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A few days ago, I searched for the word “love” on my blog, and was surprised at the number of entries that popped up. Part of that is surely due to the fact that I don’t really understand the whole idea of tags and categories. Who can keep track of all those labels running willy-nilly?

While I work on that problem, though, I figure it is probably also worth addressing this other issue that’s running free. Here goes:

I try to pay attention to love. I am working to be grateful of all the ways in which love appears in my life, from the tiny to the huge, which has resulted in everything from voicing my gratitude to friends to smiling at couples on the street (hopefully in a way that is less creepy than that sounds).

Stop? But I love you. Ok.

Stop? But I love you.

Because of that, one of my new favorite activities is seeking out accidental hearts. They are everywhere; I just have to open my eyes to find them.

North Carolina road heart.

North Carolina road heart.

While in Paris, that city of light and romance, I made the deliberate choice to find love. I started taking pictures of couples embracing and holding hands, because I wanted to really see all of it. Sometimes I felt like maybe they had something to teach me, as if peeking at them out of the corner of my eye would grant me understanding. Other times I was simply happy to see that people continually create these little worlds, which mean so much, together. Now I have many pictures of these affectionate strangers I’ll never know; I am grateful to them for the kindness of visibility they unknowingly bestowed upon me.

Notre Dame snuggle.

Notre Dame snuggle.

In the last several weeks, as I’ve seen it in action in so many ways, I have recalled my belief that love is the origin of all that is good in the world, whether that is love of another person or love of a place, cause, art, community, or land. It makes me into more than I think I am; it makes me better than I know I can be. And there is power in that, a possibility to realize inspiration and imagination.

Sweet little rock heart.

Californian baby rock heart.

So I marvel at the ways in which these spontaneous hearts appear, all over everywhere, urging me to see them. They seem at times like a little road map, while at other times I feel like I am on a scavenger hunt. I think they are here to remind me to trust in my own heart, to believe with full confidence that it cannot lead me astray. I am cheered by them. It is such a simple thing; I feel somehow like a child to admit it.

Lovable misshapen heart.

Lovable misshapen heart.

Love itself is not always as simple as a found heart. There is something in love that is dangerous, almost; wild. It takes guts and courage, and more than a small dose of insanity. I am lucky to have been in love, which I usually remember. If I momentarily forget that, I return to a mantra that helps settle the beating of my own heart:

I believe in love.

I say it to myself again:

I believe in love.

Ultimately, I believe that this invisible, intangible, and so often inexplicable force is guiding me, as it is guiding each one of us, though it sometimes seems to require something of me that I’m not sure how to give.

Flip-flop heart.

Flip-flop heart.

Yet from everything I’ve seen and experienced, I think that having more love in the world is good for everyone, and I want to be a person who encourages the discovery and growth of it. Sometimes I hope, simply, that I am ultimately remembered as someone who served as a conduit for love, though there is something in that – a limit of my own – that also scares me.

Sweet Brooklyn heart.

Sweet Brooklyn heart.

So I try to recognize the beauty of love, even when it also leaves in its wake a feeling of longing. I can survive longing. I can be patient. And I imagine that these found hearts are whispering reminders of that.

LoveLeaf Heart.

LoveLeaf Heart.

There is so much in the world. There is adventure and travel. There is work and art. There is growth and freedom. There is friendship and family. There is passion and joy.

And alongside all of it, there is love.

Not even chilly Iceland holds back its love.

Not even chilly Iceland holds back its love.

…at least from what I can figure out.

But then again, just look at my lists of tags and categories to know that this is still a work in progress, a snow globe world I am curiously turning around in my hands even as I walk through the real world, connecting found hearts along the way.


*I have been struggling with this post, and am returning to it now, after I’ve published it, to say that what I’ve written here doesn’t ring completely true for me. It is a bit more Pollyanna than I really feel, even though I am an optimistic person who finds strength in much of what I’ve said.

I think that this searching of hearts and love is an attempt to validate my belief of many of the words I’ve written here: that I cannot be led astray if I follow my heart, that the faith I’ve had in love is not mistaken, that my choices in how to act and what to see right now will influence what happens next. I have a sense of this, but who is to say? Anything can happen, I finally understand that there are no guarantees, and I know I am not an expert on this.

I often feel like I am seeking stable ground in something I’ve held closely for a very long time, finding new ways to embrace and respect my own definition of the emotion and the action of love. With this scavenger hunt of found hearts, I think I am hoping to ultimately find the way back to my spirit.

Post stays up, for now.

2 comments on “The heart of the matter*

  1. Heather McGee says:

    Love this, and you. ❤

    1. Anna says:

      Many thanks, and you know I’m sending you the same!

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