On September 4, 2017 my husband George and I found ourselves celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary on different sides on the world. This was the first-time ever being apart on our anniversary. That morning, without hesitation, I would have traded waking up next to Mont Blanc in France for waking up next to him in my Vermont home. I would have traded the fresh pastries and smooth espresso of Europe for day-old toast and stale coffee at our tiny kitchen table. Despite my yearning for him, the physical distance between us provided an opportunity for me to better understand love.
During the day, I thought about the meaning of love and determined that defining love in words is difficult as each time I thought I had created a definition, I found it to be insufficient. I then began reflecting on how love comes in countless forms. We love people. We love places. We love things. Each of these many forms of love share a common thread, as each love leads us to embrace something outside of ourselves.
I think about my love for places and things. I love running. I love mountains. These are all things that I feel deep affection for as each helps me find solace and helps me move toward a place where I can better love myself and others, but there is no reciprocation of feelings. I’ve honestly never really put much thought into the idea that these feelings are unilateral. Perhaps at times, I have personified running and the mountains. When I have had a great or terrible run, I have compared the relationship to one that I might have with friends. When I feel like I have found something I was in need of while out in the mountains, I feel like they have delivered me a gift. Even if these things that I love cannot embrace me as I embrace them, I realize that they are special to me and play an important role in my being. Even though I have a special relationship with running and the mountains, these places and things are not as extraordinary as the love that exists between George and I.
I know that in loving another person there is an inherent risk, as allowing oneself to love requires vulnerability. This exposure has proven difficult for me at times, so much that here have been points in my life that I have tried to suppress and control love purely out of fear. You can love, but reciprocation is not guaranteed and that alone has caused me to put up walls of caution. It has taken patience from others and from myself, but with time I have learned that the power of feeling loved and being loved is mind bending. This type of love in a relational form means there is a loved and a beloved. My relationship with George has shown me is that real love means loss of egotism. Real love emerges when one person believes in another person and shows it.
The belief that emerges out of love that George has for me is irrefutable. His belief in me is disproportional to my self-belief, his being far greater and in my eyes overwhelmingly generous. Nonetheless, his belief in me is a gift, as he gives me hope when I myself may have none. At times, his love allows me to see inside his eyes. I see the world how he sees the world. I see how he sees me and this allows me to better understand and accept his belief. His love for me helps me in everyday life and when I pursue my love of running and moving through the mountains.
Just days before our anniversary, I started UTMB. Because we wouldn’t be together on race day, George had written me a note to read prior to the race. A section of the note said, “You are an amazing lady, and I can’t tell you how many times I have looked over at you and been absolutely awestruck by how lucky I am to have you in my life, as my wife and best friend… Believe in yourself and let me hear you roar!” After reading that note, I took a black Sharpie marker and wrote “BELIEVE” on the toebox of my left shoe and then “ROAR” on the right. My left shoe reminded me of his belief in me, while also acknowledging to myself that it’s okay to believe in myself. My right foot was the reminder to not be afraid to show my courage and strength or as we say to each other, “Let me hear you roar!” I knew that despite the physical distance between us, he was with me each moment leading up to the race and during each step that I took on course. I knew that he supported me as I pursued my love of running, even if it meant we celebrated our anniversary together at a later date.
Loving my husband George makes me a happier and more fulfilled person. Loving running and the outdoors gives me the motivation to get out of bed and explore each day. It helps me seek a better understanding of myself, others, and nature. The love we have for people, places, and things requires work, patience, and care, but I have discovered the risk is well worth the rewards.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- Have you pondered the different kinds of love you have for running, your other hobbies, natural places, family, friends, spouses, children, and perhaps even pets? Can you articulate how the different kinds of love are similar and different?
- What unique qualities does your love for your life partner have?