You hear a lot of songs about how hard love is, and a lot more about heartbreak because love turned out to be too hard. But it’s always romantic love in those songs, and the various epic love stories that make the big bucks in Hollywood are always romances. There is so much more to love than that. And a lot of it is more difficult than the story of “the one that got away.”

If you want my opinion, and since you’re reading this blog I guess you’re bored enough to, we need to stop putting such a huge emphasis on romantic love. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist and I’m not saying it isn’t a wonderful thing. My problem is that as a society, we’re selling all other forms of love short because it isn’t as glamorous. I’ve heard romantic love described as “That one special person you’d lay down your life for.” Well, then whoever said that must not love a lot of people. I know many, many people I’d lay my life down for. Friends of mine, who have become like family. Family, who are some of my dearest friends. Someone doesn’t have to be a lover to be loved.

There is the first love we ever experience, the love of parents and family. It is such a powerful, defining thing. No matter how many times you fight, despite the moodiness of teenage years, and despite the dysfunction that occurs in almost every family, parents love their children, and children love their parents. Maybe they don’t always show it, maybe they do more harm with their love than good, but it is there. It is the cord that you can’t see that makes you come back after saying “I hate you.” It is what keeps you coming home for Christmas and birthdays.

This kind of love is so much more difficult than romantic love. No matter how estranged you are, you cannot break up with your family. They are an indelible part of you and without them, you will always feel like some facet of your life is missing. It is hard, because families are human after all. Parents aren’t perfect. They screw up, and sometimes they brand their children with their mistakes. Children in turn take their parents hearts in their hands, carrying it with them throughout life like a shield. Sometimes they wound those hearts, particularly in the teenage years, with words like “I hate you” and disappointment. Family can do so much harm, because it is worth so much good.

Many people discount familial love, finding it easier to say “You don’t pick your family.” I promise you, I did not pick my family. We’ve been through some hard times. I’ve been a moody, whiney, self-centered bitch, but my parents still love me, and they forgave me for every single time I let them down. My parents have dealt with struggle upon struggle, particularly with my brothers’ disabilities, and didn’t always have the attention I needed to spare. But they love me, and I know it and I forgive them for times when they let me down. It takes work. I used to swear when I went to college, I’d never come back. Pah! I come home for weekends maybe once a month, and I still miss the insanity of home. I talk to my father more than anyone in the world. I shoot the breeze–such a fun phrase–with my brother on the phone when he’s bored, even though he calls me at the worst times. Love means working when you don’t want to. It is a vocation that calls for your attention 24/7.

And love isn’t just limited to families and lovers. Friends can mean so much, even if you lose touch over the years. I never had a sister, until I entered high school where I met my “sister” Jean. She’s the person who I know will always make me smile, and she’s the person who I always want to see smile. Even though we go to school in separate states and don’t see each other as often as we’d like, I love that girl more than my life. Friends like Jean bring out the best in you and you aren’t sure it that’s what you love them for or not, you just love them.

But love of friends, like love of family and romantic love takes work. Sometimes, friends fight. Everyone has fought with a friend at some point in there life. When we do this, we tend to pull away, to think of the wrong they’ve done us. Here we do the most damage to love, and it’s so easy to do. Society tells us that friends are temporary: they aren’t family and you can’t marry them, so if you fall out, life goes on. Well, yes, it does, but it is emptier if you let a true friendship die because you were too proud to be selfless.

And yes, oh patient person who is reading this seriously long post, that is what love requires. Selflessness. When your friend cancels plans, sometimes you feel hurt. But you might want to ask why. When your friend gets mad at you for doing something, like canceling plans or keeping secrets, you might also want to ask why. Don’t listen to them as if it’s a debate, like you’re waiting to defend yourself. Your goal should be to ease their hurt, not the other way around.

Our society values individuality, and that’s all well and good. But what makes us great individuals isn’t how much we are loved, but how much we love. Any sociopath can make people love them. It takes a true friend, family member, lover, human being to love another. So stop asking your boyfriend, “Why don’t you do this for me?” Stop asking your parents,”Why did you do something?” Stop telling your friend they hurt you and walking away before they explain.

Love is thanking your parents for loving you. Love is saying to a lover, “You’re wonderful and you treat me well.” Love is asking a friend why they’re crying and what you can do to make it better. Love is being there, not for the life or death crises which don’t take that much of us, but for the little things everyday that take time and energy. It’s easy to take a bullet for someone. It’s hard as hell to love someone day in and day out. Do it anyway.


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by MK Adduce on April 18, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Shannon, this is excellent. It hit home for me, literally. Thanks for writing this!
    Keep on doin’ it! 😉


  2. Posted by Lauren on April 18, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Uhhhhgg, could not have posted this at a better time! I love you so much Shannon! You really have impeccable timing 🙂 Love really is so much fuller, deeper, more… real than any movie could ever show or any magazine could preach about. We really are here today because of this deep love in more ways than one. Just know I’m always thinking of you and love to read your posts!


  3. Posted by Dan O'Shea on April 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    The Daja must have had some spare parents somewhere to become so wise beyond her years.


  4. I honestly don’t agree with the friend love thing, Shannon.
    My experiences in college have taught me otherwise.


    • well, Kat I’m sorry, but I must say, I definitely love you and was thinking about you while writing this! 🙂 BTW, the paterfamilias is awaiting comment on your cameo.


      • Haha, sadly I’m still on chapter two. I HAVE NO TIME!
        I will read it some day, probably while rendering.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: