When LOVE was suggested as our summer theme, I jumped on it. I planned to write an inspiring intro that would bring the whole valley together in shared appreciation for how blessed we are to live here. I would remind every reader that our time on earth is short, we are more similar than we are different, kindness goes a long way, and we need to take care of each other and the planet.
Then I got really busy. It feels like I’ve hardly seen the people I love in months. Inspiration has been in short supply. And who do I think I am, trying to say something new and original about love, anyway? Surely, it’s all been said.
But I’d known right away what the title of this piece was going to be, and every time I thought about writing it, I’d hear Burt Bacharach’s warm, comforting voice in my head:
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
This song reminds me—like it reminds anyone who ever saw Austin Powers—of the scene where Bacharach’s playing piano and serenading Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley as they all roll through Las Vegas at night atop a double-decker bus.
But it also brings me back to being a little kid, when my dad would play the organ in our living room and sing Bacharach songs to my mum. (“Close to You” was another favourite.) I can’t fully describe the feeling this memory gives me. It’s partly a retroactive joy. It’s partly a delight that my parents felt this way about each other—and still seem to, even after 55+ years of marriage. And it’s partly a powerful nostalgia for a time when everything seemed uncomplicated.
Of course, life is complicated, and nobody gets a smooth ride the whole way through; I’m lucky that my childhood felt secure. But it seems to me that we’ve all had to handle a lot of extra challenges in the past few years. Everyone’s a little overstretched and raw.
We’re sick. We’re rushed. We’re angry about X, Y, or Z (or maybe all three). Every store and restaurant is short-staffed and out of something we need. There aren’t enough health-care professionals. Or child-care professionals. The price of everything is going up.
Hell, yeah, the world needs love, sweet love. So this issue is coming out just at the right time. It’s our biggest issue ever, and it’s filled with stories that radiate with people’s love for their families, themselves, and even complete strangers. Settle in, with a beverage and far from your phone, and dive in.