I am a part of all that I have met. ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
Do you remember the 1996 Academy Awards when Cuba Gooding Jr. won Best Supporting Actor? It’s right here, thanks to the miracle of YouTube. I don’t remember if there was much backlash afterwards, regarding his enthusiasm; but I remember in the moment the whole world was excited about his excitement. It was contagious, listening to him humbly express love and gratitude for his wife, for those that had worked on the movie with him…and then, almost comically but sincerely, for everyone in the room, and then the whole world! All of humanity! “I love everyone!” he enthusiastically shouted.
I have frequently felt like that throughout this year. Minus two things, I suppose: First, I’m not being awarded anything, and second, I don’t even have a fraction of the love for Tom Cruise that Oscar-winner Cuba does. But for various reasons, I have felt a profound appreciation this year for the people in my life; from my family to my friends to acquaintances to people I don’t know who read this blog! Bless all of you! From family and friends who have showed up, un-summoned, at the precise moment they were needed with words of encouragement, acts of kindness, written sentiments, sanity-saving service, and the words “I love you.”
I did not grow up watching It’s a Wonderful Life. I was actually in college the first time I saw it. I watch it every year now, and each time, without fail, I have a lump in my throat the entire movie. From the opening scene when George Bailey’s friends and family are fervently praying on his behalf, to the end when loved ones are pouring into the Bailey home, freely pledging their love, friendship, and trust to save the life of their dear friend.
I love the way George instinctively sacrifices for the benefit of those he loves.
I love the way he stands by his convictions.
I love the way he is affectionate with his children and friends.
I love the way Mary reminds me of Katie; the way she assumes the best about him in spite of his occasional grumpiness, the way she works to make their lives wonderful.
I love the way a young Mary whispers, “George Bailey I’ll love you until the day I die.”
I love the themes of our lives being sources of good and light, for each other.
I love the oft-quoted lines, “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole,” and “Remember no man is a failure who has friends."
I never watch this movie without thinking of the individuals in my life who have affected me and influenced me for good. My conviction is that I have been blessed throughout my life with knowing some of the finest people on the planet. Beginning with my parents, the first people to hold me, and certainly including my favorite, the one who of her own free will decided that spending eternity with me would be a good idea. And of course the seven additional souls living in my home.
Siblings, in-laws, neighbors, loved ones, and friends. I am richly blessed, beyond anything I deserve, with friends who invite me in and share their lives with me, and likewise are interested in my own.
Maybe it’s the season, or per chance it’s a casualty of moving from one state and settling in another, but I've had the opportunity to readily and frequently express love over the past few months. Perhaps there are those that feel the phrase “I love you” should be used sparingly. Or only for family or maybe those we love romantically. Maybe some feel that to hear it used often makes it sound phony. Or that it’s uncomfortable. I don’t know. For me, I love to say it. It stirs up feelings of gratitude and comfort, of appreciation and compassion. It helps me be mindful that my actions, even my life, will provide the evidence of what I am saying. And I’m grateful for that.
I love everyone! I am so grateful for everybody! I wish I could specifically tell each of you why, and I gladly will if you ask! Please go watch It's a Wonderful Life and think of all those you have influenced! Including me! And please enjoy this clip below, from the movie Love Actually. It's usually available and heavily-edited on TBS this time of year. This is all you need to watch from this movie - the opening closing scenes - shots of random, non-actors at Heathrow Airport. Watch it here.