Friday, January 1, 2010

Love's the Only Thing

"Tell me what the hell are you scared of, in the end the only thing is love, in the end, love's the only thing."

- Maritri

I've been thinking about love a lot lately. A whole lot. I think I'm redefining my ideas about love. I think I'm reshaping how I love. I think I'm discovering what love really is. It's a little scary. It's very exciting.

I have always been one to love easily and completely. I pretty much believe in love at first sight because I pretty much fall in love instantly. I mean, I don't generally proclaim it love, even to myself - but that's what it is. I know the instant I meet someone whether or not I will fall in love with them. I have almost never fallen in love with someone without knowing that I would within the first day of meeting them.

I have been thinking, too, about this distinction of Love and In Love. In Love seems to be reserved for romantic love and is generally believed to be more intense, more valid, more encompassing than Love. "I LOVE you, I'm just not IN LOVE with you anymore" I've said those words - though I'm not sure I've heard them. Well, I've heard them, but I don't think I've heard them said to me.

But, I wonder, if there's a difference between Love and In Love. I also find myself wondering if In Love is love at all. Slowly, I'm coming to believe that love is just love. There is no In Love. There are no degrees of love. Either you love or you don't. But to love is amazingly easy and empowering and wonderful - so why wouldn't people choose to love?

So often we hold love in reserve. We are afraid to love. Afraid that to love someone makes us vulnerable to that person, puts us in danger of being hurt by them. Suddenly I've begun to wonder why that is. Why is love a risk? Why is the act of loving dangerous? Why do we fear love?

Again, it seems that love should be empowering. Love is the purest, most intense and positive emotion there is. It should bring happiness. It should bring strength. It should bring protection from all that is hurtful. Love shouldn't make us weak or fearful. It should make us strong and brave.

I think about Saint Aunt. The love she has for her family - the love that circles back to her from us - I believe that love is keeping her alive. I think that without that love and the strength she gains from it, her body would have succumbed to the first heart attack.

Why would anyone fear an emotion that carries that kind of power - that can keep a literally, physically, broken heart beating?

And yet we all seem to fear love. We hold ourselves back, reserve our feelings, set up conditions that must be met before we can let ourselves experience this amazing emotion. We build walls and gates and hardened shells around our hearts to make sure love can't get in. And we fear that love comes, not gently not with the ability to heal, but that it will storm in with a sword and tear us to shreds.

Love? Shreds? Ripping, rendering, breaking? Love?

I am beginning to doubt that it's love that does the damage we fear. Love is just too pure, too good, too filled with the ability to heal and to generate more of what's good and positive. This amazing emotion can not, reasonably, be the source of pain.

So what is the source? I've thought and thought and thought about it, and there is only one thing I keep coming back to...Expectations.

Too often we put conditions on our love. We have parameters that we believe our love must exist within. We don't want to love people unless they will love us back, or treat us a certain way, or make promises to us. But what would happen if we allowed ourselves to love without restriction?

What if we just let ourselves love without care for how the people we loved reacted to that love or treated us? What if our love was truly unconditional?

The greatest, purest, most powerful love I have felt is for my children. I can't think of a love that is more unconditional than that. I loved them both, sight unseen. I opened my heart to them and they caused my heart to grow before I ever set my eyes on them or held them in my arms.

Think about choosing to love someone you've never met, never seen, don't know one thing about. And imagine realizing that love will last for your entire life - no matter what! That nothing this unseen, unmet, person can ever say or do will EVER make you stop loving them. That seems SO amazing - and yet we are capable of that kind of love parents are flooded with it for their children every single moment of every day. And compared to that - love at first sight seems...well a little late.

I mean it's begun to occur to me that if I can love my children like that, why can't I just love...everyone? Could it be possible to accept that everyone is worthy of my love? OK, that's a little more of a leap than I'm ready for. Philosophically, I'm there. Intellectually, I get it...but in real life - I don't think I'm that evolved yet. I still have to get past the whole thing that there are people who I just don't like at first sight.

But I think I am at place, of a frame of mind, where I can choose to not hold myself in reserve, hiding from, fearful of, love. When I really look at it, I just can't find a single reason to be afraid of love. I can't see how it would be harmful to me in anyway to just love the people who I am inclined to feel this wonderful emotion for.

And I think it doesn't take a lot to love people. I mean, there are people who I think of in my life who I don't see very often, or even know very well - yet I feel a connection to them. Normally I would say I don't love these people - that love is something that can only be felt for people you know really well or speak to regularly. I think in the past that I've feared that it would trivialize love to express it for someone who I wasn't extremely close to. Yet I can think of many, many, many people whose existence makes my life better, whose presence, no matter how brief or superficial, makes me happier. When I think of all the people I feel good, I mean really really good, just being in their presence - or even just thinking about them - well, I believe I love these people. And why shouldn't I? Why must there be conditions on love?

Getting back to conditions and expectations - I think these are the things that cause pain. We've associated so many conditions and expectations with love, that I think we've begun to mistake them FOR love.

We have expectations of ourselves as well as the people we love. We believe that we have to behave a certain way if we love someone and we want them to behave that way towards us as well. Love is supposed to make us selfless - makes us put the one we love ahead of ourselves. Make us want to do anything for that person. And of course we want to be loved that way in return. We say things like, "I do so much for him and he won't even do x for me," or "If she really loved me she'd..." or a thousand other similar phrases. And when the ones we love don't behave the way we wan them to we are hurt, and when they consistently behave against our expectations we are heart broken and stop loving them. We swear we will protect our hearts against this kind of person and we hold ourselves in reserve again until we believe that we have met someone who will meet our expectations, someone who can live up to the conditions of love.

I'm eliminating expectations and conditions from my love. I want to love the way I do with my children, the way I do Saint Aunt. I want to love without expecting anything from the other person. I want to just love because the loving itself - the very emotion is one that is good for me. I want to love because there is something in the person that inspires that emotion and I want to appreciate and enjoy that without wanting or expecting them to be or do anything. I want to love the people in my life as they are. I want to love without concern for whether or not that love is reciprocal. Because really why should I limit my emotions based on the limitations of someone else's emotions? That just seems silly.

So my resolution for this year is that I will love. I will love without hesitation. I will love without limitation. I will love without expectation. I will love without condition. I will love purely and completely and with all my heart. I will not question my love. I will accept the love I feel and I will accept the love that comes to me from others. And most importantly - I will love myself as openly and completely and freely and without reserve or hesitation or condition as I do for others.

2010 will be my year of love. And if love is as powerful and healing as I think it is, I know I will find myself a better, happier, stronger, more whole person for having allowed myself to love.

1 comment:

maritri said...

thanks for using my quote! i am honored. love is indeed love. and when you give it wholeheartedly and unafraid, it is amazing. people give what they can so you can't give love according to what you might get back. i love you and am so grateful for your presence in my life!