One of the hardest things about being human and fully awake is the realization that the universe couldn’t care less whether you are happy or safe, or fulfilled, or even alive.
Even to most of the me-shaped pieces of universe I see all around me, I’m just an obstacle between them and the front of the checkout line at Kroger. And more often than I like to admit, they’re 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 the cosmic snub intensely. 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 the problem of mortality, but that crushing universal indifference.
If you’ve ever been there, felt that cold isolation, then had someone smile at you or say something kind, you surely remember the sudden, shocked awareness that some small piece of the world, if only for a moment, was not indifferent to you. It washed over you like a warm bath. It’s the best thing we can do for each other.
I remember. If you’ve never felt it, take my word, holy cow. I’m sure it saves lives.
I haven’t felt that isolation or those moments of respite in 27 years, ever since one particular piece of the universe put me at the center of her concern and let me return the favor. It’s not possible for me to take it for granted, not for a day.
The cure doesn’t have to be romantic love. Learning that it matters that you are here, and that your absence would be deeply felt, does astonishing things for the human heart. And no matter what you believe, it comes most powerfully from other people, who are after all in the same situation.
So there’s my definition of love for Valentine’s Day. It’s a contradiction of the universe.