I was watching some tv programme the other night, probably one of the many dreadful reality tv shows that I watch and enjoy, when one of the participants told the other participants that she loved them.Endearing as this was, bearing in mind the fact that she had been acquainted with them all of 24 hours, it set me to thinking.
Theses days we bandy around the 'I love you' phrase as though we had a job lot and had to get rid of our box of phrases before delivery of the next order.I think that if I made a tally chart of the number of times I hear it said during the course of the day I would run out of tallies. We 'love' food, we 'love' tv programmes, we 'love' our phones, our i-pods and our new shoes.
When it comes to people we 'love' even more. We 'love' celebrities, whom we have never met, to a jaw dropping extent.Teenage girls 'love' boy bands to within an inch of their lives.'Oh, I just love them!' we gush, about people we have never met, never will meet and only 'know' through their own press machines and carefully selected nuggets of information.
Its strange, isn't it, how things have changed? As I grew up I am sure we didn't bandy about the blanket 'loving' of anyone we found vaguely attractive.'Love' in my family just wasn't something we talked about... When my dad died he had never told me that he loved me, but that didn't mean that he didn't. It just meant that he didn't talk about those sort of things.To him 'love' was not something to be taken lightly. You didn't tell all and sundry that you loved them.
Of course I am being a tad disingenuous here as the fact that he didn't tell me he loved me really bugged me.If I am being honest it cut me to the core.But there is the difference for you... There is a huge difference between 'love' and.... 'love'.There is the everyday appreciation of things we like, people whose company we enjoy or whose lifestyle we envy. When we say that we 'love' our new Jimmy Choos ( I should be so lucky - please reinsert Marks & Spencer Footglove groan...) we all know that we don't really love them.We just like them a lot.
Its just that the word 'love' has got mixed up and over used.Most of us know that real 'love' is what we hold deep in our hearts.I remember the first time I told my Man that I loved him. It took a long time to build up the courage to say the words and I wanted to be sure that I really meant it.I knew that without him my world would be an empty place, that my heart would ache with an indescribable longing.
When my Dad had died someone told me a story about him.For some reason they had been discussing films and they had got onto talking about Sophie's Choice - a film where Meryl Streep plays a woman forced to choose by the Nazis between her son or her daughter.One would have to die...My Dad, apparently, said that he would never be able to choose. He would rather die with all his children than live on without one.That's it isn't it? The love that causes you to feel so strongly that you would die to protect someone - that's real love. I was choked when I heard that he had said that, and sad that he couldn't tell us to our faces.
To me, love means that 'self' is put to one side, that the other person is all important. And that doesn't happen very often.Very rarely do we really love and we are very lucky indeed to be loved in that way.