Image by Christian Schloe
The Flower in My Life
“Now creating, actualizing one’s possibilities, always involves negative as well as positive aspects. It always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself, progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living. If one does not do this, one is refusing to grow, refusing to avail himself of his possibilities; one is shirking his responsibility to himself. Hence refusal to actualize one’s possibilities brings guilt toward one’s self.” — Rollo May, The Meaning of Anxiety
“… all about love and lovers, damsels in distress swooning in lonely lodges, postillions slaughtered all along the road, horses ridden to death on every page, gloomy forests, troubles of the heart, vows, sobs, tears, kisses, rowing-boats in the moonlight, nightingales in the grove, gentlemen brave as lions and gentle as lambs, too virtuous to be true, invariably well-dressed, and weeping like fountains.” — Gustave Flaubert
Romantic love is easy to ridicule, and it’s not seldom ridiculous, but I think it’s the antechamber to God’s love because it involves so much self sacrifice and persistence. I flirted around the edges of this personal version of love, with all its pitfalls and illusions, traps and woundings, that I should know a thing or two about its follies and sufferings. Throwing myself into this cauldron was my sentimental education and maturation project.
I made every mistake and misjudgement possible. I stepped on a lot of toes. I tread on my own toes. I barged in and then tried to back out carefully without offending anyone. I was an idiot where love was concerned.
But how else was I to learn how to love? I’m not sure there was another way. Even when I finally linked up with my one true partner I was still in kindergarten. My lessons were just beginning.
So here we are on St. Valentine’s day and I am reviewing my years of “growing a heart.” I can say that the important thing to realize is simply how to remove ego from the process. To the extent it’s humanly possible, caring for someone involves putting their needs before your ego concerns. It’s not possible to love someone and possess them at the same time.
There is something unquantifiable and uncalculated about love. It arises from sympathy, from empathy, from respect and appreciation. It involves forgiveness and intentionally forgoing competition, judgement and getting even. It requires keeping your own side of the street clean and not controlling or interfering with their ways of being. It means seeing the beauty they create and being a vocal supporter of their natural ways of living.
Love is a million things, but if your heart is there these things come naturally. Love is not a list of practices, but it’s important to know how thoughtless acts and inattention can deprive love of its rain and sunshine. No one likes to be taken for granted. Everyone wants to be seen for who they are. That’s the self that needs to be loved and to be thanked for existing.
So, on this Valentine’s day, I dedicate this little missive to the love of my life. Thank you for the gift of your presence in my life for these brief thirty-five years. I look forward to the next thirty-five.
- Anima Fire is my publication