“Love creates an “us” without destroying the “me.”—Leo Buscaglia
How do you define love or the experience of it? What is it like to experience yourself on an intimate level? I don’t mean physically but emotionally and spiritually? Some associate love with romantic feelings of butterflies in their stomach. They might talk about the sensations they feel when thinking about their beloved. But is love experienced through the mind, body or both? Is love a noun or a verb? How do we know if we have truly loved? What is the measure of having fully committed ourselves to love? I do not consider myself an expert on love nor a relationship coach. I am just as inquisitive as you are. What I know is: love demands nothing of us because it is an empty vessel to be filled. This is the analogy for life itself, where love is never wasted but recirculated.
Is love unconditional for you? Or does it come with requirements? What happens when those requirements are not met, do you withhold your love for another? Is it possible to withhold the essence of who we are? How can we stop water flowing in a river? You might say: build a damn. However, if the dam is not strong enough, the pressure of the water will find its way through or around it. You’ve no doubt seen tsunamis on TV where entire villages are engulfed by water. Water is a powerful metaphor for love because it can enrich a person’s life, yet it can also be destructive if it comes with conditions.
Do we need love in our lives? What does love offer us in return? Is it intimacy with ourselves or knowing others better? It was St Francis of Assisi who once said: “It is in giving that we receive.” He viewed love as something to be circulated in order to permeate our life and the lives of others. Love is like the Sun that gives of its energy and asks nothing in return because it is self-sustaining. The more we give love, the more of it we have. It begs the question: what happens when love is not reciprocated or the other person ceases to identify with love? If love is not returned, it does not diminish the other person’s capacity to give or receive it. The Sun goes down every evening and there is darkness for twelve hours. Yet, with the break of dawn, it re-emerges bringing energy to sustain life once more. It is a cycle sewn into the fabric of life and so it is with love.
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”—Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
When another person stops loving us, it does not mean we are unlovable. For you cannot stop the flow, it will naturally find expression in another form. Love is the antidote to fear, hatred and anger. It is the one true constant in our lives that is bestowed upon us from conception. We are born into love and leave this life knowing we will continue to love in the lifetimes that follow. The question is: have you dared to fully express love in this life? Have you given love freely and unconditionally? We ought to be like a sponge filled with water, totally wrung out when our time comes. We ought to fill our hearts with love and not withhold it for fear it won’t be reciprocated. Because every time we engage in love, it is magnified within every cell of our body. The more we give of ourselves, the more love expands within our hearts.
Knowing this, I invite you to contemplate your relationship with love over the coming days. Where are you withholding love in your life? How is this serving you? Does it bring a sense of safety, security or comfort? Are you willing to let down the barriers that impede the flow of love? Love needn’t be something expressed between two people but can reveal itself through our life’s purpose, our hobbies and our attitude. If you seek more love in your life, let go of the barriers that keep you safe from expressing it. See if you can find the place within you bursting with love and direct it towards something or someone. Love is a like bank account that compounds interest with each deposit made. Because if we truly want to know what it means to love, we must first experience it unreservedly while we have the chance.