When you listen to or read the news, most tell us about murder, corruption, sex scandals and assaults, violence and discrimination – in any part of the world. There are callous terror attacks, parents who lock up and abuse their own children, ex-partners publicise revenge porn, and leaders of states wield their power for their own gain, disregarding the needs of their country and people. Simply put: daily news are depressing, seemingly full of acts of hatred and loathing against society and other human beings. It scares me and makes me wonder what lies ahead of us and what my children have to deal with. The world seems void of love and kindness. Are we all doomed to a glum and dreary future?
Growing up I was raised in the belief that the world is a great place, the majority of people are good and that there is so much love in the world. I think I was very lucky – in materialistic terms my family doesn’t have much but there has always been an abundance of love around. I felt loved, with a childish and naïve belief that love is simple and everywhere.
Then I moved away from home and the bubble burst. Far away from home and exposed to lots of people I had never met before, immersed into a culture I wasn’t familiar with and some quite hilarious but significant misunderstandings due to the language barrier, I came to experience that life wasn’t all idyllic, rosy and about love. Life was tough. Life was about making a living, fending for yourself, and don’t get me started on relationships and falling in love. It was brutal! What seemed effortless and straightforward in fairy tales and romantic comedies was anything but in the cold reality of adult life. Perhaps, because I was a little bit gullible, I attracted some characters whose priority was “Number One” and I was a convenient enabler of their self-centred missions. They screwed me over, chewed me up and spat me back out, leaving me raw, wounded and deeply disappointed in life, relationships and love. I felt abandoned, stupid and exposed. It also made me somewhat desperate for belonging, for some acknowledgement and being loved. Eventually, after yet another rough ride and being let down repeatedly I was down and exhausted, unwilling to get back up and believe that love was out there. No one cared and love was dead. My life was a reflection of the news, and unlike the film, love wasn’t all around, in fact, love was all but absent. I had become cynical.
But then something great happened. When I least expected it, the universe gave me some people that selflessly cared for me, opened up their lives and gave me whatever I needed at the time: a home, a shoulder to cry on, evenings to drink and vent, nights to chat for hours, jokes to laugh at, and an environment for me to recover, and rediscover people, friendships, relationships and love. And whilst it took years to find the romantic love of my life, I came to the wonderful realisation that I was and had been all along surrounded by real love. In the harsh mess of life I just couldn’t see it.
See, the amazing thing about love is, apart from that it usually creeps up when you least expect it, that it exists in so many shapes and forms. You can love someone romantically, love your children, love a friend, love your family, love a hobby, a job, a country – you can love the whole world! There are no limits to how much and who you can love. There seems to be a never-ending abundance of love available to each and every one of us. The more love you give, the better you feel and the more you get back. It’s the opposite to spending money, and maybe, in the materialistic world we live in, that’s why it’s so difficult for us to be more loving and throw love around freely. We’re scared of losing something, giving away a part of us and getting short-changed. And sometimes we are. Sometimes we get dealt a rogue card and are in for a rough ride. Maybe you can tell similar stories to mine where you’ve felt lonely and abandoned or where you’ve been the outlet for someone’s despicable actions. You can recall moments when you didn’t believe in love anymore. Maybe you’re going through such a time at the moment. The world is against you, everyone you come across makes your life more difficult and unpleasant. It feels like a never-ending black tunnel, without a light in sight, not even a small emergency exit lamp. However, trying not to sound like the naïve girl from back then, I dare to exclaim that, as long as you carry love within you, it will find you. I am sure that, if you believe in love and don’t give up on it, it will overcome anything and win. I believe that, once you open yourself up to love, you will be surprised to see you’ll get it in some shape or form. Be it the love of a friend who stocks up your fridge before you get back from holiday, the love of your mother who checks in on you, the love of your neighbour who puts the bin out because you forgot, the love of an acquaintance who thought of you when he read that job advert – these little gestures are proof that, like a flower can break through the hard, cold surface of the asphalt, love will always make its way through hatred, violence, lies and pain. We just need to make it a priority and believe in it, even if it’s sometimes easier said than done.
So be love’s biggest fan. Be a “loveaholic”. Throw the stuff around like it’s going out of fashion. Love without fear. Love without boundaries. No matter what you believe in, where you are and at what point of your life you are – love reaches across nations, faiths and beliefs, genders and ages. You won’t need to learn anything new in order to show love. Only, you may find yourself surprised at how happy it makes you and how much you get back. Just imagine if everyone was like that – what would those news pages look like then?