I stretched by back and started two lists. What does it mean to love a person? What does it mean to love a place? Before long, I discovered I had made two copies of the same list. To love—a person and a place—means at least this:
One. To want to be near it, physically.
Number two. To want to know everything about it—its story, its moods, what it looks like by moonlight.
Number three. To rejoice in the fact of it.
Number four. To fear its loss, and grieve for its injuries.
Five. To protect it—fiercely, mindlessly, futile, and maybe tragically, but to be helpless to do otherwise.
Six. To be transformed in its presence—lifted, lighter on your feet, transparent, open to everything beautiful and new.
Number seven. To want to be joined with it, taken in by it, lost in it.
Number eight. To want the best for it.
Number nine. Desperately.
I knew there was something important missing from my list, but I was struggling to put it into words. Loving isn't just a state of being, it's a way of acting in the world. Love isn't a sort of bliss, it's a kind of work, sometimes hard, spirit-testing work. To love a person is to accept the responsibility to act lovingly toward them, to make their needs your own needs. To love a place is to care for it, to keep it healthy, to attend to its needs as if they were your own, because they are your own. Responsibility grows from love. It is the natural shape of caring.
-Kathleen Dean Moore, The Pine Island Paradox