Is there any topic that's been written about more in all of human history than love? As I was thinking about what aspect I could write about, I realized there was nothing I could offer that probably hasn't been said a hundred times before. That's when it occurred to me that I could let others provide a demonstration of the kinds of love I want to highlight today. Of course there are many kinds of love that I could have chosen to talk about: love of country, animals, nature, art, profession, hobbies, food, education, and knowledge, to name a few. However I have picked just three kinds to touch upon today.
Love of Community/Neighbors
On November 15, 2014, San Francisco was transformed by many hundreds of volunteers who staged an elaborate production for a 5-year-old boy currently in remission from Leukemia. He got to play the part of "BatKid" and saved the city from his nemesis, The Penguin. Thousands more supporters of the Make-a-Wish sponsored event lined the streets, cheered for BatKid, and purchased t-shirts with proceeds going back to the non-profit foundation. People from around the world were able follow the action on Twitter which was full of tweets all day long under the hashtag #batkidsf.
I'm awed when I think of the many strangers who volunteered time and resources, as well as citizens who commuted, parked, waited and then cheered for a little boy who got to live the life of a superhero for the day. They provided a sense of realism to the event that otherwise wouldn't have been achieved without their presence. They did it out of love, just like the police officer who bought a cold, homeless man boots. Or the homeless man who gave back a woman her wedding ring after she accidentally dropped it into his change cup. Or the woman who rescued a child from an vehicle outside her store after receiving an abduction alert and the community who has patronized her store since then in gratitude for her heroism.
There are good, generous people in this country and despite the continual news stories that must relate the sorrowful actions and accidents of our world, it's wonderful to hear about the kindness, concern, and love of individuals both near and far.
Love of family/friends
Being part of a family unit necessarily means it's members will experience love and it's many synonyms: concern, appreciation, sympathy, passion, forgiveness, and sacrifice. Parents go to great lengths to help their children succeed. One spouse will sacrifice for the other in pursuit of education or professional aspirations. Children step up to take care of aging parents; brothers and sisters work together and support each other, and extended families help out when gaps appear in immediate families.
Friends have a way of becoming just as close as family and will act in selfless ways to show their love. An example is this Oregon man who gave his wife's co-worker and longtime friend, his kidney. Even pets become members of the family and have been known act in extraordinary ways, such as this dog that saved his family from a gas leak.
In my mind, a family that works together, plays together and gets to know each other will find more happiness and strong bonds which will benefit all of its members. A family that works as a team can do great things, like this family who saved 8 drowning children.
Love of Self
Lizzie Velasquez suffers from an incredibly rare disease which makes it impossible to gain weight and caused blindness in her right eye. This means that her body perpetually looks extremely malnourished and some of her features appear to be slightly out of proportion. It's a miracle she survived at birth and she struggles each day to eat enough calories to stay alive.
She's had to endure bullying all of her life but the worst moment came in high school when she discovered someone had posted a YouTube video of her calling her The World's Ugliest Woman. It had over a million views and many of the comments were cruel and contemptible. She could have let this incident destroy her self worth, deciding to live a life of isolation by hiding from the rest of the world. Instead, after attending college she has been granting interviews as a motivational speaker and is writing books to help uplift others.
“You don’t have to look like a supermodel or a movie star to be happy or successful or whatever you want to be!” says Velasquez and she's right with her advice. Don't spend your life trying to please others while ignoring your own interests and talents. You are a unique individual whose life has value, but it's up to you to seize each day and work hard to get all that you desire out of it.
Our lives are constantly being impacted by the actions of the people we interact with, just as your actions affect others as well. The question is "how will you choose to express your love this year?" After all, love is a gift best received, and then shared.