October 26, 2003
Tonight at dinner, a friend mentioned a Miss Universe contestant who was asked the question: What would you do if you only had 24 hours to live? The unfortunate girl replied, “I’d EAT!”
The question made me realize that if I only had 24 hours to live, I would spend that time letting people know what they mean to me—I would want to express my complete feelings without holding back. My own response saddens me—to realize that I go through life without letting people know how much they mean to me. There is never a right moment, except for that very last one, when you know you may never see someone again. Then it is the right time to express deep feelings. If you just come out of the blue, people are taken aback.
I realize also that the range of sentiment in human interaction and communication is very limited. For example, it is almost impossible for me to say to my friends that I love them. This is what I feel, but it is not socially appropriate and could easily be mis-interpreted as a base feeling when in fact it is very profound and related to the joy and appreciation I have for everyone who is part of this experience that means so much to me. Why do we only say I love you to family members and romantic partners? Part of the problem is with me not knowing how to put my feelings into words. They are not cut and dry generics—love, admiration, respect. They are subtle and circumstantial.
If the Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow, they must have also realized that one needs hundreds of words for love. Every love is different and I don’t know where to begin to explain myself. Would I be able to pull the words together fast enough if I only had 24 hours? What would I say to Peter, for example, the boy next door? I love your back flips, your Michael Jackson dance, your mango joy, your “short but strong,” your patience and maturity and the way you care for your little brothers. There will come a time when I only have 24 hours to live. Will I have said all I want to say?