Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I and Love and You
I've always liked the lyric from Snow Patrol's song, Chasing Cars, "Those three words are said too much, they're not enough." Every time I hear the song it makes me think--how often we say those three words; how sometimes they begin to lose their meaning. They become rote. Tired. Cliche. How then can we say them differently, infuse them with more meaning? Spruce them up and give them new life?
And then the other day I was trying to find out more about the non-profit organization "To Write Love on Her Arms". This group is committed to helping people who are dealing with depression, self-injury, addiction and suicide. As I was scrolling through the blog I found these words--gleaned from the liner notes of the Avett Brothers' album, I and Love and You. It's their mission statement. Their mission statement! It seems I'm not the only one wondering about those three little words.
"The words 'I' and 'Love' and 'You' are the watermark of humanity. Strung together, they convey our deepest sense of humility, of power, of truth. It is our most common sentiment, even as the feeling of it is so infinitely uncommon: each to proclaim these three words with his or her very own heart and mindset of reason (or lack thereof); a proclamation completely and perfectly new each time it is offered. Uttered daily and nightly by millions, the words are said in an unending array of circumstances : whispered to a newborn in a mothers arms; shared between best friends on the playground; in the form of sympathy - said by a girl to a boy, as the respect continues but the relationship does not. It is said too loudly by parents to embarrassed children in the company of their friends, and by grown children - to their fading parents in hospital beds. The words are thought in the company of the photograph and said in the company of the gravestone. It is how we end our phone calls and our letters... the words at the bottom of the page that trump all those above it, a way to gracefully finish a message, however important or trivial, with the most meaningful gift of all : the communication of love. And yet the words themselves have been the victims of triviality, a ready replacement for lesser salutations among near strangers, burst forth casually as 'love ya.' Truly? To what degree? Why, how much, and for how long?
The conclusion of the song from which the title is taken admits that the words 'I love you' have become 'hard to say'. And perhaps that difficulty is as common as it's counterpart. Perhaps the inability to say these heaviest of words is as much a part of life as the lighthearted candor of those who say them without any difficulty at all. And so it ends with the phrase whispered to and by those of us most defeated and most elated... I and love and you."
Maybe what we need to do is think about our intention every time we utter the words. Change them up. Twist them. Say them the same.
But say them with the intent to bestow a gift upon the person you are speaking to, with the full knowledge that they could change a moment.
Change a life.