Of all of the misused and overused words in the world, one of the biggest culprits is the word that is on everyone's mind this time of the year. Love.
Think of how many times a day we use it, and what we use it for. I know how many times I day I tell my children or my husband that I love them, but I also say things like, "I love Chinese food!" and "I love it when I do a few loads of laundry and don't have any mismatched socks!" I talk to my mom nearly every day on the phone and end it with "love you." I end every email with my husband "love, Karrie." I sometimes tell my children I love them so much, I could squeeze them until their heads pop off.
We love songs and television shows. We love movie stars and seasons of the year, restaurants, cars, and fashion. Toby Keith sang about how much he loves a bar, and Ray Charles sang that he can't stop loving you, and The Beatles are well known for preaching that, above all else, all you need is love.
It all seems like a lot of love. Almost too much for one word to handle, and if Love knew what it had to go through every day, it would probably be fairly stressed out. How can one simple four-letter word (that doesn't follow simple grammatical rules, by the way) have to cover everything from socks to pop music to the Indian restaurant about an hour away?
The answer, I think, came to me during my first job in the real world. My boss was a very wise man, as down to earth as they come, and his knowledge continues to resonate in my head. The father of many children, one dark early morning before they had even turned on the overhead florescent lights, we sat drinking coffee by lamplight and discussing our work for the day and like we did so often, we got off topic. There in that office, he shared something so special with me I carry it with me and see the truth in it in so many facets of life.
"When I got married, I thought I loved my wife more than all the world. And then when we were about to have our first child, I got really scared. I thought to myself, I love my wife so much, how can I ever have enough love for a child, too?"
A newly-married woman, I sat in awe and listened.
"And when the child was born, I realized that I had enough. I loved that child like I loved my wife. The three of us were in so much love with each other, it was beautiful. I thought I had maxed out on love, so when a few years later we found out we were expecting another child, I got scared once again. How could I possibly have enough love to share with my wife, my daughter, and now another kid?"
Knowing this bearded boss of mine had a mind and heart of infinite wisdom, I waited for his answer.
"And you know what? I did. I had enough for that child, too. And the next, and the next, and the next, and the next. And enough for my wife, and God, and all things that are good in the world."
So whenever I feel like the word "love" is overused, I go back to that sunrise conversation because I learned that love is not something that can be measured, defined, calculated, or even described. We can love everything, with enough room to go around, and that's what makes this world such a special place. Maybe John, Paul, George, and Ringo were right, and it's really all we need. (I just love The Beatles.)
Contact Karrie at firstname.lastname@example.org.