Once again, I’m sitting in a Starbucks. Instead of preparing myself for writing and editing, I’m distracting myself from some work I really want to finish before Monday.
I really enjoy people watching. I like to try and imagine what complete strangers are thinking. I pick out little details and expand them into greater meaning, like Sherlock Holmes trying to solve a mystery. So much is said in body language, and the choices people make, from their clothing to their drink order.
Today while people watching, I considered a simple truth: everyone wants to be loved.
It changes the people watching game completely. That guy over there in the wheelchair, with his head tucked into a book? He wants to be loved. The barista that is moving from one task to another, trying desperately to stay ahead of the orders? She wants to be loved. That college student, typing something on their laptop. That older couple sitting outside, laughing at each other’s jokes. The middle aged programmer/writer sitting by himself, looking at everyone while trying not to seem like a creepy stalker.
I truly believe that everyone, without exception, just wants to be loved.
I’m not talking about a romantic relationship. And I don’t mean simply receiving another person’s attention. I mean that knowledge, that faith, that what you are and who you are matters to another person. That to other people, you exist, and your absence in the world would be felt as a great loss.
Being loved in this world is the light in the darkness. It’s company, when we otherwise would be alone.
From the moment we’re born, we feel it through the hands that hold us and keep us safe and warm. We feel it in our first kiss. We feel it even through the bruises our siblings give us. Because really, it’s our parent’s fault for putting the little brother in steeled toes boots just when he’s learning to kick. Right, Cheryl?
Everyone wants to be loved. It’s why break-ups hurt so much. It’s why the death of a loved one lingers so long in our hearts and minds that their memory can bring tears to our eyes years and years after they’ve departed the world.
Everyone wants to be loved. If I wrote a story where that was the main, underlying motivation of all the characters, what would it look like? The more I think about it, the more I think that the story would look just like real life.
Maybe I’m being naive. Maybe this view is too simple, or not a real universal truth. Maybe it only applies to those of us that are so fortunate as to have their other basic needs met, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Maybe people facing real problems are motivated in a way that is completely alien to me, and I should count myself lucky that I can’t comprehend what the world is like through their eyes.
But I am convinced that whatever hardship we may face, the burden is a little bit lighter knowing that someone loves us. That whatever else may be wrong, we exist in the heart and mind of another person, just as other people exist in our own hearts and minds.