1. Make a decision.
Look, this list works from four principles, crafted from four gerunds: making, giving, doing, saying. That is the order of things, too. Making is first.
First thing: make a decision. For instance, decide: you are not afraid (not afraid to pick out flowers, or to say what you think). Decide: you are not worried about yourself (and what you might or might not get from this endeavor). Decide: you don’t deserve anything from love, so you expect nothing. (This, friends, is power.) This allows you to walk the earth without giving up everything to a cultural concept currently defined by the characters sometimes played by Zach Braff, and consistently played by Kathryn Heigl, actors inhabiting characters who at the end of Act Two are crushed when love itself seems indifferent to their hard-won sense of romantic entitlement. It connotes confidence, makes every kindness a tacit invitation. Quid pro quo is best reserved for heavy petting, and shouldn’t translate to matters of the heart.
So make a decision that recognizes that the only thing you can control is your own behavior.
2. Make food.
When I first got divorced, a friend of mine gave me a tip on how to feed my kids on a work night. It was a very good tip about frozen skillet meals, which he sometimes made for his twin daughters when their mom was away. It seemed right and kind for him to look out for me in this way. It was so easy; I didn’t even have to think about cooking. But the third time I served it, my younger son, Walter, eight at the time, balked. “It tastes like a freezer,” he said. “It tastes like yesterday.” I was a little miffed that he wasn’t eating it, and I’m certain that I showed a flash of frustration. It hurts me to report that he started crying, probably scared by his hulking desperate prick of a father, who got pissed because he, the kid, was too smart to accept a plate of flash-frozen chicken penne. “Is this what you made for Mom?” he asked. “Is this why she doesn’t love you?”