There is a moment in the film ‘Love Actually’ where the little boy, Sam, is not communicating with his step-father (Liam Neeson). He retreats, he is forlorn, he doesn’t eat and he has a general malaise for life. Finally, his step-father confronts him and asks what’s up. With a little hesitation he looks at his father and says “I’m in Love”. His step-father, a little taken aback, almost with a laugh, responds “I thought it would be something worse” to which Sam responds “Worse than the total agony of being in Love?”
“Oh, you’re right” his father replies.
For the last 14 days all I have been focused on is the topic of love. I have watched hundreds of videos, read countless stories, listened to music that inspires and uplifts, waded through hundreds of images of people embracing and smiling and bursting at their seams with love. I’ve seen tears from loss of loved ones and I am now convinced that that kind of deep mourning is love at it’s most powerful. It’s Love when it’s standing on the edge, shouting.
I have laughed hysterically and cried with compassion and heartbreak and felt an array of experiences through stories and images and reflection and yes the ride has been, on occasion, agonizing.
My life coach, quoting Dr. John DeMartini, always reminds me that ‘that which we focus on, expands.’ So let’s say you’re in debt and all you focus on is your debt rather than abundance, then the feeling of lack expands. Equally, if you’re trying to lose weight and all you focus on is how fat you are then….you guessed it….you’ll probably get fatter. That’s the theory anyway.
Each day I scoured the internet, scrolled through my itunes collection, talked to my friends, emailed my friends and read countless stories around the subject of love. As each day went on and I immersed myself in good relationships and good people and kind gestures, I found myself getting happier. Yet nothing, physically, in my life has changed. I haven’t acquired any ‘stuff’, I haven’t added more people to my life, I haven’t gotten a new job or a new house or a new car. I didn’t go to an exotic place or take a new course. In fact, I’ve felt more in love over these last 14 days than I have in a long time. It’s almost the same kind of love you feel in a new relationship but I’ve spent a lot of time on my own.
Needless to say, I’m feeling it. Alive, I mean.
Most impacting however, has been the reflection of love in my own life. Taking the time to sit and look at the many ways love has showed up, both past and present, in my life has gifted me this feeling that I have a secret door to a portal into a dimension of life that no one else is privy too. Yet, everyone has access too. It feels as if I have a secret and I want to pull everyone aside and whisper zealously “sshhhh, listen, I know it sounds crazy but, Love is everywhere”. But then again, maybe people have been trying to pull me aside to tell me the same thing, all along.
I didn’t know what this 14 day thing was going to be all about. Little did I know the time and commitment it was going to take, but that’s what’s been the most rewarding actually. The time and commitment to show up and follow through and chose, every day, to do this meant that I had to show up for myself everyday. I wasn’t asked to do this and I wasn’t accountable to anyone for this and this is where is gets juicy.
As the days went on and each post was out there friends came forward and thanked me. People I didn’t know were reading it approached me to compliment the project and were grateful for the content; ‘I hadn’t heard that song before’ or ‘That poem was so touching’ or ‘That interview with Steve and Sal was just what I needed to hear, it was perfectly timed’. Even though it was I whom I made the commitment to, and it was myself I was holding to account it became very clear that in doing so, because I was sharing something, it touched others.
This theme, showing up for ourselves, and the idea of returning ~ returning to what you love, returning to what is good, returning to the people you love, returning to the reasons why you love those people and ultimately re-turning again and again back to yourself became glaringly obvious that this is where true love is held.
Every couple in a strong relationship I spoke to all had this theme of ‘being themselves’ in the relationship. Of providing a space to let their partners shine and grow and that their individual role was to hold their partner up, and to hold them close but not hold on. What was also clear was that these couples saw their relationship as something living, something growing and they didn’t take their eye off it. But, ultimately, it was the development of their personal relationships with themselves that fed the relationship, not the other way around.
I can’t honestly say what Love is, because it is many things. Perhaps Love is simply the vehicle and what makes the vehicle move is all the many variables inside. However, when it’s moving, when it’s running there is an unwavering feeling of being alive. I do know that Love is complete, we feel alive because there is no sense of lack.
I wonder if we tend to go wrong when we think Love always has to feel good. It seems to me, after reading so many stories, that you can have your whole life in shambles but if you are in a state of love, you don’t fall to shambles. I think we go wrong when we think Love is placed in the ‘other’. When someone, or something comes into our life that triggers a feeling of rush and excitement, we think that feeling is because of them and it’s agonizing to think we might lose it. But really, that feeling is because we find some sense of recognition of ourselves, in that person. When a lover leaves, or you leave a lover, or someone you love passes away – there is nothing good about that feeling – but we have to return to why we fell in love in the first place. Because they showed us something great about ourselves.
I think the real work in love is remembering that it is always there.
Nurture and treasure the love you have in your life and keep returning to remember. Feed the love in your life with gestures, with wild exclamations and unexpected offerings. Be bold with the people you love and, like my yoga teacher Mitchel says, return always, to what you love about them – even when they piss you off. Be courageous with yourself and look forward, everyday, at your reflection and find something to love.
Living this way can be agonizing because it means you have to show up day after day and re-commit. Re-commit to your dream, to your health, to feeling good, to doing good, to admitting being wrong rather than fighting so hard to be right. You have to show up and take the agonizing path of forgiving. Forgiving the person who left you, forgive the driver for cutting you off, forgive the person who didn’t love themselves enough and made choices that affected you. Then, stand in the mirror and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for eating that cookie, or spending your savings on something meaningless, for divorce or break-ups, for not being where you wanted to be right now, or for not loving yourself enough to make right choices regarding someone else. Then, go and do the right thing.
At the end of the movie, Love Actually, Sam’s father encourages him to seek his dream girl out and tell her how he feels. After a moment Sam looks at his father and says “ok dad, let’s do it. Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love.”
After 14 days of it I feel a little exhausted. Love kinda kicked the shit of me these past 2 weeks….but mostly, it kicked a lot of shit out in general. There were times I wanted to say “F@*k Love” but really I want to say “F*@k Valentines Day” and all the stupidity it places on loving someone else with a cheesy Hallmark card. As Bill Maher says “Let’s just call Valentines Day what it is. A flowers for blowjobs exchange program.”
Love doesn’t hold its meaning in someone else, that’s just the reward. The key to it all, all along is to Love Yourself. Naturally!
**Added Footage. A Video Interview with Tracy & Mitchel Bleier about Love, romance, marriage and Luck – over at my other blog http://iinterviewyou.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/tracy-mitchel-bleier-on-love-marriage-and-luck/