It’s all about love, actually

Rudyard Harrison

Love Actually, the very entertaining 2003 movie, traces the love lives of eight British couples during the Christmas holidays. T

here is much falling in and out of love, with the right and the wrong people, against the backdrop of the Troggs popular hit Love is all around. The conclusion is that only love can make the world go round…

This rather puerile idea is the well-worn theme of countless novels and television soap operas. Love affairs, of various genres, continue to titillate millions of love weary readers and viewers.

There are heaps of money to be made from the “business” of love. The bright red shelves of supermarkets on Valentine’s Day make no secret of their intentions.

This annual public display of genuine and fake expressions of love has been latched onto eagerly by social media. This year the internet must have been groaning under the weight of text messages, selfies and silly emoticons.

Especially as lovers were under instructions to look and not touch… even blowing kisses was frowned upon!

Apparently pets have never been happier, they were smothered with hugs and kisses. The myth, it is a dog’s world, became a reality.

Seriously, grandiose and dramatic expressions of love to all present at award ceremonies and similar “over the top” events fool no one. Shouting “I love you all” over a pumped up sound system only downgrades the word.

If social distancing has taught us one thing, it is that human beings long for the feel of a warm embrace. We desperately need to be hugged. Our souls slowly shrivel up when we are deprived of regular expressions of affection.

We know that babies who physically bond with their mothers, stand a far better chance of living healthy lives. A long widowed church member, upon being hugged by her pastor, said; you have no idea what your warm greeting means to me… Show genuine affection whenever and wherever you can.

Information leaked from the psychiatrist’s couch, reveals that many adolescents and young adults are in the depths of despair. Anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts have become commonplace.

The reasons are patently clear. The future has lost its ability to captivate. Questions range from “​why am I bothering to matriculate” ​to ​“will I find employment when I have completed my Masters degree?”

It is disturbing in the extreme to converse with a thirty year old who’s facial expression betrays a complete loss of hope for the future. Particularly one who exudes great natural talent and professional expertise.

One of the oddities of the present scenario is the vulnerability of the over-70s and the anxiety of the under-30s. To be fair, pretty much everyone is trembling in their boots for one reason or another.

This is a stark reality of life in 2021. The big question may well be,​ “is there light at the end of the tunnel?” ​Most of us wait impatiently for the sting of a needle in the arm. This is our source of hope.

A minority have stated that they are not interested in vaccination parties. Then, as always, there are the conspiracy theorists. Initially, they got their kicks from denying the seriousness of the virus, now they get high on bad mouthing the vaccine.

They seem to have forgotten the national disaster sparked by those who denied the perils of HIV/AIDS.

How can young and old cope with this morass of uncertainty?

There is so much that is beyond our control. I have commented on two areas of need in this article. The first is the desperate need for warmth and affection.

Make sure that you regularly hug your spouse or significant other, your children, your parents and the other persons in your bubble or cohort. Just don’t follow my example. I am accused of hugging my dog before my wife when I get home from work!

The second is the need for assurance that there is realistic hope for the future. “Alles sal reg kom”, doesn’t cut it! The old stand by, “this too shall pass” has outlived its usefulness and “we are all in this together” is definitely no longer cool.

When you are having a conversation with someone who is worried about the future, try to listen very carefully. Listen with ​rabbit ears…​ Facilitate an outpouring of conflicting feelings.

Take the person ​seriously,​ don’t minimise their fears. Try to identify and empathise with them. They will feel, perhaps for the first time, that they have been heard.

Don’t be afraid to show that you are also concerned and perplexed.

In fact, that you are quite comfortable belonging to the great crowd of wide eyed women and men waiting for the tide to turn. Showing heartfelt affection and empathy to others will demonstrate the true meaning of love, actually.

Peace be with you!

Rudyard Harrison is a retired Methodist minister, and works at the Ruach Counselling Center in Somerset West.