If you love…

I had an ocean-wide crush on Julie Andrews when I was a boy and it was all for naught. You don’t get to choose who you fall in love with and, sadly dammit,  you don’t get to choose who falls in love with you. You do, however, get to choose how you respond to either reality. When two people realize they have  fallen in love with each other, the choices are relatively clear, if they are honest.

When one person falls in love with someone who has not responded in kind, the choices are again relatively clear, if honesty is the guide, though not always easy. But, perhaps, easier, though not pain free, if the love you feel is in fact, genuine. You cannot and and should not look to impose your will, to manipulate the other person into feeling the same way you do. The results of such an effort are never healthy. This last is not my instinct in the least.  I want and deserve to know someone loves me freely and truly.  Period. End of story.

There is another element to love, real love, as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t seem to get the notice it deserves. Kindness. I don’t know how on earth you can love anyone without kindness being present. You don’t have to abandon loyalty to self to be kind. And, part of kindness, part of being kind, is supporting the other person’s right to be who they are safely and happily in life, regardless of your specific role in the person’s life.

The task is to find a way to love the person that is healthy for them and for you. There are times when the healthiest choice is to disengage from them. However, there are times when loving human connections find ways of flourishing, if they are given honest emotional soil from which to grow. Love can cause many beautiful relationships to bloom into beautiful “flowers.” Any angst you may feel at not always being able to choose the “flower” fades over time, if you really loved the person in the first place.



The Courage to Love

Maybe I am a foolish dreamer but I believe love – real love – is very likely the greatest gift life offers us. I think if you are afforded the possibility of real romantic love you are, well, a fool if you allow things like a single tattoo (which I don’t have) or facial hair (which I do have) to be deal breakers. You are equally foolish if you let the size of a woman’s breasts or the length of her legs guide your decision making.

It seems to me many have a plethora of reasons, some conscious, some not so conscious, for avoiding real love. What is his or her schooling? Have they been to college? What did his or her parents do for a living? She or he has a child already? He or she has been married before? She or he is five feet tall? Six feet tall?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the human species is ineffably gifted at coming up with reasons to avoid real love. I remember many years ago going out with a woman for a brief time. We liked each other and all was going well and one evening over dinner she said, I’ve been meaning to ask, what sign are you? Not seeing the bear trap on the ground in front of me, I said, Libra. A look of unutterable horror came over her face. Oh Peter, she said, in a tone so troubled you’d have thought every one she knew just died, We don’t get along. Instantly realizing I was facing a mountain that called for oxygen tanks to summit, I said, What the hell we been doing up to now? She shook her head, put her fork down on the table and said, I should go. I agreed. She left. I finished my meal.

Now I know there are underlying reasons for why we run from or avoid the possibility of love. Nearly always these reasons are found in the soil of our histories. We’ve been wounded before, we’ve been betrayed before. We’ve turned our hearts loose before only to have them gutted. In some instances we were raised in ways that taught us we weren’t much worth loving. So, if you find yourself falling in love, or faced with the possibility of falling in love and being loved, just think, if you run, your history wins – again. Your history does not deserve that kind of decision making power. You do.

If You Need Me

If you need me, I’ll be there, with kind arms waiting, no furrowed brow for you.

Daylight comes and daylight goes, dreams seem to do the same, but I tell you

If you need me, I’ll be there, bringing you a cup of tea sweetened with a smile

From me because you are you and that’s all you need to be

If you need me, I’ll be there.  In coming storms or in the thick of pain, during times

Of hunger and lost hopes and lives, I’ll be there, in your dreams, in your heart always

If you need me, I’ll be there, in the song of the morning birds, the early day sun glowing

Warmth into your heart, because I love you, you know that, I am there, you can hug me

If you need me, I’ll be there, in the quiet and in the loud, in the darkness and in the light

In the rhythm of your footsteps in the morning and in the night I am there always

If you need me, I’ll be there, because you are you and that’s all you need to be

In life and past it, I’ll be there, loving you, always, because you are you and I am me

Relationship Jail Cells

Many years ago I wrote a script that went nowhere called It Was Your Heart I Wanted. The story was about a woman confronted with the possibility of entering a relationship but found herself fearfully hesitant because her last relationship had been such a brutal one. An all too common reason for hesitancy many have when facing the possibility of new love. And so, in a very real way, they are trapped in the jail cells of prior relationships. I called the piece It Was Your Heart I Wanted because I do believe most of us can say that and mean that when we enter into a relationship.

