I woke up with a though this morning about love. I sat down to write it as a poem, but quickly realized that my thoughts on it could not be boiled down in to something poetic. There were poetic elements, to be sure, but this was something deeper. I struggle with using the word epiphany. I may be overusing that word lately and don't want to diminish its significance, nor to I want to constrict this morning's awakening.
That's what it feels like it was. Like part of me had been asleep and woke up. This wasn't the blinding white light on the road to Damascus kind of awakening. It was more of a gentle nudge. Like when your dog comes over to your side of the bed and stands there. Then it realizes your eyes aren't open, so it gives you that gentle nudge letting you know it's time to wake up.
I am awake.
I can't promise that, at some point, I won't fall back asleep, but for the moment, I am awake.
All my life I have heard that if you love something (or someone) you have to let it (or them) go. If the love was meant to be, they'll return.
And that always bothered me.
If I loved someone, shouldn't that be enough? Shouldn't my love be strong enough to keep them? To help them see the love that was there. And to see the love they obviously felt for me (but may just not know it yet because I'm not expressing my love clearly enough)?
The short answer is no.
The dog nudging my face answer that hit me this morning was a little more involved.
The part of the popular treatise on love that always (and still to an extent) bothers me is the "let them go" clause.
In my young (compared to the universe) view of love, I had assumed that to let them go meant that I had to let go of the love I had for them. That I had to let that person go from my life. That I had to stop doing and saying the things to show them that I loved them. That in short, I needed to 'back the fuck off' and let them realize that maybe they did actually love me after all.
My dog nudge moment this morning led me to another place.
A realization of sorts.
The letting go is not of the person. It's not even of the love.
It's of my perception of what the love is. I have to let go of the box that I'm trying to contain the love in. Romantic love, sexual love/lust, platonic, agape love. Any of it. All of it.
I have to let that go.
Love cannot be put in to a box.
Love cannot be defined.
Love cannot be given or taken.
Love simply is.
Love is something we experience and we share.
How each of us shows and shares love is completely different. Some use words. Some use actions. Some quietly smile and offer you the last donut that they really wanted, but they love you and know that you want it to. Some love us in ways that are not and may not ever be readily apparent to us.
Sometimes a persons love for us doesn't match how we show love, so it seems that we are not loved by them.
I realize now that there is no such thing as unrequited love. That's a small, very focused, and quite frankly very selfish view of love. It says, "You're not feeling the same way I feel, so...you must not feel anything for me at all." It leads to bitterness. And it leads to losing, truly losing someone you love.
And how terrible is that?
Pretty fucking awful. When you put someone in that box of assuming that they don't care about you at all simply because their words and actions of affection don't match with yours, it's incredibly difficult to rebuild that bridge. Looking at my life and the people I have loved (and lost) over the years, I see that my immature view of love has led to losing some relationships that at one time meant everything to me. I don't know if there is any going back to that. Thinking that your love for someone is unrequited is a cancer. This isn't limited to romantic loves. Love is love. There is love in friendship. There is love in everything. If we are open to seeing what that loves looks like.
I know that some reading this might wonder how in the hell I got hold of some ecstasy so early in the morning, and why I've gone all hippy on you. Wonder away. If this is what taking that drug feels like, I can see the attraction. I'm stone cold sober right now, but am on a high. A love high. And the truth is, I firmly believe that this is the key.
Love is the key.
And I've been looking at it all wrong. For all these years.
The letting go means that I need to let go of what I think love looks like and look at the love that is actually in my life. I need to meet and experience and be thankful for the love that is in my life.
There are no clauses.
There are no "someday she may love me as much as I love her"s.
None of that is real. That puts love in a container that can never hold it. Ever. And it guarantees that you will never find the love you think you are looking for.
Love can't be found.
Because love is never absent.
Love is never missing.
Love is ever-present.
Right now, as I sit here, I am thinking of all of the people in my life. And there are those that I am especially close to that make my heart sing. I smile when I think of them.
In this moment, I know that I am loving and I am loved.
There is no condition or label that can be put on that love.
I realized this morning that I have been doing love a disservice by thinking of it as a GPS for my heart. "Hey Siri, launch the Love App and show me where my next romance is..."
I'm not looking for love.
Love is here, in my life. In my friendships. In the hearts of the people that are in my life right now.
And like the dog gently nudging me to wake up, it is waiting for me to rub the sleep from my eyes, get out of bed and come out and play.
Let love be.
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