i’ve been pondering love a lot lately, as i seem to have had some fundamental change of nature. among other things, this change includes feeling like i’m overflowing with love, like i have more compassion, like i need to say more sappy things to a few people. that, plus the fact a number of people in my life have been pondering love in their own ways and for their own reasons, has had my head full of thinking about the nature of love. so i thought i’d use that as a chance to keep the blog from getting too stale. plus, as those who’ve been around me a while know, when there seems to be a theme in my life during a particular time, i often feel like it’s useful to talk out loud about it. and that’s just what i’m going to do until i run out of words, for the moment, on the topic. right now, it looks like there are four strands to my thoughts here.
to clarify, love here is all the kinds of love. not just romantic, in love sort of love. it’s also about love for friends, love for family, and general human compassion. try to keep that in mind as you read this long post, okay?
strand one: the individual nature of each love. this is the strand that the title of the post is inspired by. what i’ve come to realise is that each love, whatever sort it might be, is unique. it has to be. because each instance involves different people.
you see, the love i feel for one person has some of its roots and strength in the experiences we’ve had, the stories we’ve shared, and their particular traits. i may love another person equally, but because that love is based on a different set of experiences, stories, and traits, it’s a different love. my dad has always said he loves each of us kids equally, but for different reasons. i think that’s what he means.
and i kind of think it’s a beautiful thing, for a few reasons. you see, it means i never have to worry if this love doesn’t feel like another did, because it probably oughtn’t. it means that each person for whom i feel any love gets their own unique love from me, and that i am also being given a unique gift when someone loves me. (this is particularly cool for erasing jealousy about the past or about other friends, because if they love me, it is a new thing and not the same love they give or have given already.) it means that i feel like i won’t run out of one particular love, because i only use each one for one person. and it means that if one love is betrayed, it doesn’t kill me on that level of love in general. just that one particular love.
this also has some downsides and can lead to some emotional turmoil. but it’s love, so you expect that, right?
strand two: love doesn’t mean trust. not to be a downer on the tail of what was a happier strand, but love and trust aren’t mutually inclusive. that i love you doesn’t mean i trust you, and vice versa. which, actually, i don’t think has to be seen as a downer…
it’s awesome when i have people i both love and trust. to be honest, those are few and far between in my life. at the very least, the levels of love and trust i have for a person are not usually equal. making those few for whom i have loads of both extra precious. but knowing that i can feel one without the other and not feeling like i have to feel both is rather freeing.
i used to fuss over this. how could i feel one and not so much the other? did it mean i was wrong in my assessment of how i felt? and on and on…but now that i’ve concluded it’s just a fact of life, i don’t stress. i’m mindful of each and don’t tend to go barrelling into behaviours (either of showing love or trust) just because i’ve got one of those feelings. and you probably oughtn’t take it personally if you aren’t one of the very few for whom i have loads of both. because each is, in its own right, a rather lovely gift.
strand three: love ought to free you to be your genuine self. now, this may seem an odd thought on the heels of the previous strand. after all, this sounds like a trust-laden thing. but i think that love can’t be true if you are loving an image, if you’re loving the person someone is trying to project. in that case, you love the image and not the person. and, on the other side of that, i want to be loved for me. i want you to love me even knowing that i totally disagree with you on a topic, that we have different life goals, that i’m an indoor girl and you like the outdoors. that sort of thing. and if you can’t love me like that, it’s best we work instead on some sort of genial relationship or trust. and i’ll save my time and love for friends and family who do love me like that. and it’s okay. because i can look at my life and see how those people who see and love the person i truly am, especially the ones who know my quirks and don’t get any sort of pretence from me, have freed me to be true to myself. i was going to try to be true to me anyway, as i’m the only person guaranteed to stick by me through life. but letting them know and love real me freed me to love real me more. and then freed me to recognise and let go of self-misconceptions. and now i’m very-amber, and i dig her.
strand four: to feel love doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do anything about it. to be clear, i think that you can’t do nothing and expect love to survive. so you ought to find at least small ways to show and nurture any love you’re feeling that you want to keep feeling. but…
i keep running across people who seem to feel like their love of another person brings with it an obligation to act. and the thing about love is that it can be pretty blind and stupid. part of why you can love someone and not trust them. your heart, both in non-romantic and romantic senses, can suddenly throw itself at someone. i find that’s usually how love of any sort happens with me. one day i suddenly realise that, oh, i love this person in this way. sometimes i feel it growing, like my heart is creeping that way instead of throwing itself. and sometimes it’s literally instantaneous. and more than once, it’s been thrown at a person that was just a bad idea. they were a lousy friend, they were a cheating love, they were falsely acting in order to drum up compassion. and my stupid heart didn’t really notice. once or twice, my heart has forgotten i was already in a relationship and thrown itself. and, fortunately, i chose not to follow (because we may not be able to choose where it throws itself, but we can choose how we react to that) and, instead, used that as a wakeup call that maybe i needed to tend to the love in the current relationship. (or honourably end the relationship because this was a chance to realise it wasn’t the good answer long-term. but i’ve rarely had a chance to do that before the other person has butchered it up…good thing, or i might not have so many songs!)
so, whilst love is a great motivator for acts of kindness and compassion, it is not an obligation. i love you, but it doesn’t mean i have to do for you. i love you, but it doesn’t mean i have to stay with you. i have love for you, my fellow human, and compassion for your situation, but it doesn’t mean i’m obligated to give.
which means two things. first, that i can stop treating love as an obligation and treat it as something lovelier than that. second, that those things i do for you out of love are by choice, because i want to. because i want to feed the love, the relationship (whatever it may be). and it means that everything you do that i can recognise as a way of showing your love is not taken for granted. because i’m hoping love is motivation, not an obligation for you as well.
and if you’ve read through this whole post, it has either been out of love of me or because you’re a stalker. either way, it’s time for me to go put some sappiness in a chat window and an inbox and such. all this love talk has reminded me that those i love most are the best people on earth. yay!