I Love You

Many years ago, comedian Bill Cosby did a series of commercials for the Peace Corps. In one of them he began by saying something like:

“Remember when your mother used to say, ‘Don’t forget your rain coat,’ or, ‘Don’t go out without your galoshes.’ You probably thought she was nagging you, but she was really just trying to say ‘I love you’ without getting caught.”

He goes on to talk about the Peace Corps and at the very end of the spot he says, “So if you want to say ‘I love you’ without getting caught, join the Peace Corps.” That line, that idea of saying “I love you” without getting caught got my attention and has fascinated me ever since.

What I have learned is that people really do have difficulty sometimes getting the words out. For whatever reason, they just can’t bring themselves to say “I love you” right out loud. But they still feel it, and that feeling demands expression. So they try to find ways to say “I love you” without getting caught. Since most of us can’t join the Peace Corps, we have to find our own ways. And we do.

But every now and then we are given a “free pass.” Someone creates a space where saying “I love you” right out loud is not only okay, but preferred. That is precisely what happened on Twitter yesterday, and it caught on like wildfire. People from around the globe jumped on the bandwagon. In fact, you could hardly shut them up (not that anyone was trying to). And many felt a need to say thank you, and express their appreciation for the way it felt to be part of a veritable orgy of love for a day. I among them.

So thanks to Staci Shelton (@StaciJShelton) for allegedly starting the ball rolling down the hill, and to all the other tweeters who kept it rolling hour after hour. It was a consummation devoutly to be wished, and a wish that came profoundly true. And this planet is the better for it, none more so than we who participated.

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