An Inquiry About Love

The following is a contemplation on love. Its purpose is to inquire about the subject, identify internal beliefs, and spark deeper thoughts about a familiar and complex topic.

Love. The word is bandied about as if there’s an accepted definition that reigns glory over the landscape. Singers croon about it, preachers preach about it, advertisers promote it. Parents do it unconditionally, right? Yet, love ultimately has a different definition for everyone; and its true nature can feel elusive.

Maybe there’s capital L love and lower case L love. Capital L love is a field, an ideal to live from, a way to conduct your life. It’s an internal state, your true self.

What then is lower case love? Is it an ideal? Is it love that comes from dependence? I love you because you do a, b, and c for me; you provide me with fill-in-the-blank. I love you because I can control you? Because you fulfill a need in me?

Let’s not forget that love can be used as a bargaining tool, “if you loved me, then you wouldn’t (fill in the blank). That’s not love; it’s manipulation.

What is your definition? Do you recognize it has to do with how you were raised, what you were taught and is likely based on what you wanted, what you got and what you made it all mean?

Uppercase love is unconditional. It comes from beyond you and within you at the same time, the unblemished spirit that came into being when you were born. It’s there all the time, and your only task is to bring it forth. Live from it; love with it. I say your only task as if uncovering this hidden jewel is simple.

Lowercase love, like relationships, is conditional. I contend that recognizing the truth that relationships are conditional is an essential part of not accepting abuse and not disrespecting your boundaries or staying in something that hurts your soul.

Mothers and fathers are supposed to love their children; children are commanded to love their parents, husbands their wives, wives their husbands, etc. There’s an expectation of love in these intimate relationships. If you don’t feel it, you’re led to believe there’s something wrong with you, not the construct.

With the utmost sincerity in their voice, some people exclaim within moments of meeting you that they love you. I feel uncomfortable when that happens. I’m curious how does it land for you? How do you respond? “I love you, too?” “Thank you?” “What the hell are you talking about? You met me 10 seconds ago?”

I don’t know the answer. That’s why this is a contemplation—an exploration into the great mystery.

Some people will tell you they have the answer, gurus, shamans, cult leaders, who often charge grand sums and usurp your autonomy or soul in exchange for enlightening you and activating you. Remember, there are no shortcuts. You have to do the work yourself to get to your inner core.

In closing, because I have a timed ticket for the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Denver and have to wrap this up, I wish to say I know that Capital L love exists. And, while it’s everpresent, I don’t always feel connected to it. But there are times that I do. My ongoing intention is to do what I can to expand those moments, live more fully in the present, step in again and again. One way to do that is to practice accepting every part of myself; the judgemental one, the angry one, the sad one, the joyous one and the lover, again and again. They are all welcome. They are all loved, sometimes more than others. I’m a work in progress.

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