I thought it was love. In the moment, I was sure of it.
Time stood still as I fantasized about the two of us on the couch, on the beach and in the bathtub. It was a glorious vision that filled me with warmth and contentment. Gently, I reached out to caress the shiny cover of the book that beckoned to me. It seemed to be gleaming with sparkles of divinity. I held it and flipped through the pages, captivated by the words that kissed my gaze.
I must have this, I thought.
I pulled it closer and began to pivot toward the cashier who’d been waiting for me to pay for the cacao powder I’d placed between us. “And…” I started to speak as I turned the book over, but stopped with a sigh when I saw the price tag.
Confronted with the stark reality of the situation, I asked myself, Am I willing to pay that price?
I was not.
“No,” I said aloud as I returned the book to its display station. I turned back to the cashier and nodded toward the cacao powder. “Just this.”
“Good for you,” she told me. “Buy food. We have libraries full of books you can read.”
She was right, of course. I walked out of the store and contemplated the priorities in my life.
“Buy food,” the cashier had said.
Yes… food is important. And what is food? It’s not merely something to eat… it’s not entertainment…not a momentary gratification…real food is nourishment with a long-term payoff.
As I continued to meditate on the merits of physical, spiritual and emotional nourishment, I thought again about the shiny little book that I didn’t buy. I thought about the shelves in my house that are heavy with similar shiny books I haven’t read. And I recalled how much I thought I loved each one of those when I made the purchase.
(I loved them, yet never read them? Hmmm…. no long-term nourishment, there.)
I didn’t yearn to know them. I only wanted to possess them.
That wasn’t love. It was lust.
And what about the books I do truly love? Some sit on shelves in my home. Others don’t. Owning them is a convenience, but not a priority. Many times, I’ve purchased copies of my favorite titles only to give them away. Of the ones I’ve kept, many are worn ragged.
True love isn’t sparkly. It’s not intended for display. It doesn’t require acquisition and proprietorship. Love is not a contract.
Love requires the investment of time, not money. It’s about reading the book, not buying the book. Love intensifies between the covers. And, in some capacity, it lingers after the story ends.
I didn’t love the shiny little book at the health food store.
I do, to some degree, love my ex-husband.