Written by Taylor Palmby
Photo: Sarah Davison
“If love is a labor, I’ll slave ‘til the end” are the words I tattooed on my bicep this weekend.
For me, they hold many meanings and are an integral part of who I am today. I’ve always felt that my purpose on this earth was to spread love. I love fiercely and have my heart permanently stitched on my sleeve. I never seem to take the necessary precautions to protect myself from heartbreak, but I always seem to remain hopeful about the innate goodness of my future and those around me. I try to live my life by these words through small and large acts, because I believe love is the only thing that can heal this broken world.
These words were first shown to me by the most loving boy I’ve ever met. His name was Will, and he loved people passionately and without judgement. He gave everything he had to those he cared about, and was furiously loyal. Will sang me these words from Swing Life Away, every time tears welled up in my eyes. He sang them to me over the phone anytime there was a lull in conversation. He sang them to me during band practice in between our horrid attempts at writing something even half as eloquent. For all of the times I’ve heard Will singing these words, the most memorable, is the time his voice was absent from the chorus. The day I sang these words at his funeral.
Will died by suicide almost three years ago, and it wasn’t until that day I truly realized how much his love shaped me.
He was a friend, when I had so few in high school, he clung to music in the same desperate way I did, and he listened to my incessant teenage ramblings for hours every night on the phone. Since Will’s death, I’ve tried to spread love in a way that would make him proud. I try to be kind in a way that goes beyond “hi, how are you”. I try to listen intently, and pause to care for people instead of rushing through my daily routine. I do this not only because I know that’s what Will would want me to do, and because it’s a small thing I can do to allow his love legacy to live on, but also because I often wonder what would have happened to Will if I and the rest of the world would have loved him a little harder.
I never want to have this feeling of ‘what if’ be present in my life ever again, and because of this I will try my best to love with fierce determination. Love alone may not be able to cure mental illness, but it can lessen the pain. Love is one thing each and everyone of us can offer the other humans that walk this earth.
These are a few simple ways you can spread love, if everyone did one of these things a day I can’t even imagine how beautiful the future would be.
1. Write someone a handwritten note.
2. Bring a friend their favorite treat for a bad day.
3. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
4. Send a text that reads “Thinking of you, hope you’re having a great day”
5. Make a friend a playlist
6. Check in with a friend about a problem they mentioned to you, just to see how they are doing and if they found a solution.
7. Send flowers.
8. Ask an old friend to coffee or lunch.
9. Smile at a stranger on the street.
10. Compliment someone on a non-physical attribute.
11. Send someone a Thank You Note
12. Make a friend a playlist
13. Ask someone you don’t see often to go for a walk, visit a museum or study.
14. Send a friend a random appreciation post.
15. Give a co-worker or team member a shout-out during a meeting.
17. Visit a nursing home.
18. Bring a friend coffee to class.
19. Strike up conversation with a new classmate or coworker.
20. Share your own struggles, so others know they are not alone
Let us all think of love as a labor we must bare.