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Love is a tough thing to catch up on.

I really should tell my favorite teachers how much they really meant to me. I should tell my biggest influences that they impacted my growth as a person. I should write to the authors of the books that transformed my life. I’m sure they would love an uplifting note. I should tell my old family members and and friends who are approaching average life expectancy.

I should tell the grocery checker who is about 2 decades too old to sport the purple hair she has, but somehow pulls it off because she’s coupled it with an eternally optimistic demeanor. I should let her know much it brightens my day when I walk in and see her handing out stickers to the kids in her line, and chatting it up with the boisterous customers. I don’t even know her name. Maybe that’s because I’d rather not chat it up with my grocery checkers, and when I come through, she senses and respects that. And that is a way of spreading joy too.

And then there’s that Uber driver, the flight attendant, the Starbucks employee, and a thousand more…

I should tell them all.

I should put my family on hold just for a little while and make a list of all the people I’ve missed, and then hold off my responsibilities a little longer to write them all letters.

I’m kidding. I wouldn’t do that to my family. Instead, I’m tempted to stay up long nights and fray the ends of my already-sleep-deprived nerves trying to at least tick off the top several names, and then feel guilty about the rest.

Actually, I would most likely wad the whole mental list into a crumpled ball of guilt, shame, and angst, and throw it atop the Mountain of Failures, the caves of which house my inner critics.

If I were reading your thoughts right now…

…and they sounded like mine, I think I would be tempted to put an arm around you and speak gently, “It’s okay. You’re a good person. This is not a burden you have to carry. The desire that burns in you to express your love has already made you a better person.”  I should say the same to me.

If you have the opportunity and the urge to do so, drop someone a line. But loving backward is difficult. Instead, love forward. Keep short accounts.

When love begins to ripen in your heart, give it away before it rots. There is no perfect moment to pluck it. Ripe enough is close enough.  Don’t give it out of guilt or obligation, but generosity. Make it a game to see how little fruit you can let fall to the ground, wasted.

Don’t do it because your Holy book says, “Love one another,” but because your heart says, “Love this one, another time, right now.”

At least that’s what I’m going to aim to do for now.  How about you?