One of the hardest things about being human is realizing that the universe couldn’t possibly care less than it does whether you are happy or safe, or fulfilled, or even alive. And most of the pieces of the universe all around us — the ones shaped like us — only rise slightly above that level of zero concern. Most of the time, I’m just an obstacle between them and the front of the checkout line at Kroger. On most days, if I’m honest, they’re usually about the same to me.
The loneliness and isolation of being a feeling thing in an uncaring universe can be devastating. There was a time when I felt it intensely for several years running. It helped me understand why people are drawn to the idea of a loving God, an insight I’ve never forgotten. It solves not just death, but that crushing universal indifference.
If you’ve ever been there, then had someone smile at you or say something kind, you probably remember the momentary realization that at least some small piece of the universe was not indifferent to you. You probably remember it washing over you like a warm bath. I sure do. If you’ve never felt it, take my word, holy cow. I’m sure it saves lives.
I haven’t felt that terrible isolation or those brief respites in about 24 years, ever since one particular piece of the universe put me at the center of her concern and let me return the favor.
So there’s my definition of love for Valentine’s Day. It’s a contradiction of the universe.