The Love Issue: Celebrating all of the passion around us

Sometimes, love gets a bad rap. It’s been called fickle, flighty, frothy and fleeting, something that tends to fade in a world of grim realities and absolutes. We’re told that we fall in love, akin to stumbling into a ditch or stepping off a cliff.

But here at Jmore, we believe that love is indeed eternal and never goes out of fashion, and we subscribe to the notion put forth by the title of that old movie and tune, “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.”

Romantic love, while being wonderful and enthralling, is only but one form of the L-word. Passion and affection transcend the concept of two individuals with deep or amorous feelings for each other. It extends to love for other themes, concepts and interests, such as music, cars or animals.

In this “Love Issue,” we offer five examples of people who have a love and passion for a few of their favorite things. We sincerely hope you love it! — JMORE STAFF

When I was 11, my friend Laurie and I used to hang out a lot at the Reisterstown Road Plaza. One day, a local TV station set up a small stage and microphone in front of a camera, inviting people to talk about anything on their mind.

I stepped up. People don’t need to wear fur, I said. Mentioning metal traps, I implored the audience to stay warm without hurting animals.

When I stepped down from the stage, a few adults agreed with me. Maybe they found my middle school advocacy inspiring — or amusing. I don’t know if my segment ever aired, but I’ve never forgotten it.

Decades later, what still remains is my absolute love of animals. I’ve owned cats for a lifetime, including our current orange tabby rescues, Lucy and Ricky. I’ve donated, supported and promoted the cause of animal rights and welfare. And no, I’ve never worn fur.

A few years ago, at my daughter’s urging, I began thinking about my diet. If I loved animals, why was I eating them? I learned the path that a cow takes to becoming steak. I found out about a chicken’s life before being shrink-wrapped. It wasn’t pretty, and it sure wasn’t appetizing. I read about the environmental damage of animal agriculture.

I stopped eating meat, then chicken. In time, I added fish and dairy to my list.

I’m not a perfect vegan. I have one vice: whitefish (oy!). Still, with that one exception, I choose plants.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, although it was easy for me to ‘like’ animal-related posts, watch cat videos and comment on yet another case of animal abuse, I wanted to do something more. In December, I started volunteering at the Baltimore Humane Society in Reisterstown.

Now, I love cuddling the cats and getting to know the dogs. I’m happy to clean cat condos. I’ve taken training sessions — cat socialization, “Dogtown” I and II. Soon, I’ll learn about rabbits, guinea pigs and rats.

I’ve cried happy tears with people who are taking home their new furry family members, ready to begin a new life together. I was there the day after Princess Diana, a sweet dog who spent months at the shelter, went home in a flurry of celebration. She was a staff favorite. They are all staff favorites.

When I volunteer at BHS, I see the best in people — from the fiercely dedicated staff and caring volunteers to adopters who open their hearts. I’m part of a solution for a cause I love. And just like when I choose plants over animals, I’m doing what I believe in to help an animal or two.

I’d like to think my 11-year-old self would approve.

Liz Schuman is a Baltimore- based freelance writer.

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