Like most LA natives, whenever temperatures drop below 67 degrees, I am of course caught without my ideal attire (Alaskan ice fisherman-chic) and forced to brave the arctic tundra. So, there I was Tuesday night in my paper-thin shirt and unhelpful jacket, head down, arms crossed, speed-walking to meet a friend for dinner. Adele’s cover of “Make You Feel My Love” was playing in my headphones when I passed by the town church, notable for its weekly quotes displayed on it’s movie marquee. Out of habit, I checked the week’s quote.
Maybe it was Adele’s buttery voice approaching the song’s heavenly crescendo or the fact that I had gone to therapy just hours before and was feeling particularly introspective, but this week, the church’s typically unremarkable quotes grabbed me.
As I brushed my teeth the next morning, the quote continued to pace back and forth in my mind the way you would when customer service puts you on eternal hold, blasting staticky jazz music into the phone as you wait.
Why is it, that in an age where our technology allows us to communicate almost instantly—to whomever, from wherever—we still keep our words under lock and key? Why do we express our feelings as if we’re only allotted Twitter’s mere 280 characters or less? Or lose our voice in the softness of an afternoon breeze or the quiet of new dawn? How come we are we blind to these secretly sacred moments, the moments that actually matter most? As a generation that prides itself on our ability to stay connected, why do we have such a hard time extending ourselves to others, especially to those we share important relationships with?
Log onto any social media platform and you’ll be presented with a buffet of delicious content from your own inner circle. Family members, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, acquaintances all broadcasting one significant subconscious message: I am alive.
We take for granted the fact that we can pretty much know where everyone is at all times, what they’re doing, and who they’re with. Through social media updates, geotagging, or Find My Friends, it seems as though we don’t give each other time to be missed. We consume the content of each other’s lives the way you’d consume your local weather channel; half-heartedly checking just to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary. We assume the people in our lives will send in their reports, we anticipate it, like the next tick of a metronome.
Not only do we ignore time, but we also take advantage of it as if it were under our control. As if we have the power to know the timing of our lives and the lifespan of our relationships. Convincing ourselves time is on our side is practically threaded in our DNA. We think to ourselves, “I just watched her Instagram Story—looks cool—so do I really need to reach out to her now? They seem fine. I can give her a call next week, or I’ll text her back in a few days. She seems busy, I don’t want to bother her. I have time, I’ll do it later.”
It is all too easy to take a passive role in our relationships, watching each other from a distance and forgetting that there is much more to a person than what they chose to share on social media. Discounting the reality of a person’s life, opting instead to follow the lovely, bite-sized narrative they’ve served to us online, we miss the opportunities to reach out and genuinely ask, “How are you?” And sometimes, in the worst cases, time catches up to us and we are faced to live with the regret of that missed opportunity.
There are some nights—more than I’d like to admit—where I lie on my bed or sit in an empty living room chair, waiting for my phone to pierce the silence with an echoing “ping!”, notifying me that I haven’t been forgotten, haven’t been left behind. In the end, we all just want to know that we are anchored to someone, to the relationships we hold dear.
Of course, loneliness is a part of life. There’s nothing more valuable than learning to be alone, finding love and peace in the company of yourself. However, loneliness can be overwhelming. You can feel its weight pressing down heavy on your chest like a wave, a Maverick, pulling you under until you’re left in complete darkness.
There is a reason “Make You Feel My Love” is so iconic; why a song that was released the year I was born, has found its way on my Spotify playlist one chilly Tuesday night, 21 years later. It serves to remind us that love does not come from passivity, love requires action.
So, if you’re thinking of someone this Valentine’s Day, let them know.
If you love someone let them know.
If you miss someone let them know.
If you want someone let them know.
If you are sad let someone know.
If you are scared let someone know.
Be brave. Take action. Let them know, today and every day because hearts can be broken by words unspoken.