Should every single interaction with a fellow human be designed to serve us?
American individualism and the pursuit of personal gain at all cost is an ongoing source of much consternation to me. As an immigrant from the EU, I’m having a hard time reconciling the commodification of people with basic human decency.
To me, the two are mutually exclusive concepts because putting ourselves first means always putting others second. While sacrifices might still happen, they become a calculated move rather than an altruistic, selfless one.
When convenience and the sanctity of the self taint every interaction, how can we ever develop deep, genuine attachments to others?
The tendency to look at all relationships as if they were business transactions scares me because it leaves no place for love.
Social status, résumé, or salary should never be determining factors in growing and nurturing a relationship with another person. Neither friendship nor romantic love are contingent on someone’s material worth.
And yet, selecting and curating those whom we let into our lives according to such criteria is routine for some people.
Embrace mutual curiosity, shun convenience.
Shared interest in how another human does human is the spark, the catalyst that transforms a random interaction into an ongoing one. Suddenly, there are two of you wanting to find out about each other.
Your quest for information is unstoppable; your appetite for discovery is insatiable. Before you know it, the random stranger has become a friend whom you care about, their presence an intrinsic part of your day.
So much so that you can no longer remember exactly how things were before they came along. It’s as if they had always belonged in your emotional and intellectual landscape.
You find yourself going about your daily life with a spring in your step, an easy smile, and a newfound sense of lightness that wasn’t there before. The care and attention that other human lavishes upon you infuses your every moment with tranquility and contentment.
Breathing becomes easier as your world opens up and expands to accommodate all that makes someone other than you who they are. Your heart blossoms and your mind blooms with fresh thoughts and ideas.
Love is springtime for the soul, a self-renewing forward momentum, whatever its context; friendships, romantic relationships, and families all thrive on it.
While we often take our relatives for granted, life-changing events are a refresher course in the mechanics of love. My stepmom was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer last September and her illness has reminded us all of this truth:
Love is as love does.
Love shows up day after day and asks for nothing in return.
It doesn’t complain nor seeks plaudits or validation; it is neither burden nor obstacle; it doesn’t advertise itself.
Love is, and it flows from one human toward another and back again, protecting, empowering, and nourishing all those involved.
Whether among family members, in a couple, or within a friendship, love is a force that elevates those it touches, rendering us more capable as it defies and deflects difficulty.
Love is mighty energy made manifest in innumerable spontaneous daily gestures and tiny actions. Intuitive, love never second-guesses itself.
Instead, it follows the directions of a heart devoted to preserving it.
Love is self-evident, honors others, and gives them pride of place in our life as all its components merge to form something greater than the sum of its parts.
Love is the antithesis of loneliness.
Without love, we do not quite live, we never belong; we only exist.
I’m a French-American writer and journalist living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.