Sometimes, when I’m reading a post on my cellphone, I smile down at it. Finger swipes across its touch screen, seem like gentle strokes. As if I’m caressing it; when I’m waiting for a response, I cradle it; patiently waiting for a text back. A cellular response.
And if I were being watched, I’m almost certain that I’d appear lovingly, smiley faces after every comment. One might think I was in love. Or that my cellphone was the object of my love, as if it could love back. Appearances are deceptive.
On her 58th birthday, my aunt made an announcement, she said that having been without a husband or a boyfriend for an extended period of time; and having grown plumper and fatter over the years, she had decided that she was through with love. And I don’t know why, but I was filled with sadness. She on the other hand, was quite matter-of-fact and jovial about the whole thing.
L…O…V…E… Whether we admit it or not, we all want to love and be loved. We humans require it from birth into adulthood. Just like a plant needs sunshine, our development depends on how much love we’ve been given in our childhood, and then into adulthood. And while physical love is important, it is not as developmentally important as emotional love. Because sometimes you can be in love with someone, and still be very lonely. Like my aunt, who had all the love of family and friends, but something was missing. And it was that something that she silently yearned for.
I’ve learnt that loneliness isn’t just a place where one finds oneself; loneliness is a state of mind. It’s not unusual to be in a relationship and still be lonely, and I believe that you can be in a crowded room and still feel completely alone.
It’s been said, that a body that is not at ease will become diseased, and so it was with my aunt. When she turned 63 years old, she developed a curable cancer, but refused treatment. It seems that in her decision to not love a man, she had stopped loving herself. Or maybe, just by disuse she had forgotten how.
Each life is meant to be shared and we learn from it. I’ve learnt to include the possibility of love in my life; to never shut it down and to never turn it off. I know I can be alone and not necessarily be lonely and most importantly, I don’t have to always be in love, I just need to keep the door to love open.