OPINION: Love doesn't need an upgrade
While shopping recently, my wife and I came across a stuffed cat, exactly like our youngest daughter’s Fuzzy Kitty.
Well, kind of like Fuzzy Kitty.
It actually looked exactly like Fuzzy Kitty had 10 years ago, when she belonged to our oldest daughter, Sophia. Brand new, pink, clean, soft, two-eyes…
Over those 10 years, Fuzzy Kitty has been through a lot.
Fuzzy Kitty has been there for birthdays, tea parties, picnics, and all kinds of games.
She’s been through more than a few bounce houses, trampolines, a couple of swimming pools.
She was passed on to our second daughter, Maya, and has been through nap times and sleepovers.
She’s comforted each of our daughters through sickness, fevers, dark nights, scrapes and bruises.
Eventually, she was passed down to Maggie, who is now five. Maggie’s current favorite game is throwing her at the ceiling fan (not spinning, of course) to see if she’ll land on one of the blades.
Also of course, the only way to get her off the fan blade is to turn on the fan. Fuzzy Kitty has seen better days.
She’s got stitches, scars, and what can generously be called bald patches. She’s missing her eyes, which sounds creepy, but nobody seems to mind. We’ve often considered boxing her up, but she’s still in pretty strong toy rotation.
So, when we saw a brand new Fuzzy Kitty, we immediately grabbed it! Proudly, we presented Maggie with the new Fuzzy Kitty, and (as I’m sure you’ve all figured out by now) she immediately shouted “NO!” and squeezed Fuzzy Kitty so tightly that I thought she would split her seams.
We enthusiastically explained that new Fuzzy Kitty was better than… as good as… acceptable… stop crying…?
How did we not see this coming? We felt like rookies.
As I sit here writing this with MY brand new Fuzzy Kitty doll, my daughter is in her bed, snuggling with hers, the original. It’s easy now to see how we got lured in by the bright, shiny new thing. We fell into the “newer is better” trap.
We live in a society where an iPhone 5 is considered “old.”
We live in a society where we have to binge watch shows so that we can be ready to binge watch the next season when it comes out.
We live in a society where we consume so fast that nothing is allowed to grow old, and that doesn’t just apply to technology.
But, it’s not just that we live in this society; we’re creating this society.
We’re updating automatically, we’re logging in at midnight to upgrade, and we’re selling our old phones for cash.
Meanwhile, the truth is being squeezed desperately in a little girl’s arms.
The truth is that love is not bright, shiny, and new, at least not for long.
Love takes a beating and carries scars.
Love has to endure the hardest parts of our lives and it has to last as long as possible.
Love is not about upgrades, it’s about sustained relationships.
Love is about holding on to those we love, our friends, our families, our tribe.
It’s about squeezing tight so they know that we won’t ever give them up.
It’s about spending one more year with our Fuzzy Kitties, not because they’ll last forever, but because they might be gone tomorrow.
We can spend our time chasing the latest, greatest version of whatever we think will make us happy, but the truth is that love is usually already within our reach.
It’s sitting next to us on the couch; it’s cuddling with us; it’s comforting us when we’re sick, and it’s patiently putting up with our crazy games. I foolishly thought I could replace Fuzzy Kitty, but even my five-year-old is smart enough to know that Love isn’t about replacement; it’s about being with the ones you love.
It’s about holding on tight and never letting go, no matter what the world tries to tell you.
Manuel Alvear is many things – among them a Texan, a father, and a longtime journalist. If you want him, you can find him – on the opinion page of the Burleson Star.