Love and I have had a challenging year. We thought we knew each other, met each other’s needs and would be together forever. But this year, we’ve had fiery disagreements, whirlwind romances and extended periods of just not talking.
I’ve spent the year repeating the mantra:
Do. Not. Fall. In. Love.
I have found this to be a not-very-effective mantra. Besides its obvious intentional-wording-fail, my non-affirmation was undermined by the fact that I tend not to fall but, rather, dive into love – almost on a minute-to-minute basis:
“Oh look at the flower, isn’t it divine?!”
“Ooh, have you seen this new gadget? It’s going to CHANGE THE WORLD!!”
“My new friend is SO awesome!”
I can be intensely passionate about air (which, by the way, IS VERY IMPORTANT.)
Previously, I’ve written of love:
I’m a big sucker for love. In fact, it is my one value or guiding principle that has not changed over the years. It’s like the ultimate truth, the only reason we’re here, the singular essence of life: To live with love.
For me, love is about life, and life is about love. It’s a bit of a big deal.
So my chances of simply changing this aspect of my life with a “just say no” strategy were always going to be slim.
What I really need to be telling myself is “If at all possible, try not to get on that slippery slope where you think a person/experience/thing – is going to make your life swooningly better and you invest all your time and energy into this one person/experience/thing – and you lose yourself.”
Love has been dissected and categorised for millennia – from agape and eros, metta and ren, to drives and hormones, attraction and companionship. It shows up in different forms for family, friends, lovers, partners, experiences and things. This is not a new conversation.
But all these words and all this wisdom aren’t helping me understand how I can live with love every day – so that it enhances my life and the lives of those around me – and still stay focused on the other stuff that’s important. What I have realised is that when I do think of love, I’m thinking of “what could be” rather than “what is”. This seems to be missing the point of experiencing life, and love, now.
Perhaps my difficulty re-imagining love comes from the fact that all I see around me is its doppelganger, Love ™ (1).
Love ™ – or romantic love, materialistic love, patriarchal love – attempts to replicate love but it’s not the same. Love ™ lives in the future and the past. Love ™ is a story.
Don’t get me wrong. Our stories are important; they give our lives meaning. But this one isn’t serving me. Sure, Love ™ is wonderful, it’s intoxicating and it’s a great motivator to achieve what one believes impossible. But I have a hunch all this is possible with love – without the ego entrapment and energy-suck vortex of Love ™. I need my own story.
I keep thinking if I have a word for this other love then I’ll be better able to understand it and live it. But all the good ones – True Love, Pure Love, Real Love – have been appropriated by the Love ™ brand managers. And, anyway, I don’t want to make it exclusive – it’s not that kind of love. This love is available to all so I don’t even feel I can give it a capital L. It just is.
And … that’s as far as I’ve got. Not much, I know, but at least I can begin re-writing my story of what love is.
(1) Thank you to Laurie Penny for introducing Love ™ in her essay “Love and Lies” in Unspeakable Things.