But there is another kind of relationship jail cell. The relationship we are are already in, we know are not happy, and yet we stay in them anyway. The love may be gone, if it was ever there, and the environment is toxic, but we stay. Blessedly, I am not in this situation and after nearly seven years of sobriety would disengage from a situation like this were I in one. But, believe me, I’ve been in toxic relationship jail cells before.

I know a few people who are in them now.

I know one extraordinary person who is an American History buff. I mean this is someone who really knows and loves American History. But their spouse stops them from any involvement with history clubs or other people who love history. I know another person who is in a relationship with someone they like but don’t love but figures the person is good to the kids so why not.

I level no harsh judgment towards anyone who is trapped by their history in a way that stops them from daring to love and daring to be loved. What I will say is this. All of us have the right to love and be loved, and no one’s history deserves so much say it stops them from experiencing the heart-and-soul wonder of a relationship that works gloriously, and believe me, there are relationships like this in the world. I know people who are in them.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll take the risk of loving and being loved. My history be damned. If the possibility of a deep-in-the-heart relationship is there, I don’t want to miss it, at least not because of my history.


Remember to say I love you to those you love. I don’t know what it is about those three often maligned and misused words, I love you, that makes them as special as they are, but I do believe that when they are meant, they should be said. Not only to the many who deserve to hear it, but by the many who deserve to say it.

My friend Frank died at 7:35 yesterday morning with the two he loved and who loved him the most by his side. Like many others, I loved Frank. And whenever I’d say, Love you Frank, he’d smile at me and say, Love you brother. And I knew he meant it. I can still hear his voice saying those words to me, Love you brother. He meant them too, all three of them.

The words I love you are remarkably hard for some of us to say. For still others, they are difficult to hear. Still others avoid the phrase because it is has been used as a tool for manipulation and, in some cases, cruel manipulation, in too many scenarios.

However, I think the only necessary guideline for saying it is honesty. Say it if you mean it. Your history, those who betrayed you, used the phrase to manipulate you in one way or another, denied your ever hearing the phrase, none of these people deserve so much control over you today that they stop you from saying it at all.

A woman I love very much said to me recently, “Peter, you love everybody.” Not true. Not by a long shot. Rest assured, there are people I don’t love and there I even people I dislike, some intensely. But what I do believe in is letting those you feel love for know it. While there is certainly such as thing as too much hate in the world, there is no such thing as too much love. However, there is such a thing as not enough love – and not enough expression of the love that is there.

The first game the Yankees played after Yankee captain Thurmon Munson’s tragic death in 1979 was in Yankee Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles catcher was Rick Dempsey, a former Yankee and back-up catcher for Munson. The Yankee manager was Billy Martin. Dempsey sent a note to Martin in the Yankee clubhouse before the game. In it he told Martin that he, like so many others, loved Thurman and he, like so many of us, did not always remember to tell people he loved that he loved them. And so, in this note, he told Martin that he loved him.

And so if you love people in your life, whether you love them as friends or more, tell them. Use the words I love you – all three of them. I would ask the few of you who might feel saying I love you is a wimpy thing to do why saying it is so hard for you to do? Were it an act of weakness, to say them, it ought to be easy, no?

Take care of yourselves in life. Love each other as best you can. And when you do, say so.

I am going to miss you terribly, Frank.

Love you brother.