on love…

love- relationship- togetherness, fear? space…. tightnessclosing- – heart opening blooms within our bodies

I sometimes find myself thinking over the details of a situation, replaying, analyzing, looking for clues, trying to determine what happened, what I did that contributed to an outcome, who I could’ve been different, where I went “wrong,” etc.

There is a feeling that goes along with this too, it is tight, worried, guilty, closed, hurt and sometimes a little frantic. In these moments I seek to find a cause so that I can prevent the outcome of pain from occurring again in the future. Did I say too much? Too little? Did I appear needy though I didn’t feel that way? Did I express that wrong? Should I have…? Did I…? In other words, it is a process that seeks to identify a cause within myself to blame. It is a process that seeks to understand and control what ultimately we cannot. It is an ego urge.  It is based on a false idea of perfection and the desire to get what we want.

The energy of this space is very uncomfortable and limited, and it’s a trap. It’s a road of illusion. I have a crude phrase for it, I call it ‘mind-fucking.” As soon as I feel myself going there that phrase pops in my head and I stop in my tracks. I know where that path goes- wasted time, feeling poorly about myself, reified belief in the illusion that I can actually determine causality, that I can know the mids of others, that I can influence whether I experience pain by changing myself or who I am in the world.

Take a breath.

Pain and discomfort, rejection, loss, surprise, disappointment, these sensations are just as natural in the world as joy, love, laughter, openness, and pleasure. Experiencing these emotions has become at least much easier since I stopped trying to change them, stopped trying to find the cause, stopped trying to micro-manage my experiences of pain. When I encounter these emotions now my first step is to take a breath. Then to remain open with a greater presence. In spite of the risk, in spite of pain, the truth I believe in is love. Love for others, love for myself, and love for the world. When I hold to that, and consciously choose to act from that place, I act from my truth and a place of integrity. It doesn’t save me from pain. But it has saved me from a great deal of suffering, suffering as defined as the struggling to avoid pain and the judgment we may feel towards ourselves or others around the experience of pain.

For me, acting with integrity and intention in the world means that I step outside of the cycle of action-reaction and act authentically. This can manifest in myriad ways, being kind to one who is rude, not escalating a conflict, not taking it personally when a person, even one you love, insults or seeks to harm you. I’ve gotten really good at this in my every day life- but as for most people there is an area of weakness around romance.

I’ve seen this in friends too- I suppose where we feel ourselves to be the most vulnerable we can find ourselves reacting in ways that we later say “I wasn’t myself.” Why the magic around relationship? Do we expect that the person closest to us will never hurt us? That it is an unforgiveable betrayal to experience pain within the intimacy of romance? Perhaps it is easy to see that everyone is human, but do we allow our partners the same human frailty or must they fit some other ideal? Surely it takes greater courage to face our most intimately painful situations with clarity and integrity, but it seems to me that our areas of greatest challenge and fear may be the most important arenas for practice. Indeed these can be the areas where we are truly challenged to embody our own perfect natures.

A conversation has been emerging around the subject of romantic love. One side argues for staking out some ground. Friends and family tell me “Ask for what you need. Make sure there is equal give and take.” Older men tend to tell me to play games, “Tell him you’re busy but don’t tell him with what.” “Don’t answer the phone for a few days.” Of course they all are coming from a place of love and a desire to protect me from pain, but at what cost?

The other side of the conversation argues that I should not put any requirements or expectations on any relationship, to let it take whatever form it will take. To ask for nothing.

I don’t want to put up walls.

I don’t want to approach relationship differently than I approach my life.

I don’t want to manipulate.

I don’t presume to know how this needs to be.

I don’t want to feel hard or closed.

How could my being hard or closed lead to the open and free relationship that I desire?

My love is strong and beautiful. It is supportive and challenging, loyal and humble. It is fun, curious, playful, joyful, and courageous. It is. It is God. It is life. It is not mine. It is how and who I am in the world. It is the manifestation of my deepest beliefs and values. It is a thread connecting me to the center of the earth and to each of the stars in the sky.

I give my love openly to the world. Sometimes that is really hard to do. Sometimes I want to give my love to someone and it’s not right for them in their life. That hurts. Sometimes people don’t see me for who I am. Sometimes people think I have ulterior motives. Sometimes people think I’m fake. Sometimes people just plain don’t like me. These things are outside of me and though they may hurt, simply put they are not my business.

 “The garden is your living space in which to work, grow food, create beauty, and exist within healthy boundaries. What lies outside? What grows within?”

I don’t believe in wrong or right answers. When the energy is there for two people, for a path, for a career, for an event, something can grow healthfully, and when it is not there there is no need to say no or play games or stake out ground, you simply continue to move with the energy. Though love may be a particularly difficult realm to exercise this awareness, especially considering the burden of expectation love carries in our charming prince culture. But for me it feels one of the most important.

Love attracts love, love is in everything, and charges every particle. When we act from a place of open love rather than a feeling of panic around keeping a particular object of affection, we recognize the truth that love will manifest in infinite ways in our life. Every experience of love is a momentary gift, not a thing to be held on to or kept.

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