One of the songs I heard my mother sing when I was a kid was “Nature Boy” by Eden Ahbez. It was one of the pieces I cut my teeth on when I was learning to ‘fake’ music from chord charts. It has a haunting melody with simple, beautiful chords.  There’s one thing I just didn’t get.

The words.

I mean, the story made sense: There was a strange, enchanted boy who traveled the world. The narrator met him one day and they talked about everything, and then the boy said to him:

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return

Wait … that’s IT??

There was only one verse and yes, that was the sum total of the message.

As a kid that was such a let-down. Seriously??? The greatest thing I’m ever going to learn is something that simple???

Well, as it turns out, decades down the road, it’s not so simple.  And not so easy – whether I have a romantic partner in my life or not – and right now I don’t.

And that’s where we get to Valentine’s Day. I used to resent this day, regardless of the romantic state of my life.

I resented the commercialism, the sense of responsibility to ‘show’ my love -and guilt when I didn’t. I resented having to look like I appreciated cursory displays of love from others that felt awkward or required. Big red heart-shaped boxes were cool – but after all that chocolate I just felt sick. Flowers just seemed like a terrifying illustration of fading glory and all its inevitability.  I was a Valentine’s Day curmudgeon. The Scrooge of Valentine’s Day.

But now it’s different.

I can’t tell you how it changed.  But love no longer seems like something to have. Not something that requires a certain circumstance.

To love and be loved can happen in an instant. A thousand times a day. In tiny ways I didn’t even know were love. 

Romance is a choice, a way of seeing, a way of communicating and of listening.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be big.

It just has to be shared.

And that’s why I’m inviting you to “revisit” my living room for love songs. Last 2019,I went on Facebook LIVE and sang all the love songs I know, or at least until my voice gives out.

One way or another – let’s share a love song.

Maybe the greatest thing we’ll ever learn really is that simple.

Above: me singing Nature Boy in my studio:

This blog was previously published on Feb. 2, 2021.


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