Let’s get this out of the way upfront. I love you. I’m not making this up. Do not adjust your screen.
I don’t care who you are, what your problems might be, or how much you like pop country music. I love you no matter what your culture, affiliation, background, profession, skin color, occupation, hairstyle, belief system, faith tradition, orientation, lifestyle, TV-viewing preferences, or whether you put toilet paper on the holder correctly (over position).
I love you even if I disagree with you. I love you even if you think I’m an idiot. Read my words: I love you.
A lot of people think love is a warm squishy feeling you get when Bob Dylan sings “Blowin’ in the Wind.” But love is more than that. If you ask me, love is like electricity. It is thunderous and untamable. Gentle enough to stay behind your plastic wall outlets; strong enough to turn you into a skid mark.
Which is probably why love offends people. Some people simply cannot stand the idea of love. It does not compute in their minds. Anger, they understand. Fighting? Yes, that makes perfect sense. Self-centered behavior is completely logical. But love? No thank you.
But even the most hopeless cannot fight against love. It is too vast. Too dense. Too overpowering. It is like trying to outrun oxygen.
Love is the motivating surge of momentum that causes the sun to rise. It is the chloryphyll in each leaf, the color of the Grand Canyon walls, the taste of dark chocolate, and the glint in your grandmother’s eye before she spanks your bare butt with a wooden spoon.
Love draws the tides to the shore. It makes your kidneys, liver, and spleen function correctly. Love caused a Hindu lawyer from Gujarat to alter world history by initiating one of the largest nonviolent movements of the modern age.
Which then inspired a young black preacher from Atlanta to march across the upheaved state of Alabama, accompanied by 25,000 behind him, hooking arms.
Love is the Albanian-Indian woman named Mary who began an organization that cares for those dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis, which operates in 133 different countries.
Love is the man standing on the side of I-10, blocking rush-hour traffic to let a turtle cross the road.
It doesn’t always feel soft and gooey. In fact, sometimes it stings like a trailer hitch to the shinbone. But love is the doorway to common decency, and it makes the world taste better.
It gives music oomph. It makes colors pop. It is the scent of a hot cheese casserole, the ink on a thank-you card, and the large chunks in Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.
So I write this for anyone who feels deficient. For anyone who thinks they are a big fat failure. If you get nothing else out of these poorly strung-together words, know that you’re loved.
Close your eyes. Breathe a few times. The oxygen in your lungs is comprised of love. The unseen current that powers your breathing muscles; also love. The minor electrical impulses within your neurological pathways; love.
The pixels on this screen. The way you feel when a kid gives you a hug. Love, love, love.
But here’s the thing. Love would lose its zip if you only gave it to people who deserved it. What about the people who act like total jerkwads? They need love as much as anyone else.
So I choose to love these people, too. I’m talking about people who stiff their waiters. Or people who talk too loud on cellphones in public places.
I love anyone who drives slowly in the left lane thereby flaunting the decent standards by which a polite society lives and transforming the morning commute of every man, woman, and child into pure misery, causing some to shout expletives at their steering wheels. Not that I am bitter.
What good is love if you can’t love the cruel? Like the man who abuses his dog? Or the unstable woman who tried to drown her kids in the river. The inmates on death row, the carjackers, the serial murders, and the politicians.
If love is a choice, then I choose to love these people. Just like I choose to love the guy who sent me a letter the other day, telling me just what “a piece of [obscenity]” I am.
A man who couldn’t even explain why he feels this way, but felt compelled to tap out an email just the same.
Truthfully, I don’t even know what he was angry about. But then, I guess it doesn’t matter, really. Because people in our modern era are just all-around mad. Somehow, meanness got into the drinking water.
I’m certain this man will read my words, and when he does, I want him to know something:
I’d be lying if I said your letter didn’t dampen my day. It did. I’m a regular guy. I get my feelings hurt like any Joe Sixpack would.
But this brain and body of mine are only biological pieces of meat. Easily hurtable. My DNA, adipose tissue, my fast-twitch muscular fibers are all weakly constructed. My bones snap easily. My joints are flimsy. Smack me around. Elbow me in the ribs. You’ll hurt me.
But do not mistake my pain for your victory. You do not win. In fact, you couldn’t be further behind in the Game of Life. Because in this violent and unpredictable age, devoid of reason and riddled with chaos, I can only control one thing. And that is who I will love.
So I love you.