“One regret, dear world, that I am determined not to have while I’m lying on my deathbed is that I did not kiss you enough” – Hafiz
“I love you.” These three words are so loaded in the English language. I think it’s taken a long time for me to become honest about who I am. I’m a lover. For sure. Not because I’m half Latino. That’s not exactly what I mean. I’ve learned that it’s ok to express my adoration for people. I believe that’s the truest form of empathy. As a man in our society, however, we aren’t supposed to show our feelings or too much physical affection. Yes, I have fallen in love countless times with many women. Nearly every day. I think that feeling I had in elementary and middle school never went away. The way that teenage girls openly crush on guys is how I still feel about women. I love them. And I’m in love with so many all the time. But that’s only one kind of love. I can meet a grown man at the grocery store or coffee shop that is a bit awkward and exudes an innocence I can’t help but notice, and I feel like I don’t want anyone to ever hurt him. Have you ever just clicked with someone you just met? Have you ever watched a video of someone performing an act so selfless that you became a little emotional? Is that so wrong? Does that make you weak? I feel people build these false barriers and won’t admit how they feel. But there are different types of love. And all love is, is compassion. There’s no reason to be fueled by insecurity or the risk of rejection. Every person goes through it.
I believe I’ve relearned this from my sister. She has always been open to saying “I love you” to seemingly everyone she knew. It’s amazing. And everyone loves her! Now, I catch myself saying it to everyone that I truly feel adoration for. My guy friends know, I’m a hugger and I’ll tell them I love them. I don’t want any regrets. I don’t expect anything in return. That is unconditional, pure love and compassion for another human being. When you are trying to avoid future pain by holding back, that seems a bit more conditional.
Now I’m not suggesting you go around telling every stranger you see that you love them, although it may not be a terrible idea. Sincerity is a beautiful thing. Being genuinely interested in someone is powerful. Something I’ve done for many years is take the 10 seconds out of my day to read the nametag of the employee at the cash register while I’m standing in line at the checkout and find something I genuinely like to compliment them. It could be their efficiency, their glasses, their hair, their smile. It doesn’t matter. Try it and see what reaction you get. Happiness will spread across their face. I’m a steadfast believer that when you search for things you like, more of what you like will appear around you. And in my experience the opposite also seems to be true. So, as a practice it becomes obvious how guarded we normally are and how little time we have to be that way.
Maybe the word “love” is tainted. But the feeling is what we all constantly strive for. Love is ever-evolving anyway. So why not give it away? We don’t feel guarded to show a baby or a puppy love. We don’t think they’ll turn around and hurt us. With high self-esteem a person has no problem with showing their true colors. There’s no insecurity. And all insecurity is, is a pessimistic view of your future. And self-esteem is having no issues with loving the person that really matters most. There’s only one. And that shit is addictive.