I’m in a big The Avett Brothers music phase of life – not the first time, and certainly I hope not the last. I was reaching an old To Write Love on her Arms blog post that shares the liner notes from The Avett Brothers album and was blown away. It’s a pretty beautiful and brilliant thought if you ask me. I highly recommend listening to their I and Love and You song here.
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 (and irresponsibly) by millions, the words are said in an unending array of circumstances — whispered to the newborn in a mother’s 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 (isn’t it sad that our children are embarrassed by love) in the company of their friends (true friends would respect love), and by grown children—to their fading parents in hospital beds (oh the inhumanity of the anonymous hospital, the terrible final destination for too many). 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, as 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 amongst near strangers, burst forth casually as “love ya!” Truly? To what degree? Why? How much? And for how long? These are questions (deserving answers) befitting the stature of LOVE, though not the everyday banter of vague acquaintance. The words have also been TWISTED by the dark nature of deceit: to say “I love you” with a dramatic measure of synthetic emotion: a SNARE set by those who prey on fellow humanity (I am so sorry), driven to whatever selfish end, to gain access to another’s body, or their money, or their opportunity (I intended neither of these). In this realm the proclamation is disgraced by one seeking to gain rather than to give.
In any case, and by whatever inspiration, these words are woven deeply into the fibers of our existence. Our longing to hear them from the right place (from the right person at the right time) is maddeningly and simultaneously our finest strength and our most gentle weakness. As living people we are bound by this unavoidable parallel. We are powerful yet weak, capable yet temporary.
We are products of Love surrounded by STRUGGLE.
A chapter in the story of young men (explaining to young women) The Avett Brothers bridge the space BETWEEN the uncertainty (I Understand) of youth and the reality of its release. As far as questions go, there are plenty—the most basic and relatable doubt comes through with a resounding clarity. OUTSIDE of the eternal theme of Romantic Love (let us be friends)—there is a landscape of light-filled rooms, word-filled pages, time machines, forgiveness, singing birds!, falling leaves, beautiful trees, moving clouds, ocean waves, art, change, confessions of short-comings, AND REASONS TO CONTINUE ON.
HOPE and a cause for smiling follow naturally. In the midst of all of this, there are allusions to the less-than-ideal conditions of LIFE: the loss of memory, the inability to control temper, insecurity, indecision, jaded indifference (Causing so much pain), and the general plague of former and current weakness. Emotional IMPERFECTION is a reality.
The words “I Love You” have become “hard to say.” And perhaps that difficulty is as common as its 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.