I was sitting in a stylish little cafe when the lyrics of a retro 80s soundtrack hit me. I stared into my cup and thought about what the song was asking. The singer had one question: “What is love?”
As I contemplated the lyrics of the song, I suddenly realised that I myself was not sure of the answer to the question. I thought of all the common cliches but how can “love is my cat” answer a question that’s been contemplated since the beginning of human history? If love really was “my cat,” then love would be constantly demanding food, affection and to be let outside, then inside, then outside again. You see what I mean.
Since a Borders bookstore was only a few steps away, I decided to wander in and browse the psychology and philosophy sections to see what I could unearth about love. There had to be a simple answer somewhere among all those books! After all, I was looking for love, so it couldn’t be that complicated, could it?
Unfortunately, I didn’t realise how big the classification was: how to make love, love languages, love and honour, family love, or love and the single life? It went on shelf after shelf. How was I going to find my answer? It would take forever just to read the dust covers on all those books, let alone reading each one through! Confronted by the enormity of the search, I decided to go home and google love. Dangerous, I know, and not the brightest idea. But I’d never actually googled the word “love” before!
So there I sat, waiting to be enlightened. And was I ever! I learned how to calculate love, recite love poems, know my love language, the score of my love test and that people really “love” their pets. I had the dating websites at my fingertips, a whole lot of love quotes and a unique “I-Love-Cheese” site. But alas, I could not find an answer that satisfied. And the question clung like a cat getting a bath. It just wouldn’t let go!
The next day, while waiting for a friend in another little cafe, I noticed a mother struggling by on the footpath outside. She was dragging a heavy suitcase with one hand and balancing a very sleepy young boy on her hip with the other. Every few steps, she would pause and hoist him back up so she wouldn’t drop him. In my boredom of waiting, she was a welcome distraction.
But then something happened. An elderly woman shuffled up to the struggling mother and offered to pull the suitcase for her to the train station nearby. The distraught and overwhelmed mother broke down and cried. And right there, my search for true love ended. An elderly woman answered my question by reaching out to pull a suitcase. There was no reward. There was no fanfare. She did it because she saw a need and stepped up to meet it.
That day, I realised that love isn’t something complicated or profound. Its secret isn’t found in the depths of impressive looking books and it isn’t found surfing the Web. Love is found in simple deeds of kindness to each other. And it’s the most important thing we’ve got. Have you seen love lately?