|Love is not love
Which alters when it finds alteration
Or bends with the remover to remove
O! No! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken
' Sonnets: W. Shakespeare
|Mention the word "Love" and it immediately conjures up a whole gamut of emotions and electric impulses. Hearken your ears to the passionate utterances. Heads bow gently, the heart drops its pride, eyes close and arms open a little. Love is the fire everyone loves to get burnt with. Love is the eternal sun that dispels the mist of sadness and despair in us. Love is the quivering spring in every winter's heart.
Yet, is there any emotion more complex and abstract than love? Can you buy a kilo of it when you need it? Can I bribe, demand or coerce it. You don't get it when you need it most but you often pay heavily for it. Still, we hunger for more love every moment of our life. Mother Theresa once said "The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than hunger for bread". How can we dig into this enigma called love? Experience teaches that love is the most burning and perishable of all human passions. But, certainly it is also the most human of all feelings with all the limitations and exaltations the word evokes. Yet, it is the very same love that sometimes inflicts the most festering wound within us when its labor is lost. It can sting like a hornet or stab like a knife. Love has the least amount of pity. In love, even the tiniest things count and nothing is forgotten and forgiven.
Have you really pondered what exactly this word 'love' means to you? I really had revelation about it when I read a real incident that happened to Stephen Covey, known as the Socrates of USA.
During a seminar, a man came up and said to him '
'Stephen, I like what you are preaching about relationships. But every situation is different. Look at my marriage. I am really worried. My wife and I just don't have the same feeling for each other that we used to have. I guess I just don't love her anymore, and she doesn't love me".
"The feeling is not there anymore?" Stephen enquired.
"That is right", the man affirmed. "And we have three children and we are really concerned about it. What do you suggest"?
"Love her", Stephen Covey advised him.
"I told you the feeling just isn't there"
"Then love her. If the feeling is not there, that is all the more reason to love her.
"But how do you love when you don't love?"
My friend, Covey told him ' " Love is a verb. Love ' the feeling ' is the fruit of love the verb or our loving actions. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her."
This incident opened my eyes to perhaps the most important dimension about love, that is, to see "love as a verb ". If we start seeing love as a verb, we will soon start feeling that warmth in the cockles of our heart. We will then see the mountains of snow accumulated in us gradually melting and transforming into irresistible, gushing waters of joy. This viewpoint is endorsed by writer Scott Peck who says "We must understand that desire to love is not itself love. Love is an act of will ' namely an intention and action."
In our youth we were sugar coated with desire and sentimentality, which many of us mistook as love. Yet, is desire love? Certainly not. It is because we have not pondered on all the facets of love we see in nature. Look how the sun warms every one of us in the morning with its soft dappled beams. Look how it fills the flowers with honey and opens the tender leaves and wakes up the sleepy rose buds.
The Sun opens up everything in nature and to me love means exactly the same. When we open our hearts to our fellow human beings, we start giving and receiving love. Love can flourish only in the field of human relationship. There is no better exercise to the heart than reaching down and lifting someone up.The greatest obstacle to our progress in love is our own self-love, our own ego and our self-regard. Love is a choice. As Anais Nin said "It is your choice if you invite the greatest tragedy in life ' I mean the incapacity for love."
The idea of love as action was the impetus for the great civil servant and Secretary General of UN, Dag Hammarskjold. His simple motto was "In our life the road to holiness necessarily passes through world of action". For him God was the eternal source of love. He believed that without showing great commitment, humility and warmth to the few with whom you are involved, you will never be able to do anything for many. Love, for him is without any object, it is the out flowing of a power released by self-surrender.
Hugh Prather in his "Notes to each other" echoes the same philosophy. He says, "To give understanding we must continue to understand; to give love one must continue being loving. To give a hand to another we must grasp firmly the only hand that has held us." All these underline that our longevity in love is decided by our loving actions.
As the great French writer Stendhal said "Love is a well from which we can drink only as much as we have put in, and the stars that shine from it are only our eyes looking in it." In this sense love is a return on your investment for it. Love dies only when we don't know how to replenish its natural resources. If it dies it is because of our own errors, betrayals and aberrations.
How can we solidify our love and constantly replenish it? We should first seek to listen. This is the first duty in love. The second duty is to understand at an emotional level. We can do this by opening the floodgates of our heart. Finally we should realize that love is a commitment. Without commitment, we can never nurture enduring relationship in our family or elsewhere. Building a family, parenting, caring and nurturing our children, partaking in all the drudgeries at home ' all these require a lot of patience, commitment and sacrifice. This commitment never presupposes anything in return. Your commitment in love should be total and unconditional. It shows again that love is intention and action. That is why it said that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference, our apathy to act, our coldness in commitment. People who do not chose to act in love, who deny love to others out of fear or loss, their lives are barren and empty. Only they are the losers.
"True love come", as the novelist Erick Segal said, "come quietly, without banners and flashing lights. If you hear the bells, get your ears checked". Love blossoms silently sipping the sweet drops of time. As Albert Camus noted "Brute physical desire is easy but desire at the same time as affection calls for time. One has to travel through the whole land of love before finding the flame of love." It is like an hourglass with the heart filling up with the passage of time.
Prayers for love will not generate any love
Pleading for love will not evoke love
Preaching about love cannot net love
No valentine greetings can perpetuate love
Only action, Action alone can sow the seeds to reap the harvest of love.
The strings of love are like the strings of a violin. Once you have learned the rules you must play with your heart. It then requires no map or chart. You only need an open heart. As the Fox said to the Little Prince in the classic of Saint ' Exupery "And now here is the secret, a very simple secret ' It is with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye".