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to love and be loved.
George SandWhy does love matter? I think it's really all that does. Everything else that matters, matters because of love. If a fi re burns, it matters because someone or something we love might be hurt, even destroyed. If a birthday is celebrated, the celebration matters only if we are surrounded by those that we love. If a life is mourned, it is not mourned for what was accomplished nearly so much as for the love that will be missed.
If you listen to my nightly radio show, you know I refer to myself as the "Queen of Sappy Love Songs," so it seems natural that I would believe love matters, but what do I mean by love? Any attempt at definingor maybe a better word is describingwhat I think love is will fall short, but a feeble attempt is important as we indulge our hearts in a multitude of stories of love that matters.
A lot of people think love is an emotionthat uplifting feeling we carry in the core of our bodies when we are rushing headlong into a new relationship. When I was a teenager, and again as a young woman, I thought that each time I felt that surge of joy and energy in my chest (and other places farther south), I was experiencing "Love." It got to be such a joke with my girlfriends that my childhood pal Dee Dee had a T-shirt printed up with the message "It's for real this time," because each time I felt I was in love, I would declare with all the sincerity a seventeen-year-old girl can muster, "Really, this is the real thing, it is love this time ." I still think the intoxicating high of romance, the dizzying experience of having your senses overwhelmed while falling in love, can be part of real love, but just a tiny part.
Some of the bead-wearing hippies I used to hang out with back in the day in Eugene, Oregon, explained to me that love was a force, an energy fi eld that surrounds us with light. They told me that I could meditate, dance or chant to create more of this positive love energy swirling and fl owing all around me. It seems to me that love is created by building relationships rather than by waving your hands over your head in a snakelike motion, the way my friends in tie-dyed shirts encouraged me to do as they listened to the music of Bob Marley and partook of herbal enlightenment. Still, I believe in the positive energy of love, which empowers and inspires all who love and are loved.
The more years I spend on this planet, the more I realize how very little I know about anything, and that includes relationships. I fi nd it ironic that I host a radio show focused on relationships and love songs when I've been divorced three times and even now don't have all the answers to how to make relationships work and endure. Still, I feel I've learned a lot about love over the years, both from my own life experiences and from the touching love stories listeners confi de in me when they phone in to my radio show every night or when they e-mail me.
One of the amazing things I have discovered these past few years, as I rethink all my previous beliefs and attitudes about relationships, is what a cruel disservice we do to young people when we impose on them "rules" of relationships that were once handed down to us. Among the "rules" I have had to unlearn is the belief that you can only love one person in your life. Or if you love one person and that relationship comes undone, you can't love another until you "stop" loving Person A. Or if you love Person B, then you certainly can't still be in love with Person A. Especially if Person A is a jerk or has abused your heart in any way. It may not seem reasonable to go on loving a person who is defi cient in kindness or compassion or other admirable qualities, but as the philosopher Pascal famously said, "The heart has reasons that reason knows nothing of."
I think the reason my radio show has enjoyed such popularity is that when my listeners call in to request a song or share a dedication, they trust me with their heart. They let me "know" a bit about their situation, their dreams or their lovers. Despite the public forum, people feel safe allowing me to peek into the windows of their heart each and every night. It's a phenomenon that I don't understand and haven't seen with any of my radio host peers, but after just a four- or five-minute conversation with me, a complete stranger, listeners often share thoughts, feelings, secrets that they haven't felt comfortable sharing with those closest to them. Maybe the level of anonymity, given that I am merely a disconnected voice on the radio and they are calling from the privacy of their own home, without a face or a last name and perhaps even with a made-up fi rst name, gives them the freedom to be transparent. The level of intimacy people feel toward me and my staff is a gift and an honor that I thank God for every day.
