Show, don’t tell

November 13, 2013 § 8 Comments

If you go on a writing course, and if it’s any good, one of the pieces of advice you’ll get is: “Show, don’t tell.” It occurs to me that the same applies to love. And I’m not just talking about l’amour – the romantic love so many long for. I think it applies to all love.

The truth is, that love is hard work. Because if you love someone, feeling love and telling them you love them is a good start, but it’s seldom enough.

Love is expressed through action, through the tiny things you do, the generosity of the ordinary. Love is not found in grandiose gestures, but in a thousand tiny acts of selflessness that leave the object of your love feeling that they’ve been seen and heard.

Love is in the text or phone call you send just because you’re thinking of someone. It’s in the errand you run, or the help you offer when someone is frazzled, stressed or overwhelmed. Love is in the bunch of flowers you picked up at the garage forecourt, even if it’s slightly bedraggled, because you remembered that sweet peas are someone’s favourite flower.

Love is in the way you smile when someone walks into the room. It’s in the cup of tea or coffee you make when you’re making one for yourself. It’s in the single hibiscus bloom a child plucks for his mother on the walk home from school, or the chocolate you leave on a guest’s pillow when they’re bunked down on your couch in a sleeping bag.

Love is in the song or poem or note you write, however corny. It’s in the spontaneous hug, the unbidden peck on an unsuspecting cheek. The squeeze of a knee, the hand over another, the gentle hand on a forehead to wake someone.

It costs nothing, but it also costs everything. It requires that you give everything of yourself and demand nothing in return, and that you open yourself up to be hurt and rejected and betrayed.

But it’s a bit like pointing a finger at someone and three fingers point back at you – point your love out into the world and it comes back at you, multiplied in a myriad magical ways.

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