It is a feeling as well as an emotion. Experiencing it can be complicated, wonderful, painful, exhilarating, and everything in-between. It’s called love.
Love is expressed in a myriad of ways by different people in a variety of situations. There is the love of parents for their children and vice versa; love between and among friends; and, of course, the love between lovers., Through kind words, physical touch, notes, letters and gifts, we let our feelings be known to the important people we care about.
Love is more than just the gushy stuff of couples and candlelight. To quote a line from one of my favourite romantic comedies, ‘love actually’ is all around us. Love is not a finite resource to be used sparingly and only within a close circle of intimate contacts.
In fact, there is so much love within each of is that we can afford to give some to those who may not have many connections with family or significant others. Extended care facilities are filled with people who find themselves alone in life, their spouses having passed away, and their children (if they have any) rarely visiting.
There are people in hospitals who are sick and lonely – a difficult combination to overcome. Healing, or at least a positive outlook on life and health, can be facilitated through human contact with people who truly care.
We have people in Edmonton’s inner city who, through their own individual circumstances, have lost contact with their families, in some cases even their own children. The poor and the homeless often stick together, forming families of their own on the street.
A little respect can go a long way in helping a person build his or her own self respect and self esteem, important character traits that many marginalized people lack. Giving time to volunteer for an organization that reaches out to those in need can aid us in building true empathy and change our views of the poor and the disadvantaged.
Mentally and physically challenged individuals are often isolated from the rest of society and branded as ‘not as capable.’ The fact is, however, that these people are indeed capable of many things, having feelings being one of them. We must realize and acknowledge the strengths of each person. We must treat them as equals and overlook their differences, providing them with perhaps the first step toward developing healthier outlooks on life.
And what about the people we see and are served by every day, those to whom we may not give a second thought? These individuals are the caretakers in our office buildings; the managers of the apartment complexes we live in; the young (or not so young) people who deliver our newspapers; and our neighbours. Our simple smiles and friendly greetings are safe and free to give, and just might be the difference that brightens someone else’s day.
We can easily do something nice for someone else. We can smile and hold the door open for the person behind us. We can buy small tokens for our sweethearts to show that we care. We can take our families out to dinner. We can arrange a fun night out with a circle of friends. We can phone our parents on a more regular basis. We can read to our children and kiss them before we put them to bed . . .
We can also consider ways to expand the boundaries of where and how we demonstrate and share the love within our world!
Paula E. Kirman is an Edmonton writer, editor, photographer and website designer. She cries every time she watches Love Actually. You can reach Paula at: firstname.lastname@example.org.