When callers let me into the innermost recesses of their hearts, I try to be very, very respectful. I won't ever air a call, no matter how juicy or compelling or funny or powerful, if the person who has opened their heart to me would be harmed or hurt in any way. For instance, one night a woman called me to dedicate a song to her "boyfriend"the man she was having an affair with behind her husband's back. Her husband was a cop. Who carried a gun. Who was jealous Needless to say, that call was never aired.
Former bosses have said to me about such callers, "They know they are going to be recorded and put on the air. Who cares if they got foolish and shared things they shouldn't have saidit's great radio!" But I care far less about ratings than about respect. I would not feel good about myself or my show if I ever exploited anyone. God did not elevate me to the position I am in to hurt others.
I play love songs every night, thousands of them over my career in radio. (I fi gured out the math one timeI play ten or eleven songs per hour, fi ve hours a night. I've been doing this show for almost 24 yearsthat adds up to over 335,125 songs, not counting my weekend shows!) I know the lyrics to love songs from every decade since the 40s, when my parents started collecting records. I know the lyrics to silly love songs, tragic love songs and sex-you-up love songs (Oh, Barry White, sing to me ). Some of these songs make a mockery of love, and most touch upon just one aspect of loveromantic love. But many try to encompass the total nature and essence of love, and when the words of these songs marry the melody and cadence, the result is truly amazing. A young woman named Monica wrote and recorded a song called "For You I Will," and the lyrics touch upon what I think real love is, the kind of love that makes life worth living. When you love someone with the kind of love described in the lyrics of this songwhen you love so much that you would be willing to put your life on the line, to fi ght, even die, for the one you lovethen that's ultimate love, the kind God has for us.
I've read stories, in the newspaper and online, of soldiers fighting overseas who throw themselves on a grenade in order to save the lives of their comrades. In 2006 I sat in Landstuhl, the military hospital in Germany, holding the hands of young American servicemen and womensome just boys and girls who had lost limbs and organs, fi ghting wars in the Middle East they didn't necessarily understand. What surprised me the most was the love their fellow soldiers displayed when they visited them. Oh, the tears that ran down those strained and weary faces, old before their time, as they held the hands of their wounded friends. And one after another wounded soldier told me, "I want to go back and be with my buddies."
I know I feel that way for my children and close family members, but as I grow in love, I realize there are other people God has brought into my life that I would also fi ght for, even die for. It amazes me when I try to understand that God loves all of us this muchthat is a concept far too profound for me to comprehend. There are about a dozen people, outside of my children, to whom I would not hesitate to donate a major organ in order to save their lives, even if I still needed that organ. But the thought of giving up my life for a stranger, or a con artist who swindles people out of their hard-earned money, or a child molester who escapes justice or a man who beats his wife and kids that is a type of love I will never be able to understand or emulate. I'm not that loving. I'm glad God is.
Although I'm no poster child for wedded bliss, my marriages did begin in love and had some special moments, and my relationships with family and friends have endured and taught me much about everlasting love. I've also learned to appreciate love because of the times I didn't feel I had enough of it. Many radio stations change "air personalities" as frequently as every eighteen months, and earlier in my career I had to relocate quite a bit. This led to some pretty lonely times, far away from loved ones, trying to cope as a single mom. And I've known the pain of losing lovethe pain of being disowned by my dad and his family when, at age twenty-one, I married an African-American man; the pain of losing my brother Matt and his wife in a plane accident; the pain of being left by my fi rst husband for another woman; the pain of multiple divorces and of having to tell my children that they would no longer live in a two-parent home.
It's love that's given me my mission in life, to be a voice for those who have no voice. I have spent my entire life being a "voice" on the air, sharing thoughts and words each night. And since 2003, I've tried to be the voice for the children born into destitution in a refugee camp at Buduburam, Ghana, that has been the main focus of my Point Hope Foundation. Point Hope also seeks to be the voice of thousands of children stuck in the foster care system in the United States.
With God's direction and inspiration, and the help and love of many others, I've been able to keep my promise to the mothers of Buduburam that I would fi nd a way to ge... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
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