I only know one way to love—unconditionally. I just don’t understand any other way. What is love if there are conditions? “Like”? “Fair weather friendship”? Can’t do it. I can’t help myself from admitting it, either, if I love someone. Why would I hide it? Is it something I should be ashamed of stating? Are people afraid of it?
Unfortunately, I think many are afraid of the emotion, the public revelation. I’ve always been a big fan of PDA—Public Displays of Affection. I wish there was more of it! Instead I see indifference on display. Worse is outright hostility out there for everyone to witness. Why do I want to see that?! Show me your love for someone else. Hell, show me that you love yourself!!
Oh, sure. I see handshakes and fist bumps and “bro hugs” and air kisses all over the place. Please. You get a hug from me, prepare to bandage your ribs. I want you to know that I want you close to me, in my protective embrace, either physically or emotionally or mentally. Don’t be afraid to let me see or feel your bruises or blemishes or weirdness. Let’s laugh at mine and have a good time! Need something? If I can help, call me. That’s not what friends are for. That’s what love is! You’re not taking from me; I’m giving to you!! Believe me. One way or another, I’m going to come out ahead in the deal.
In almost sixty-four years I’ve seen all sorts of people suffer for the love they couldn’t express, and I’ve seen the awful toll it’s taken on those who just could not accept the truth of love. Good people have been tortured by their inability to believe in love that is given without strings, with full disclosure, outspokenly admitted, demonstrably delivered.
I think I easily had over 5,000 students in my career in education. I consider every one of them one of “my kids,” and I love them all. Some of them have given me “grandchildren.” Most of them know they can still ask me for just about anything, even if it’s been 40+ years since I’ve set eyes on them. Sure. Back when I was too close to their age to tell them, I sometimes got in “trouble” for expressing my care for them. Some people thought even a few years ago that my obvious affection for both students and colleagues was inappropriate. Sorry. I just can’t help myself.
I’ve been lucky in my life to know people who love unconditionally (even if they haven’t been as demonstrative). My immediate family members have always been pretty open in our affection for one another. I learned the ultimate “bro hug” from my father. My brothers and I have shared genuine tears of affection in our many times of need. I am sure my sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren know they can count on me. I had forty years with my wife and knew unconditional love expressed daily. “Part II” of my crazy life has given me a partnership I could never have imagined was possible. My past has become my present as well as my future, and love continues to blossom. What an incredible gift!! Every day is a new adventure. I can only hope for more days to show everyone just how much you all mean to me.
My former students, friends, family…I love you. Come here. Let me give you a hug!