Do not be afraid to love. Without love, life is impossible. We have to learn the art of loving. Love by the way you walk, the way you sit, the way you eat. Learn to love yourself and others properly. ~Zen poet Thich Nhat Hanh
Decided I’d treat myself to a pizza the other day not knowing that thoughts of love would be a surprise ingredient. Cycled to the nearby Papa Murphy’s which prepares pizzas (veggie supreme), then it comes home for extras (added garlic, hot chili) and baking. During the few minutes of waiting I sat and watched ingredients tossed into colorful patterns on dough. Out from the young worker’s boom box was a hip hopping pop song with strong beats. Best I could tell the words were something like, “ooowhee my baby girl, my earth, my sky, my world, you’re everything to me, I’ve got everything you need.” Eyes closed I imagined someone speaking, and really meaning those words. “Ooooeeeh, baby girl…” Perhaps to an infant or young child. Music and beat suggests it is marketed at teens and young adults. Admittedly I haven’t kept up with popular music so I’d be hard-pressed to find that tune again. For my confused, inner teen this message has some resonance. “You’re everything to me.” For the older, slightly mature me those words don’t comfortably fit, poetically or metaphorically. Especially to say to another young or older adult. How could another actually mean everything to me? Be my earth, sky or world? Can I really offer everything someone else needs to feel loved inside? Could someone actually believe those words are true? Somehow I’ve been there, done that; failed. Cycling home, pizza strapped securely, reflecting on my heart’s history and what it means to love. And how, over time I’ve learned to express that powerful feeling towards myself and another with mindfulness. A hint: My experience relates to John Lennon’s “Love” a bit moreso than most other love songs.
Before birth I must have felt unconditionally loved, as it’s our inherent nature. All needs simply cared for – warmth, food, quiet and safety. A living being, fearlessly feeling connected to a universe supporting its fragile existence. But coming out into this world, grasping for that first breath, feeling jarred, perhaps my first jolt of fear; fearing for my very survival. This living being’s will to live at one, instinctually from the heart, without thought, challenged, coming out into this bright, loud world of the living. A breath, then a cry to greet the world. After more breaths, being held close, warm, and fed; returning to feeling love and connected. But also a first glimpse or experience of separation and fear.
For an 18-year-old young woman, untrained, insecure and without much support, I must have been both a bundle of joy and an instant difficulty. Despite my mother doing her best, she had much unhappiness that she passed on, along with love. Neither she nor I look happy in those frayed black and white photos. She left and divorced my father when I was 5. The little boy wanted, but did not feel loved much of the time. It was not so common or popular to grow up in a single parent family in the 60’s. Friends did not come to visit me at home, and I felt alienation. Love became an ideal, somewhere far away, if attainable, but seemingly worth struggling for like civil rights or ending the war. Being involved with social struggles and causes watered many seeds of anger and discontent, with only occasional flickers of love and contentment.
As an adult I fully experienced the love from another, best I could. For so many years her love helped me get in touch with my own heart’s capacity to love. But I still had the habit of suffering inside from childhood that limited my ability to give and receive love. As much as I loved her, there were hurtful things I must have said or did, unintentionally, that caused her to go away after many years. This sad loss forced me to make a grand effort to change my ways of viewing love. It has taken over a decade to understand inner pain, heal that 5 year-old inside, forgive others and myself and nurture heart’s innate capacity for love. With gratitude I was able to choose self-love over self-medicating and self-destruction.
A simple, yet powerful definition of love that now inspires and informs my life comes from Thich Nhat Hanh. His words say what we’ve experienced at times, that the word “love”, having been used so superficially, needs clarification and healing. Can loving a pizza or fries be a similar feeling or wish to loving your infant or partner or life itself? Once known, love is something deeper than a like or quickly passing want. True love, as taught, has four essential elements: friendship, deep caring, joy, and openness. True love is a deep practice of friendship and is not about sex, necessarily.
Friendship is offering happiness to ourselves or others. There are so many kind words and activities that bring a happy smile. When successful, our friend actually feels happiness and love in his or her heart. We can see it on their face and the way they respond. Often expressed as loving-kindness, this deep unconditional wish takes courage, but results in much good-will.
Caring or compassion is offered to help ease pain, discomfort and suffering. We know what it is like to hurt, and that insight helps us recognize that others, also, do not want to hurt. When we hurt, often we behave as a victim and hurt others. It takes time to heal our hurt and change that habit of reacting. Can we listen to another’s pain with only the intention to help them and not feel hurt ourselves? Our compassion has succeeded when the other feels less pain in their body, mind and heart. Caring deeply helps counter cruelty in thoughts and deeds.
Joy or sympathetic joy is to rejoice at another’s happiness and good fortune. With joy one feels contentment and ease. This is a counter to sadness and jealousy. Imagine being able to say, “your joy is my joy” and really mean it.
Lastly, openness, inclusiveness and balance; often called equanimity. To love with equanimity is like holding a bird gently, with an open palm, so she feels free to fly, not feeling judged or possessed. She stays enjoying the warm rays of being loved. Not having an attitude of superiority or inferiority. The sun and rain come down on everyone, demonstrating equanimity, offering themselves to us all without discrimination.
Over these past several years I’ve succeeded at living with love in my heart much of the time. Kindly offering myself a way of living and understanding of all four elements. I’ve been more sincere and skillful at showing love to others. Every morning waking up with gratitude for another day, wishing for the well-being and feelings of love for all. If I can succeed, then I’m sure you can too. It does take time, patience and being ready to forgive mistakes and negative acts that occur accidentally or on purpose. But the inner feeling of happiness and freedom is so worth it. Stepping purposefully towards true love can save your relationship.
