Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.
Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

It’s love that makes the world go ’round.

Jesus, prophet of peace, taught us to love our neighbors. Gandhi warned that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. And Mother Teresa sought out the poorest of the poor so that no one was left uncared for.

It’s love that helps single mothers raise their children on their own, and love that sustains rescue workers pulling survivors from the rubble of national disasters. Love, in its most unadulterated form, is capable of wonderful things, and can bring the greatest peace and happiness a person can know.

I don’t want to waste time complaining that love has been misconstrued, manipulated, tainted and stained. Because we all know it has. And we all know that is not love.

Love drives us to be our best selves. Love binds us to our family and friends, to our gods and even our enemies. Love holds this world together, and it is the misinterpretation of love that tears it apart.

Acts of love don’t have to be grand. The beauty of the feeling is that it is beyond material goods. It’s beyond words.

Love, I think, is best when it’s small and subtle, flying under the radar yet with the profound effect of a breeze causing a whole forest to shudder.

My suggestions take little to no effort, bring you out of your self-absorbed shell (trust me, I’m in one too), and will make you feel good, happy and whole.

Hug a tree, hug a friend, call your mom and wish a stranger good morning. Resurrect chivalry. Carry groceries for a lonely old lady. Hold back the sneer and give your leftovers to a bum. Be kind to the waitress who spills soup on your slacks.

Get off your cell phone when ordering from a counter. Say thank you. Pick up the hitchhiker stranded in the rain.

Above all, remember to love yourself. Sleep. Smile. Laugh. Eat fruits and vegetables. Walk in the woods. Stop on the bridge between Hahn and McHenry and look at the sunlight drizzling through the leaves.

We all need a little kindness right now. Times are tough for everyone, and who knows when they’ll get easier. I can barely afford rent every month and haven’t been able to pay my registration fees, so the bus driver who lets me ride for free sans winter sticker literally makes my day.

There are things to love all around us, every day at every moment. Our lives are precious because one day we’ll be gone, so love what you can while you can.

The smallest act of kindness can mean the greatest act of love. Know that what you do, whether positive or negative, effects everyone. If it’s done with love, then it might just make the world go ’round.