The answer to the question ‘What is Love?’ has not come naturally to me. In fact it’s a question I’ve been asking my whole life. In grade 3 on a sunny day waiting with my friends to be picked up from school I asked “How do you know you love your parents?” They responded with confusion. “Of course, you love them, they’re your parents”
But what if they weren’t them? If I would love any parents I happened to have been assigned then what did it mean to love these ones? Questions like these have followed me through to this day.
The root of the question is;
When you need someone, when you depend on them, when their actions are what seems to dictate if your life is full of joy or unbearably frustrating, how do you separate out that thing that you don’t have to question, that knowing. That unconditional love that looks like a warm light. The undeniable feeling that floods every cell when you see a baby laugh or are fully immersed in the splendor of the natural world, and feel completely natural in it.
The answer comes back to awareness. To seeing. Ruthless and terrifying as it is to see all those moments when I look at my partner for a bottomless pit of support rather than really seeing him. When I allow myself to feel impatient with my Mother, rather than seeing her shining as she ages more gracefully than I ever would have expected.
When I take myself, my projections, my wants and my striving at set them aside to really be present with another, there is an aliveness, an intimacy, a natural love the springs forward and that’s where life’s magic is hidden. Right under our noses when we are present to our breath, our life and our loved ones. All the in-between moments that make up a life, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it.
Anthony De Mello says in The Way to Love, a small book of meditations…
That love is indiscriminate. Like a rose that smells sweet no matter who is around, like a tree that gives shade freely to whomever comes to sit under it and like a lamp that gives its light. It shines because it can’t do anything else, it doesn’t shine on some and not others. It radiates naturally without effort there is nothing you can “do” or to show this quality of love. It shines no matter what you do, or what other people are doing around you.
Love is absent of selfishness and greed. Love is blissfully unself-conscious. Love loves to love without giving it’s self a thought. The rose gives it scent because there is nothing else to do, it is not dependant on someone being there to express appreciation. Lastly Love is freedom. If there is control or conflict the love dies. Like the tree it doesn’t force you to come use it’s shade, even if you are just out reach getting sunstroke! When we anxiously try to live up to expectations, to gain the approval and praise of others and we expect them to do the same.
It is a topic that sparks a fear of insufficiency. I’ve asked myself “What if I’m not feeling what other people are feeling, what I’m supposed to be feeling”
By Deborah Shewchuck