It happened on a random Tuesday in DC. I was home on an unusually warm winter night, and had just polished off a satisfying, albeit unwholesome, bedtime snack, a bag of sea salt and vinegar Dirty potato chips and lemon water. I washed up and climbed into bed, pulling the blankets up to my lap to keep warm. As usual the laptop was open, my cellphone was beeping, the audio book that I had paused four hours prior was waiting to be resumed and the iPad was perched dutifully on the bedside table with Netflix at the ready.

As the beeps, buzzes and flashing red lights created a cheerful chorus heralding sporadic calls, messages and alerts, it happened. Through the frenzy of options jockeying for a share of my time and attention, I felt a familiar tug and a warmth spread through my chest, as a single drop of blood would spread in a glass of water. While idly scrolling through Instagram, something my eyes had seen, and brain instantly processed, caused a swelling up of joyful feelings. The feeling you have when something really good is happening to you.

 

I caught myself smiling and thought to reconcile my sudden joy. It turns out, this surprising wave of emotion was triggered by the sight of two of my favorite people in the world! And interestingly, not ones I’ve known half my life and trusted with my secrets, hopes, fears and dreams, and not my yummy newborn nephews whom I absolutely adore. The two faces, who were bringing me so much warmth and joy, had happened into my life, just four months ago. How could that be? How could I love them so and I only met them last fall?

In just a few short months these girls had laughed with me, complimented me, encouraged me, counseled me, listened to me, held my hand, broke bread with me and I could go on. We had traveled overseas, danced under the stars, cooed over baby pictures and shared in mutual joys and frustrations.

The feelings and emotions we associate with people often come from the way they have regarded us and engaged us. Oh how I loved these faces. And as if on cue, a song started playing in my head Unconditional Love by Jah Cure. It was just like in the movies! Picture in slow motion for dramatic effect.

You see, we leave our comfort zones with low expectations and no plans to really share ourselves. As millennials, we’re endlessly rebuked and over-zealously pronounced self-absorbed, entitled, mentally unstable and dramatic. But not all of us are antisocial zombies hiding behind our devices instead of showing up in the world to love people. There are some pretty amazing  people out here, and I happen to have a met a few of them through the Atlas Corps fellowship.

These amazing people, if you let them, will love you fiercely and will fight for you, pray for you, cry with you, protect you, show up for you and love you exactly as you are, without condition. Now is there anything more fulfilling in this world than to love and be loved?

Growing up we are taught to get an education, find a good job, get married, have babies and build a legacy to leave when we die. But no one shows us how to leave a legacy of love and kindness.

Today, while people pride themselves on being busy, clamoring for public attention and seeking validation from virtual strangers on the internet, my people are busy sending me videos, good morning texts, family photos, and pictures of exotic fruit they found labeled ‘Jamaican’ in the produce aisle.  Or asking about beef patties they found in Costco. Ping! ‘Tas! What are these? Should I get them for you?’

You all are love and light! Thank you! Thank you for your love!

The older I get the more certain I become that the rock stars of our generation may very well not be the entrepreneurs, the chart toppers and the beauty mavens we see online. The real rock stars will be known for their quiet gentle energy, the kind words they whispered, the moments they sat quietly with us in coffee shops, in parked cars, wherever, doing absolutely nothing.

I also put to you that the next frontier in human development rests entirely on improved mental health and the strengthening of the family and interpersonal relationships. Let’s bring back the love!

That Tuesday night as I penned my first blog in years, I thought, you finally sit down to write and it’s about the corniest topic known to man, love! Surely with all the experiences you’ve had in the last few months, you could’ve shared something more engaging. Work, travel, moving to a new city, new year reflections, being blocked, ghosted, getting 1st degree burns! Yet here you are, and and how fitting as the valentine’s season approaches.

As the thoughts tossed about my head, hilarious and reproaching, I smiled deeply, genuinely, knowing that I was loved, and it felt good! Too good not to share.

Cheers to love! And cheers to the amazing women! May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!

Photo: Debby Hudson