I have heard through much of my life not to love lightly. Not to express love lightly. Not to say “I love you” “unless you mean it,” with the implication that we can’t possibly mean it when casually expressed; that to do so isn’t placing enough value on the precious commodity that love, as argued, is supposed to be. We’re not to squander it, but rather to hoard it. There was a way to further impress this upon us when we were young and tender: “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” You can hear the jokey, sneery voice saying it, can’t you?
The lesson is that you should should be stingy with your love, as though there isn’t enough of it, and you may run out of it if you give to much of it away. That you need to save it for special occasions.
I am going to argue, possibly unpopularly, at least in playground terms, the opposite. That we should feel (and express!) love often, and at any level of depth (or shallowness) that we feel it; that loving someone you just met for their jokes, or your boss for their sense of style, or, I don’t know, trees, or the color red, doesn’t devalue love at all. Rather, each instance of felt and expressed love is an opportunity to dwell a moment in that feeling, and to, should we want to, examine the very nature of love. It is a chance to celebrate our connection to who or what brings us that feeling, and to explore ways to give that feeling, even in fleeting ways to others, to the very world.
So go out, be cheap with your love. Love red. Love that video of an otter. Love chocolate cake. And love each other.
Happy valentine’s day. May it be full of love.