Updated: May 19, 2020
Love: One of the most sought-after things in human existence, right up there with power and money . . . but oddly one of the hardest to find and to keep.
Caring, compassion, respect, for others and for ourselves: all are forms of love, all vital. So why is love often so hard to hold? Are we thinking about it all wrong?
Lately I’ve been working on seeing love as a choice: a joy I can possess that's not dependent on any person or thing. But to do that, I must think about love very, very differently.
With his 70s hit “Love is a Drug”, Roxy Music’s lead singer Bryan Ferry made those words from Andy MacKay famous. Without the drug, we experience withdrawal; and when we lose it (to death, decision or rejection), that can be crushing for some, even cause to give up entirely. And when we believe we lack love or have lost it, our grief, anger and regret can produce some pretty weird thoughts like: God’s punishing me; I’m unlovable; or I’m just bad at love. But how true is that?
Love and loss can steal perspective. We can even begin to long for things our loved one did or didn't do that used to annoy the heck out of us: prying food out of back teeth, leaving a half-eaten banana to rot, ignoring that pile of clothes we tripped over repeatedly. Oh, if only to witness those habits again! Even our sense of humor can disappear completely, until it suddenly dawns on us we better be turning on the comedy or get someone to boot us in the arse and rejoin the living.
How we think affects the way we feel. How we feel affects the way we show up in life. And how we think and show up almost always affects the experiences we attract, “good” or “bad”. So when we change how we think, we change almost anything (e.g., “Life is Beautiful”, an inspiring movie about a WWII Nazi camp and a father's choice to help his son see their situation differently that helped ensure their ultimate survival).
Want to look at “love” in a whole new way? Valentine's Day February 14th might be your opportunty. With pink n’ red displays and candy boxes shouting from drugstore shelves, this day can elicit varying levels of anxiety (“Oh I can’t forget that!”). Or maybe you block out commercialized stuff completely, like driving past flattened roadside fauna so offensive you refuse to take in the details. Or you just despise “made-up” holidays—although Hallmark® didn't invent this one! (Check out www.history.com/topics/valentines-day.) Perhaps some of you believe you really have no one—which makes me want to drop hundreds of valentines on your doorstep. But being “alone” doesn’t mean we're void of love: it’s already part of us, and it’s our choice to tap it or not.
While this month some solitary folks might happily lay back with Netflix® or sadly drown their sorrows in pints of beer or ice cream, countless couples, families and kids will be like worker bees on honey—preparing cards and gifts to ensure their recipients know they’re cherished and appreciated.
How will you choose to see love? As an empty cup or lost treasure? Or as vital lifeblood to pour freely into another’s cup and into your own?
There’s no right answer. The point is we all have the freedom to give and receive love, caring and respect on any day—and that's a very selfless and self-loving choice to make, no matter our circumstances.