My mother always lined the bottom of her cards with X’s and O’s. It’s one of the many things I’m grateful to have learned from her. I write them often, perhaps too often, perhaps to the point where their intended meaning gets lost.
Still, sometimes those letters are exactly enough. Sometimes they are more meaningful than the hundred words preceding them. Sometimes they are the most important part of my messages.
How do you write a hug? How do you put into words the resplendent joy of pressing your body against another and feeling them tightly hold you back? How can you ever, in any language, with thousands upon thousands of available words, describe a kiss? What if these things are so extraordinary that they can only be represented by an ‘X’ and an ‘O’? What if they are as simple and as complex as that?
What if the most powerful word is love?
Love for parents.
Love for children.
Love for siblings.
Love for friends.
Love for boyfriends and girlfriends and spouses.
Love for animals.
Love for flowers.
Love for trees.
Love for the ground beneath our feet and the sky above our heads.
Love for rivers and lakes and oceans.
Love for the water in our cups.
Love for the food on our tables.
Love for the sun and the moon and the stars.
Love for literature.
Love for history.
Love for those who fought for our present.
Love for those who fight for the future.
Love for kindness.
Love for mischief.
Love for laughter and those who share it.
Love for those who are gone and those who remain.
Love for people.
Love for ourselves.
Love for life.
Love for love, a word I use often, perhaps too often, but entirely not enough. It is a magical word. It applies to so many and so much. It changes the way we think and see and act. It defines us. It saves us. It is the greatest thing we can feel and the most significant thing we can say. It is what every word I have ever written has been an expression of. It is X’s and it is O’s. It is what breaks our hearts, by which I mean, it is what breaks us open, forever.
You have felt it, I’m sure, that moment when the flower of your body opened to the sweet nectar of the world. Did you drink it in? Did you share it? Did you understand what it was? Did you spend every moment delighting in the love all around you? Did you change your life?
Did you awake this morning on Valentine’s Day madly in love with the world? If not, find that love now. You know how to do it. You’ve known how to do it all along. It is as simple and as complex as the blossoming of petals, as hugs and kisses, as XOXO.