let’s go.
Three of my favorite books on love: