Love is all about appreciation. Appreciation to a person for being present with us, enjoying our company, forgiving us and accepting us for who we are.
Appreciation to creativity as we channel it into our favorite project. Appreciation to the gifts and talents we’ve cultivated and spread throughout our lives.
Love is appreciation.
By the way, prepare yourself for a sappy blog post. If you tend to roll your eyes a lot when writers become sensitive, you’ve been warned. I have no idea where this essay may take me. I’m just going to let it all come out based on the theme I have in mind for this essay and this month of Mindsoak essays.
Oh, and welcome to February. The month of love. As the editor/benevolent dictator I’ve tasked all your favorite Mindsoak authors with writing on the theme of love. And not just romantic, Valentine-y love. All the kinds of love we feel. Love for family. Love for career. Love for creativity. Love for travel. Just love. And whatever way it presents itself for each individual author.
Now back to love. Back to appreciation.
One of my goals this year is to increase the amount of times I tell people I love them. I already say it a lot, but I want to say it much more. Because I feel it much more than I actually say it.
It’s easy to say it to my wife. My kids. My parents. Piece of cake. But over the last couple of years I’ve been making a more conscious effort to say it to those in my life I truly appreciate and love but for some reason it may seem weird or awkward to verbalize.
But I don’t care anymore. I’m going to say it more. Much more.
I have to give my Uncle Mark (Love you Uncle Mark if you read this) because he was the first man I remember truly being open about his expression of love and appreciation to those who weren’t sons or grandsons. I remember being a teenager and watching him be so open and genuine about his love for everyone. Hugging him goodbye (we don’t see him often so the goodbyes are the long kind) and him saying “Love you man” made you realize how much we did appreciate each other.
It’s not like I wasn’t aware he loved everyone. We all loved each other. I come from pretty good stock when it comes to ceremonious greetings, cheek hurting laughter, important conversations and long goodbyes full of multiple hugs. On both sides of my family.
But for some reason, hearing Mark say it every time and saying it back to him felt wonderful. Sincere. Reinforcing. Complete.
Which makes sense. Mark’s mother, my grandmother, was the most influential person in my life after my parents. Especially in the genuineness and kindness portion of my development. I grew up with her as my grandma, became roommates with her for a year when I was in college and my grandfather died and spent over 20 years of doing weekly dinners, trips to family events and mowing her yard (oh how I miss mowing her yard.)
When she passed away the outpouring of love from the community was staggering. But not unexpected. Standing at her wake I realized the most important goal I should have for the rest of my life. The goal we should all have. When we eventually pass from this life what will people say about us? Hopefully it will be that we loved many and were loved by many.
A couple months ago I wrote a thank you to my mother, my Aunt Meg (my mom’s sister) and Uncle Mark (mom’s brother) for a gift my wife and I were given in my Grandmother’s name. Here’s a portion:
We traveled as a five person caravan. I cherished the long rides home from all the family functions. Everyone would fall asleep in the car and Grandma would stay awake with me. No distractions. Just the windshield and our conversation.
I miss those times with her the most. I could have a million more and still wouldn’t have enough.
And you feel the same way. This one woman. This one person. She made everyone feel the same way. Unconditionally loved. Unconditionally accepted. And when you were talking to her you felt like the most important person in the world. Because to her, you were.
That is true love. Unconditionally accepted. Unconditionally appreciated.
We all feel it. You know the people in your life who accept and appreciate you unconditionally. Why not express it to one another more? Just so there’s no room for any doubt. God forbid I die without everyone I love knowing just how much I appreciate them.
Hey, and guys…it’s okay to tell your guy friends you love them. I swear. The guy friends who I cherish know this about me. I say “Love you brother” probably a little too often.
There you go. Remind yourself who you appreciate. Who you love. And tell them. If you do this already you know what I mean. If you don’t do this already and you take my advice you will be pleasantly surprised at their reaction and how whole it makes you feel inside.
And one last little bit of advice. You don’t have to wait until a birthday, a holiday, Valentine’s Day, a funeral. You can, and should say it randomly. As you sit here reading this, pull out your phone and text five of your friends right now. Text your husband/wife/significant other. Your kid(s) too. Send them a random text. Tell them you love them, or you appreciate them, or you are thankful for them. And then make sure to tell them when you’re together. It will light up their day. And yours too.