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Painting by Danuta Meyer

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” — Ursula Le Guin


“The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.” — Ted Hughes


“Sirs, you must have passion to meet this strange thing called life, and you cannot have passion, intense feeling, if you are mesmerized by society, by custom, if you are entangled in beliefs, dogmas, rituals.” — Krishnamurti


“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” — C.S. Lewis

Having the courage to love is indispensable in life. Really loving anything involves pain and loss. That’s why you need courage, because you will be exposed, unprotected from failure and abandonment. You will show who you really are, what you really want. If that self is rejected, it hurts. If you have constructed a fake self to take these blows so you won’t feel pain, your maneuver will kill your joy in living. Delight, beauty and creativity will pass you by.

We learn to protect ourselves very young, before we learn to think, really. That’s what I did. I gave up wanting to be loved by my parents before the age of reason. It was already automatic to protect myself from rejection and loss. It took years to come back into contact with myself, to even know that I had lost contact with love. I kept choosing partners I liked or was curious about but had no passion for.

I can see that clearly now, but at the time I was completely in the dark about it. I have a lot of sympathy for people who are out of touch with their natural attractions and passions. Healing from that state took application to expressive arts, to talk therapy, to lots of questing and self questioning. Life finally stepped in and presented an offer I couldn’t refuse. Over the years my defenses fell away and somehow found myself in a world where beauty and love were the daily reality.

I realize also that all my siblings experienced some version of my fraught path. Installing love at the center of your life is not easy for some of us. I developed a hypersensitivity to it. I notice instantly when it’s present or absent in people, in art or work or relationships. Life without it is dead, meaningless.

Extrapolating from the personal to the universal, we can see the chaos created on the planet by a simple inability to care, to be kind. The world is suffering from lack of love just as we individuals do. Animals, plants, the soil itself is in pain from the human failure to love. The one thing that will save the world is love, but we don’t know how to get there.

Our culture creates and maintains a barrier to values that promote empathy because we have to compete and succeed. We invest our energies in self image and ego and status. We secretly hope love will come to us that way, but it doesn’t, it just attracts hungry ghosts.

Power in the end doesn’t satisfy. It’s not the real thing. It’s a poor substitute for love. The knights and kings moving about our governmental and financial chessboard know power and its intricacies, but love and empathy are of no interest. They’re playing another game in which kindness doesn’t apply.

If we elect to elevate them to such a status, it’s because we ourselves are blind to their lack of humanity. They speak the language of our blindness. In this way, an unjust and cruel world is recreated again and again.

The world is a good mirror of who we are. When we change, the world will change.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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