I am not one for striking up conversations on airplanes, but my brother is. He was maybe 22, he told me this past weekend we spent together, and this older man sat beside him. A simple conversation began. As the man spoke, Michael sensed that he was somehow successful, even wise. So he asked the man what advice he might offer a 22 year-old.
Fifty-one years later Michael recalled the words as if yesterday: “Fall in love with someone or something every day.”
That sounds naive, of course. When we are trained to see life as a war, lovers will seem as silly as Quixote. When rising stress levels equate to higher social status, no one will have time to notice beauty or grace. A smile will not entice, a leaf will not allure. When we are all desperately climbing, falling will not be an option. And when love is increasingly ordered as in a manual, each succeeding step of intimacy negotiated by inner lawyers, page 57 will be blank of passion.
Which is to say, falling in love is nothing we should expect help doing. If we are to “Fall in love with someone or something every day,” we will have to claim the authority to do so, steal the time and waste it fully, learn to respectfully transgress boundaries, and care a lot less about how we look to others.
Youth are expected to fall in love. It’s cute. After that, we are expected to get serious. Fair enough. There will be more than enough time today to be dead serious. And time, if we steal it, to trip on someone or something and fall.