At the beginning of the year I decided to make this my year of love, meaning I was going to add more love into my life. Love for myself, love for my work, love for my friends, love for my family and love for people on the street. I am always amazed that when I make something an intention it tends to show up in a variety of different ways and places, whether that is the universe or my heightened awareness I am constantly debating. But it always happens. As it is with my love intention. Over the past few weeks I have been challenged on my definition of love, I have engaged in discussions about love and I have been introduced and re-introduced to a number of readings on the subject of love. One of them that I just stumbled upon while looking for a book on my book shelf was True Love a Practice for Awakening the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh a Zen Buddhist monk. This is one of those books that I could read 1000 times and still be inspired–quite impressive considering it is only 100 very little pages long.
As I grabbed the book I opened it to a random page and I read:
“We really have to understand the person we want to love. If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. If we only think of ourselves, if we only know our own needs and ignore the needs of the other person, we cannot love.”
What I love about Thich Nhat Hanh’s writing is the simplicity and the beauty. In this day and age, when the principles of finding yourself, naming your needs, becoming strong and independent tend to be common place we tend to lose this simple rule of love. People are human. People aren’t perfect. The people we love mess up, they try hard, they get it wrong, they make mistakes. Our job as those who love them is to love them anyway. Yes, it is important to know our needs but it is also important to know the needs of those we love. Love is kind and caring it is about showing up and being forgiving. Love is about trying your hardest to get it right or maybe not even trying your hardest because you are tired and worn out and for tonight you are just too damn tired–but tomorrow you will try again.
I was recently talking with a client who has been dating a guy for a little over 6 months. They are out of the joyous honeymoon stage and they are both seeing each other warts and all. It is a time of insecurity and doubt and she is trying with all her might to make sure he really loves her by putting up all kinds of hoops for him to jump through. The sad thing is, it is quite clear he does love her, however he can’t possibly hit all her hoops or meet all her needs 100% of the time. In the session, we discussed the fact that even if they love each other and even knowing that FOR SURE, she still can’t predict him or possess him and he might hurt her on occasion. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her. Frequently in my practice I hear stories of manipulation, insecurity and fear disguised as love. This is not love. Love is pure and messy all at the same time. Love is about showing up and accepting. So today as you move through your day think about those you love. Are you showing up? Are you accepting them for who they are? Or are you protecting yourself and putting up a bunch of hoops for them to jump through?
Love is knowing them and loving them anyway.