This Thing Called Love

Valentine’s Day defines February in much the same way Christmas defines December.  Whether you’ve jumped on the love bandwagon or not, you’re bombarded with images of a world ruled by romance and populated by passionate partners.

It’s not that I’m against love.  Oh no.  I’m all for it.  I believe love is a many splendored thing and, like Burt Bacharach, what the world needs now is love, sweet love.  (Funny, the things I remember from childhood piano lessons.)

It’s just that the idea of love that’s been sold to us from the beginning of time needs a little revision.  From fairy tales to scary tales (“reality” tv like “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette”) to promises of soulmates and twin flames, how can the real possibly compete with the ideal?

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s the imperfections that endear another to me.  I’ve had my share of “perfection.”  It’s intimidating, exhausting, and self-indulgent, not to mention impossible to maintain.

What I absolutely adore in others are the things that make them unique.  Things like using “sassafras” in a sentence in an attempt to sound sophisticated, consoling an elder by singing her show tunes, being able to recite the Gettysburg address in its entirety, knowing how to solve story problems or anything to do with algebra, naming the constellations with confidence, caring deeply for the environment, or always making time to give a dog a bone.

I also adore this uniqueness in inanimate objects.  Last night I fell in love with the sunset.  Not just because it lit up the sky with shades of red, orange, and magenta, but also because it created a kaleidoscope of colors reflecting off the clouds in the opposite direction. 

Up until then I was feeling tired, cranky, and creatively challenged.  Once I stopped and marveled at the sunset, I felt energized, inspired, and deeply loved.

The thing about love is that we so often limit it.  There is no lack of love. There is only a lack of awareness of it in its many forms.  

It is freely offered to us in a smile from the toll booth attendant, a bird landing on our windowsill, a door held open by a stranger, a warm breeze blowing at our back, a cat napping next to us, a toddler being tickled, or a song sung soulfully by a street musician.

Yet we don’t expect love from life in general.  We expect it from those we love.  And we usually expect it on our terms. 

If the center of love is the heart, it helps to acknowledge that the words “hear” and “art” are both contained within the word heart.  There is an art to love that requires us to hear, open, allow, touch, feel, see, taste, experience without fear. 

We’ve all had our share of heartaches, heartbreaks, and heart “attacks.” No one willing signs up for these or imagines they will follow the infatuation phase.  Yet in my experience, the greater heartbreak is not to love at all. 

Though you may choose to celebrate Groundhog Day, Presidents’ Day, your birthday, anniversary, or the new moon with more exuberance than Valentine’s Day, if you allow love to sneak up on you in small, unsuspecting ways, you might just find it every day. 



* I first wrote and published this a few years ago in my monthly ezine, Everyday Alchemy.  I thought I’d dust it off and re-gift it to you this year in hopes that you’ll be my Valentine. 

 

 

 

 

 

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