Songs have been written about it, movies made and books have topped bestseller charts for capturing those moments of exhilaration. However, there is never a love story without its heart aches. No love story seems complete without hearing about the separation and longing, the trials and tribulations before the happy ending. Some of the most famous love stories in fact are of love unfulfilled, love that brought lovers to their end for want of any other way to stay together. Other famous love stories are about a few moments of intense passion in lifetimes of ordinary - ness and how we sigh over those moments. Is it possible to find love that is complete and forever - without the drama or the pain?
We often speak about how love, beautiful as it may be, is short lived and its position usurped by the hum drum of everyday life. We often advise others about the amount of time love would last for them and how circumstances – marriage, babies, moving jobs, growing old etc. would influence their love for each other. We see couples at the movies and in restaurants, at parties and in cars who a few months ago were inseparable but all of a sudden sit without conversation, facing different directions – strangers in the same frame. On the other hand, when we see an old couple holding hands, smiling at each other, the love still bringing that glow on their face we sigh at the wonder of it. Is there a formula for this kind of joy and happiness?
I sometimes wonder – why does the most beautiful feeling in the world also have the ugliest manifestations? Why is the feeling that is powerful enough to drive a person to the heights of glory also the reason for a person going into the depths of despair? Why is this feeling so fickle? Why doesn’t love last? Why does it have so many ups and downs? Why are love and pain considered such inseparable bed partners? Also, why is this emotion so much more powerful than all the rest? The songs and movies and words that have been sung and filmed and written for love far outnumber anything written for peace or compassion or even joy and happiness… Why? Have we over romanticised this emotion and inflated our expectations?
There are off course many forms of love other than the more romantic form of love being mentioned here. There is the love of parents and children for each other. The love between friends, the love between siblings, the love for one’s pet. There is also the love of doing one’s favorite activity, the love for our favorite possessions and the love for being in a particular environment. Love is a multi dimensional concept and yet one is always plagued by the vagaries of love irrespective of the object of that love. Love seems to be the underlying theme of our lives and yet is so unstable!
This brings me back to the question - why the most beautiful feeling in the world is not also the most reliable feeling in the world. We’ve all experienced love, so we know it exists – we also know that there are some relationships which manage to keep the love alive so there is perhaps a silver lining to this predicament of “impermanent love”. Perhaps we need a new approach to love? Is it possible that we are looking for love in the wrong place, or for the wrong reasons? The majority of us are "educated" to look for love externally; we begin by wanting the love of our parents and then our siblings, relatives, teachers, pets and friends. After a point of time we begin our quest to look for that one special person who we feel would love us the most and in return be loved the most by us. We want to see the love in that special person’s eyes because it makes our lives have more meaning. We are encouraged by everyone around us to be loved, be approved of, be good - be safe - and a lot of times it means hide all those things about yourself which may not be loved or approved of! What confuses me is that love is about including everything so how can one exclude those aspects?
So we look for love and some of us are lucky to find love and we feel joy! After a while, however, we find that this love becomes ordinary – we begin to lose the thrill it gave us to begin with. No longer is our loved one singing our praises all the time, now we are also shown the blemishes. Similarly we discover that this hero, or heroine, of our dreams has a spot or more themselves. We then begin to panic about whether or not we’ve made the right choice, could there have been someone better suited. Were we in any way duped or naive while making this decision and is there anyway of getting out of it? By this time we have usually bound ourselves to each other with vows and conditions or with threats and promises and as a reassurance we now try to ensure the other person plays their part. To avoid losing love we chain it and then slowly stifle it. It is like the example of holding sand in the palm of your hand. The tighter you grip it the more it slips out. What begins as" love" turns to insecurity and control?
How would it be however if we were to look for this same love internally, within ourselves? Could it be that it would fulfill us just as much as being loved by another? Would it be the same if the love we showered upon others, hoping to receive it in return, we could shower upon ourselves? The first thing that comes to mind might be “Me? How can I love myself, I have so many flaws, I am not lovable.” Interesting, considering this answer comes from the same person who announces to the world that they love their partner in spite of the partner’s flaws…so flaws in others are acceptable but flaws in ourselves make us unworthy of our own love? We spend hours speaking with another to understand them but shy away from spending a few moments, speaking to ourselves to understand what is within. After all, we are with ourselves all the time; we do not need a cell phone to stay connected or the internet to share our lives with our selves. We do not need to wait for the self to call us or long to hear our own voice. The ego doesn’t need to get involved in who would call who first – the self calls me or I call the self is not a question we would agonize about. We don’t need to spend hours waiting beside the phone either, or keep our cells switched on all the time for that (just in case) moment. Can it be that as one rises in love for oneself one is more able to receive love from others and has the ability to give more love to others?
An experiment that one can try is every time you have that longing to reach out to another or are waiting for that phone call, text or mail; recognize that as a sign of your self reaching out to you. At that moment of yearning, spend some time going within and giving love to yourself. Put your arms around yourself; listen to some music you enjoy. Eat something your body enjoys, watch a movie you love. Just go within and spend time with yourself at that moment in any way that you can. Every time the yearning makes itself known speak to your self and ask your self what it wants, what it is feeling and give it to yourself. Perhaps in the beginning you will do it mechanically and not receive a response but over a period of time when your self knows that this is for real and you mean it that you love it, it will begin to respond and you will feel the response as joy, as peace, as contentment. You will also find the yearning for that other person magically vanish, without your even realizing it! When one is in love with oneself - every bit of oneself - good, bad and ugly one begins to feel the freedom from expectations - from oneself or others.
The more I love myself, the more I become clear about what I want. The more I become clear about what I want the more confident I am that I deserve that which I want. The more deserving I feel, the easier it is for me to ask for what I want. The easier it is for me to ask for what I want, the more the Universe gives me what I want. The more I love myself, the more reasons I find to love myself. The more I love myself the more I vibrate at the level of love and I attract those who vibrate at the level of love and give me love. Come, join me on this exquisite journey of self acceptance and love! May every day be a celebration of that Love!