The Bank of Love that Pays Interest
Nat King Cole
wrote the song "Nature Boy" which caused a poor family who called a specific tree home to go into hiding elsewhere but left behind a message that is still sweet to the ears of those that seriously desire some purpose in life. Mr. Cole crooned, "the greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."
I was brought up by my grandparents and heard this song and it made a strong impression on me. The strange thing was that the more I thought about the concept of love and how one feels love the more I had to admit that I couldn't isolate any feeling that I had felt to that point which I could clearly label as love. I also knew enough about the word love to not be able to reconcile its various uses that seemed to be rather ambiguous in purpose.
My grandparents loved me greatly I later found out but had to restrain how they showed it least my parents who's love was often buried under covetousness, resentment, pride, self-loathing and the like threatened to take me away from my Grandparents if they got to adamant in forcing my parents to behave. It took me years to see it in that light and accept it as such but when I was young it all felt rather cold and impossible to feel. The fact that love somehow was supposed to be the greatest thing to learn how to do and to be loved in return was something to aspire to was mind boggling to me as a child. I am a stubborn person however and the thought stuck in my craw like none other.
When I was a little older I saw the first touches of infatuation and people talking about girlfriends and boyfriends and a, "love" they shared one for another that often ended up in someone having to drop out or short lived relationships that ended in enmity that tore long standing friendships and social groups apart. No one seemed to be interested in me in that way and I didn't count the girl at church who couldn't leave me alone in that category as I didn't feel anything for her other then a sense of pity. She must have been hard up on friends to seek my company. This wasn't true at all as I latter found out but because of this exemption and reading plays like Romeo and Juliet I said to myself, "what is so important about a feeling that seems to cause more problems then it solves."
When I read that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to be butchered by the world I didn't understand that either and asked myself, "What was accomplished by Christ being killed?" "Who wanted that to happen?" "Was God such a masochist that he was willing to be rebuffed by the human race over and over again?" "What does it feel like to want to hurt like that for anyone?"
No I just didn't get the concept for some time but I kept at it. I believed Nat King Cole with a rather foolish and unquestioning sort of faith. I learned how to sing it and I memorized the song. This wasn't hard but I sincerely wanted to know.
When I asked my girlfriend who is now my wife...the same girl who felt the intense need to talk with me as a child...why she loved me, she recounted to me the many things that I was and did that showed her my dedication to our relationship. She mentioned my attentiveness to knowing what would brighten her day. She told me about my seemingly endless patience in hearing her babble about this that or the other for Sundays on end. She recounted to me the many times that I was willing to talk to her at any time of the day or night when she needed it and how I usually found something for her to eat if it was in my power to do so even when her father's fridge was bare after her mother disowned her. Many other things she recounted when I was curious about why she loved me.
I was fascinated. Love was a verb not and adjective. Who would have considered such a thing? It had nothing to do with what payment I received for my actions. It had to do with my instincts when I knew someone to constantly be concerned and act towards their improvement as people. I am not always the most tactful of people and so some of my efforts went unnoticed or weren't appreciated in the spirit that they were meant but I was able to look back at the people I know and still do know who could see that in me and they seemed to show the same care and consideration for me. It wasn't gooey. It wasn't flashy. It possibly could have gone unnoticed if I hadn't been looking for it but it was reciprocation.
I could then see in retrospect how people loved me who I wouldn't have previously thought had loved me. I found that love sometimes can come cloaked as something else entirely. You know what? I am ok with that. I cant help the scars that are in my soul on account of my past and the struggles I have had with the hand that life dealt me but I can be concerned for the welfare and needs of others. I can and do still make a difference. I don't keep score or record. What would be the point in that. It isn't like getting thanked for that concern makes your concern that much more valid.
There is a simple truth though that Nat King Cole was right about all along. The greatest thing in the world is to love and be loved in return. I found that truth in the eyes of the woman I love and am loved in return by. Through her eyes I was then able to see the world in a whole new light and shine that same light in new places I never considered doing so before.