Here it comes. Everyone's favorite romantic holiday. Personally, I think about love all the time – what it is, with whom I share it, how to give more of it, how to receive it – so this day is nothing for me but a Hallmark holiday. A reminder to send cards to those I love to tell them so. And because my birthday falls exactly one week from the day, I'm also usually contemplating my next year around the sun.
I'd like to think the proximity of Valentine's Day to my birth says something about me and love. Not sure what that is, but a thought I enjoy considering. Other than that, I've never put too much stock in February 14. I don't expect jewelry or even flowers. I would prefer you tell me you love me on a random Sunday in June and every other day after that. Bring me flowers when I'm not expecting it. That way I know Zales didn't have to remind you that you love me. I cringe every time the commercial comes on selling something that your "special someone" should have. To me, it reeks of a false sense of security and another ploy to seduce our already materialistic and consumption-based culture into believing love comes wrapped with a bow.
Our reactions to February 14 usually depend on our definition of love. Love is very personal. If you're not sure how you define or feel about love, try this exercise. Have a pen and paper nearby.
The audio below, is the perfect meditation if you've recently been through heartache or are feeling a sense of contraction or constraint in or around the area of your heart. Or, if you're feeling a desire for more compassion, joy and lightness in your life.
Do 4-5x a week for 4 weeks.
Now open your eyes. Slowly. Write down all the words that came to mind during your meditation or that are present for you now. Or simply describe your experience. Look at your words. Contemplate them. Are they what you expected? This may give you a sense of your perception of love.
I will share my list:
Without condition, acceptance, laughter, joy, light, encouragement, friendship, no judgment, warmth, compassion, no rules, intangible, pervasive, expansive, vulnerable, undefined, imperfect.
I'd also like to share with you one of my favorite quotes about love –
"Dear Human: You've got it all wrong. You didn't come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you'll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Live through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrate through the beauty of…messing up. Often. You didn't come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then rise again into remembering." - Courtney A. Walsh
I notice the discrepancy between the words I wrote and the quote. As humans, we place conditions on love. Perfect, unconditional love may be wonderful, but probably one of the biggest challenges we face in life. So we go through the messy steps, do the best we can, and if we are blessed, find a partner who recognizes our own sweet divinity through the haze.
This quote always reminds me that love is not the stuff of fairy tales and movies. A difficult lesson, as I like to romanticize that a Matthew McConaughey-type stud is going to chase down the cab I'm in and make me believe I'm so worth all the effort and the mess. If you're not sure what the heck I'm talking about, rent "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days." Worth the $5 and good for a chuckle. I'm learning love is not the destination – an end result to achieve that is consummated at the altar. It is the journey that we take day in and day out. It is how we treat each other – friend, mother, brother, lover, stranger. It is flawed, and it is fabulous.
I'd like to share an experience of love that occurred recently at an Ecstatic Dance event. If you're not sure what this is, in a nutshell, it's a free forum to express yourself, or not, through your body, any way you see fit. Typically, a DJ "guides" the journey with a music set that builds to a frenetic, fast-paced song then "brings you down" with softer, touching and relaxing tracks. You are free to sit and observe everyone else, as I did at first. But you can't speak or hold conversations, and you must respect others' space and experience. Often, people end up touching and moving with each other, almost like unrehearsed acrobatics. If you want to see love in motion, go to one of these events.
After I warmed up and let my guard down a bit, I found myself at times spastically throwing myself into a padded wall (which felt awesome – I'm pretty sure I got some unknown anger issues sorted out) or doing some weird sort of Seinfeld Elaine dance with someone I've never seen before, leaving me in hysterics. But when the music changed and my world stopped spinning, I found myself standing in the middle of the room, eyes closed, arms open to the sky as if releasing myself from any shackles surrounding my heart, awaiting a healing touch from the Divine. I heard the words "It's okay. Let go." as I surrendered, tears rolling down my face. Just as this love was approaching me from above, I felt two hands on my back. How comforting to know I didn't have to turn around, ask who it was or even look at this person. I felt their warm touch holding the back of my heart. It was as if the Universe wanted to personify the intangible. Which made this feeling all the more real. I released more and cried more and reached around to hold those hands, that love, that was supporting and enveloping me. I felt safe, understood, vulnerable and so many of the words I wrote above. I still don't know who that angel on my back was, but I know in that moment, I was loved. And there is nothing more healing than that.
As I re-read this blog, it seems somewhat disjointed, but I hope you'll take these words to your heart and find comfort, peace and healing wherever your definition of love takes you. I'll leave you with one parting thought on love. While Hugh Grant may be better known for seeking "paid for" love, his speech in a popular film reminds us that love comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes and…
If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion … love, actually, is all around.