Dear Bendigo: Love on (the) line

A RECENT radio news report told of the most searched for things online this year. Topping the overall list was Gangnam Style, most searched for celebrity was Whitney Houston, but what floored me was the most googled piece of advice.

During 2012 the thing people asked most of the great world wide web was, how do I love. 

That’s enough to break a heart, isn’t it.

Why would people turn to the net for an answer, why wouldn’t they turn to the people around them? The people within hugging distance.

I mentioned this to one of my wisest friends – who happens to be a nurse – and she said there are many people in our own community who don’t know how to deal with love. 

Or its aftermath. 

She said our psychiatric wards are full of the broken-hearted.

Did you know there’s a hospital for such people in Germany? 

A hospital for the broken-hearted, where love sick people can learn to live whole again.

The free clinic in the Schwabing Hospital is aimed primarily at love-sick teenagers who do not know how to cope with a broken heart.

I think we all know how to love – that’s part of being human – but perhaps we sometimes need a little help in knowing what to do with it.

For me, this year has been a lesson in love. 

I’ve had some very dear friends, perhaps unknowingly, chip, chip, chip away at my sometimes stubborn, self-protective shell. 

I hope they know who they are.

Through simple kindness and generosity of spirit and lovely words and cups of tea and homemade cake and the odd apple and berry crumble from the Old Green Bean cafe, they have softened my default setting of being reserved and allowed me to express my love for them. That’s a hard thing for me to do outside of my own family, but I’m learning. 

And for that I’m very thankful.

Of course a side-effect of all of this loving is the burn marks. 

Get too close to the flames of love and they will leave a mark. 

Whether that’s through seeing my friends suffer, seeing them cry, seeing their dreams halted or diverted.  Sometimes it’s in seeing them off to greener pastures across seas.

There are friends I will soon miss so much.

The pay-off? I get to wear the scars with absolute pride and privilege.

I wish you love this Christmas.

Dear Bendigo will return on January 5, 2013.

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