Now it’s time to get the pizza out of the oven and enjoy it in mindfulness.
ps: My song to support feeling happy and safe with others (in a 70’s new age, folk-style) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myHezLesTPI&feature=em-subs_digest
39 Replies to “Oowhee Baby, Love is Real”
What a wonderful post. I admire that you could pick the self-love over self-medication and other destructive things. I have a hard time with that sometimes! But ultimately, over time, I do see myself moving more and more towards a full love-life, in a way. Even after reading your words, and while listening to your song, I feel my heart open and my shoulders relax more than they had been. Thanks for making that presence more accessible than it was ten minutes ago. 🙂
Thank you for your kind comment, Jennifer. With a strong, heart-based aspiration, you will find much happiness, returning to the present moment, over and over. And all the alcohol and other recreational drugs in my past never made the source of suffering go away. It’s wonderful to see life sober, with clarity and freedom. Wishing you steady, gentle success. You are worth the effort. Go team, go!
Your site has a very soothing, calming energy – it is wonderful that you send this out into the World! Thank you! May all of Humanity feel Love, Joy and Peace in 2013!
Happy to be on the Way together with you ~
Thanks for your kind comment, heartflow. Wonderful to encounter compassionate people in the blogosphere. Wishing you peaceful breaths and happy moments.
Very inspiring and courageous article! I too had a traumatic childhood unfortunately in my teens I chose to self- medicate with alcohol but now 22 years later I am a recovering alcoholic. We deluded ourselves that by avoiding our pain and loss it will magically disappear but when the drugs wear off our pain and loneliness intensifies exponentially.
Wonderful to hear of your success at attaining well being. We do our best in a society with much sickness. Perhaps our blogs will offer glimmers of active hope to ourselves and others. I’m gonna post one now in gratitude of legs!
Thanks for visiting my blog. I find your web site too very interesting!
You are welcome. I’m writing gratitude for my legs now. Thanks for your inspiring writing.
I can resonate with having to learn love (and to love), having had a father leave the family for another woman. There are different types of love but only one type, agape love, will keep relationships alive. This is a unconditional love. A love that does not keep a running score of hurts, wrongs or rights. It is a sacrificing love that longs to see what’s best for others, especially a spouse. Thanks for the post.
Thanks for your personal reflection and insight. I will look into agape love, thanks. May you be well.
Hi. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog today and “Like”-ing the most recent post in my blog. Your blog is wonderful — full of inspiration, joy and hope. I hope to hear from you again soon. Keep up the great work you’re doing here. Cheers!
Thanks for your kind comment. Together we produce active hope. May you be well.
Lovely post. Sorry to have lost you as a follower. I follow many wonderful bloggers like you, making it hard to keep up with everyone. It takes a lot of energy and time to write what I hope is something of value, as I’m sure you understand. Know that what I read of yours brings me peace of mind, contentment, and food for thought. No reply necessary. Continued peace as we follow our paths 🙂
Reblogged this on smilecalm and commented:
Thoughts of love for myself & others as I’m just returning from a deep
retreat in nature
thank you Vicki!
If you asked me what love is ….
As an infant
As a child
As an adolescent
As a teenager
As a young adult
As a young husband
As a widow
As a father
As I am
Not Being Afraid
thank you for your touching introspective experience of love, Eric.
yes, I can relate to that experience, line by line.
fyi, my next post will have a link to the mien conference speakers, you may enjoy the congressman and others, david
I look forward to your next post!!
Sounds like a wonderful trip!
yes, quite wonderful, thanks!
after reviewing the pictures
and the cleaning laundry
a blog post or two will manifest 🙂
I look forward to them!
Wonderful post. Thank you very much for sharing.
thank you for your kindness!
David – I too, love this song and video of John and Yoko, and then I watched another favourite, Stand by Me. I’m glad you were able to enjoy the outdoors this past week, and that some water and rain has come your way. Special thanks for sharing this part of your story, and your steadfast faith, love, and fellowship. Peace to you and all… In friendship, Bruce
thanks for your kind words and continued supportive friendship, Bruce.
rains have been nice, drop by drop.
I’ve been traveling and away from computers and media
which feels nice
but i’ll get reconnected to wordpress again soon
and enjoy your offerings! smiles, david
We walk together on this path, with or without pizza. Thank you for expressing your journey in love so beautifully.
David I love this song….its been playing in my heart and head now for months… ❤
I’ve just realized that your name may not be David, if that is the case my apologies 🙂 for some reason that name is resonating and popping up for me right now, and especially on your page. I love how divine guidance works…cant wait to see where it will take me ❤
yes, i’m David, my friend!
perhaps because this blog
is about supporting community
my name is not so up front.
you’re kind to check out the posts
and find whatever has come to my heart 🙂
Your words really resonated with me, thank you for that 🙂
it’s quite beautiful
and been with me
since that album came out about 1971
when i was in junior hi 🙂
🙂 I used to listen to it when I was growing up, even in Poland John was king, i was born in 74 🙂
…and thank you for this beautiful post, you mirror so much my own journey into the heart, into love and loving self…right down to your choice of song, which upon hearing it made my heart sing. thank you ❤
with love & light
may you, me and all beings
truly experience love
even if only for a moment.
why only in one moment…how about in all moments ❤