To me, Love is the single greatest gift we have to share with others. I believe in the romantic ideal of Love, and although reality never achieves the ‘ideal’ of anything, I think it sometimes comes close with Love.
There is a huge difference between the reality of Love and the concept. Real Love takes work, it takes effort, it takes being open and honest enough to both give and receive it. It hurts. It rarely lasts. The concept is the easy part – just read any fairy tale or watch a romantic movie with a happy, sappy ending.
So many people buy into the propaganda that they either forget or never learn about the reality. And that’s sad. Because Love can be the most beautiful thing we have to give…or receive.
My belief in Love is one that has been tested and jaded as I get older and wiser. That’s where the dark light of change comes into it. If you are lucky and unlucky enough to experience Real Love, then it WILL change you. Sometimes it changes us quickly, sometimes it happens over a period of time, but the real thing will either scar you, teach you or show you truths about yourself that you never would have seen, otherwise. Those people who truly love us can show us things about ourselves that we might have been unwilling to see or unwilling to confront. Real Love changes us on a higher level, because the only ‘perfect love’ is that of the Divine. But we can still strive to match it.
My definition of love means that I give 100%. I don’t say “I love you” unless I mean it – it’s not some “off the cuff” remark that I just drop. Unfortunately, it also means that I’ve given my love to those who didn’t or couldn’t appreciate it, took it for granted, used it, threw it away, threw it back in my face, rejected it, didn’t want it or simply didn’t know what to do with it or how to handle it.
I try to think that those people just weren’t open to Real Love. They couldn’t or wouldn’t allow themselves to be vulnerable to the extent that it takes to fully experience Real Love. And maybe it changed them, somehow. I don’t know. It wasn’t that I didn’t love well enough, or the ‘right’ way, or that my love wasn’t “enough” in any way. And I don’t consider that love I gave as being wasted…you see, love freely given is never wasted.
But I’ve learned that Real Love isn’t about what you get from it. It’s not about what you get ‘back’, or if it’s returned, or even wanted. Real Love is given simply because you want to give it. Real Love isn’t selfish, in that sense….it’s not about ‘self’ or even ‘Self’…because if you really love someone, you care more about them than you do about yourself. That’s the bottom line, really.
I’m not talking about being co-dependent, or a doormat. It just means that there aren’t any strings attached to that gift. Unconditional, or as close to that as you can get. Any time you truly love someone, there is always going to be some level of co-dependency. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as long as it isn’t taken to extremes.
It’s why I have such a problem with the idea of Zen detachment…because if you’re never truly ‘attached’ to anyone, you’ll never be able to experience what Real Love is all about. Some detachment can be good, as long as it isn’t taken to an extreme. But detachment derived from fear…of being hurt, or being vulnerable…means that while you may not get hurt by Love, you’ll never fully experience the joys it can bring, either.
I’ve been burned over and over again by Love, because of my belief in what it means, how I give it, how I give 100%…I could let that hurt and pain stop me from ever giving it again, or ever being open and vulnerable to being hurt again. And maybe it will stop me, for awhile.
But in the end, all I can do and be is the loving person I am. And that means being true to myself and my ‘ideal’ of what Love means and is all about. Even as much as the dark light of Love has changed me, I still believe in its power. It’s the greatest gift we have to give…or receive.