I was recently asked to put some thoughts into writing on the theme of love for two close friends who are getting married next weekend. So that's what I'm doing, but I won't speak only to marriage/romantic love, which is a limiting way to talk about love in my opinion. Marriage (especially with kids) could just be a vast government conspiracy to promote abstinence anyway, but that's depressing--especially on the eve of a wedding--so let's not go there.
Instead, let's talk about showing up, which are the two words to which all forms of love can be reduced. I hesitate to quote Woody Allen, because he's gross and creepy. But he was right when he said (or supposedly said) that 90% of life is showing up. I'll take that a step further, to the conclusion that 90% of love is showing up.
Our time--especially our in-person time, is valuable and increasingly fractured. We parcel out tiny slivers of our time each day in service of smoothly operating and managing the machinery of our daily lives. We go through the perpetual motions of that grind, all the while distracted and diverted by pings, rings, and screens.
Now more than ever, showing up for someone, in person and not distracted, is the ultimate expression of love, because it offers the single most valuable thing we as human beings have to give to each other: our undivided time and attention.
So what do I mean when I say love is showing up? There are lots of examples, but here are a few:
Love is sitting with someone during their chemo treatments. Love is driving to someone's house in the middle of the night when they're scared because one of their family members hasn't come home yet. Love is bringing someone their favorite magazines and candy just because. Love is helping someone pack up their belongings from their parents' house when their family disowns them for loving the "wrong" person. Love is listening with acute attention and empathy. It's accepting someone as they are--with all their limitations--and without trying to fix them or solve their problems for them.
In short, love is taking the time to show up for people, and then following through. It's making the effort to set aside your own ego and priorities, and make someone else's life a priority for awhile. It's the ability to recognize the things that matter to other people, to know when you are needed and wanted, and then simply showing up to truly be present with them in those moments.
So yeah. 90% of love is showing up for someone. The other 10% is not getting mad when they pick all the M&M's out of your trail mix.