For a brief time in my life, when I was in college, I started listening to a lot of Lyle Lovett. There’s actually a story behind that, but it’s not really one I like telling because it has a not-so-good ending, so you’ll just have to guess as to why I started doing this. My favorite album of his is probably Joshua Judges Ruth, although The Road to Ensanada has some really good stuff on it, too. Joshua probably wins out, though, because of “North Dakota,” still one of my favorite songs of all time.
I had a decent collection of Lovett’s albums for a while, although I think I traded them all away over time. One of the more peculiar ones was I Love Everybody. I say “peculiar” because it just had some weird songs on it, like “Fat Babies” and “They Don’t Like Me.” I also thought the title was a little strange. I mean, who loves everybody anyway?
I can’t put my finger exactly on when it happened. Maybe it was after my dad passed away, and I realized I hadn’t told him a lot of things I wish I had. Maybe it was when I turned 40 and realized I wasn’t going to live forever. Maybe it was when I started taking an antidepressant, and my brain chemistry changed. Whatever the case, I’ve not only found myself loving more people these days, I’ve also caught myself telling them so more often than I ever have.
There’s a fine art to telling someone you love them, and it’s one that I haven’t quite mastered yet. I mean, you can’t just blurt it out unannounced, but you can’t really telegraph it either. And you have to have a pretty solid relationship with a person to even think about going there. The danger is, once you do it a few times, it starts to feel surprisingly good, so then you get tempted to just start throwing it out there at random. This, I can tell you from experience, is not such a great idea.
All of this leads up to the question: How do we know if we love someone or not? Well, I don’t know if I’m qualified to answer that question. Maybe Sammy Hagar had it right when he sang “I can’t tell you, but it lasts forever.” In all seriousness, though, it’s a tough call to make. I used to feel as if I didn’t love very many people at all. These days, I’m realizing I love a lot of people I don’t even like all that much. Something just clicks in your heart.
I think my recent affection has something to do with my realization that while not everyone in the world may be dealing with depression, they’re all definitely going through something, and if their something is anything like my something then my heart goes out to them. Whether it was Plato or Philo of Alexandria or Scottish author and theologian Ian Maclaren who said it, we all should “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” When you touch the bottom of something like depression, you have an urge to not waste any more time in letting the people you care about know how you feel about them. I think this is because we don’t want them going down there, too.
Guess what then? I love you and you and you and you. If you don’t like me saying that, I’ll just apologize now, ’cause I’m probably gonna say it again at some point. I may not love everybody yet, but I’m workin’ on it.