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Love Is In The Subtleties.


Over the past year or so, I made it my goal to stop looking for love in the wrong places, to consciously stop willing things and people to love me, to stop trying to prove that I am worthy of love. I made it an aim to deliberately turn to the places from which love was already coming, to invest more of myself and my time in those places, to be more intentional about them. And in the midst of all that, I realized that love is an ever-bounding presence to which we are often oblivious because we are too preoccupied with pursuing things and people that refuse to love us. I realized that love, being loved and cherished, does not always show up in grand, epic gestures nor is it always spelt out in bold letters. It is instead all around us in the small things, in the subtle reminders that we exist, that we are seen, that we are heard, that we matter.

One of the ladies who works in my dorm always calls me, “aşkim” or “bir tanem” my love. And even though she says that to a lot of other people, it always makes my heart full knowing that she sees me enough to call me that too. Another lady refuses to call me by my name; she instead calls me “yakışıklı” handsome because she thinks it suits me better than “Chipo”. I have a classmate who at the end of every school day will without fail say to me, “You can always call me if you need anything.” I never do call, but knowing that I could if I ever needed to is comforting. Whenever Mehmet abi, one of the guards working in the metro station close to my dorm sees me, he says, “Nice jacket,” even though he has seen my jackets a thousand times before. My mate, in whose apartment I spend most weekends, has never told me that he likes having me around. But whenever I don’t show up, he’ll call me and say, “Mwatuluba, aisha?” Have you forgotten about us? I have a friend who always says to me, “How are you actually doing?” even after I say I am doing alright, as if to emphasize that hers is not a mere “How are you?” that hers isn’t just a pleasantry, that hers is one that cares. I have another friend who will never say she misses me, but will instead randomly call me and go, “Chipo, I can’t decide what to eat,” a friend who never tells me she loves me, but every now and then she will say, “I appreciate you. Thank you for being around.”

All these, and many more, are but miniscule, seemingly meaningless occurrences in my life to which I have decided to give relevance because (and I could very well be exaggerating their significance) they mean something. Perhaps they do not all directly entail love. But they are to me subtle, ever-present gestures that remind me that I exist outside myself, that beyond what I see of myself, there’s people who see me too. They are reminders that I occupy even the tiniest spaces in the lives of others, that even though it is probably to a diminutive extent, I matter to them. It is a reminder that I am valued in some way, in some lives more than others, but valued nonetheless. Isn’t that what we often look for? Perhaps I am being dramatic about it all and they mean nothing, but these are the tiny things that I have learnt to turn to on days I feel invisible, on days I feel as though I could walk off the edge of the earth and no one would notice, on days on which I need a pick-me-up. And I honestly believe that it is tiny gestures like these that we are to pay attention to if we are to see, to feel the love and kindness that seems to be in short supply in our world.

See, for the longest time now, we have been fed the narrative that love is something that we must hunt and go out of our way to earn, that we are to prove ourselves worthy of it before we can receive it. But what then makes any of us worthy of love? What renders me deserving of love and the next man not? My being a good person? What about the wretched sides of me hid beneath this burnished exterior? Where does that leave me? So many a people these days go through life thinking that they are unwanted, feeling as though they are unlovable because they aren’t this or that way. But the truth is this there are a thousand things that make us all difficult to love, difficult to be around. Yet we are all adored regardless. And if we paid that bit more attention to the seemingly insignificant subtleties, we would see that. If we opted to focus on where the love is already coming from as opposed to where we want it to come from, we would realize just how cherished we already are.

Look around. There are a million little things that are a testament to your being loved, to your being adored, things that speak volumes of how loved you already are despite how undeserving you feel. There are a thousand reminders that we all matter to a degree. The little things from people around us speak to that. Even nature is a constant reminder of this; for as long as the sun rises on a day, it is a reminder that Heaven adores you. You are already so cherished. The love exists in all the subtleties. And it’s very easy to miss it if you do not stop and look around that bit more every now and then. You do not have to be all put together. With all your rough edges and uneven bits, turn to the subtleties. It’s all there. You are seen, you are heard, you matter.

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