Monday, March 26, 2007

Wear Your Love Like Heaven....

(**I am back from my medical maze. Thanks for all of your good thoughts. :) Gratefully accepted! The medical stuff wasn't all that bad. It's just preparation for eye surgery. At my age and given health problems, they make me go through blood tests, an EKG and such. That in itself wasn't so bad but the flourescent lights killed me! I'm ready to curl up in a ball in a dark room. Too much light, too much noise, too much, too much... but I'll be around later today.

Thought I'd clarify one thing to have this post make more sense. It is not about romantic love ~ which is something I know absolutely nothing about. The more I consider the notion of romantic love, the more I come to believe that I am not really constructed for it. This is about community and friend love.**)


I got an off-list note about one of my comments from long ago. We were discussing love and I mentioned it as a behavior, not a feeling. I had to take a few weeks to really think about what I am trying to say when I use that phrase.

One time, I read that when Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, someone in the audience asked her how we can help facilitate world peace. She said, "Go home and love your family."

Naturally, my own approach is a bit more inclusive in the sense that "family" can mean all kinds of things to different people. For me, it just means the people who surround me. My community in Sacramento. My community in Thailand. My friends and their friends and families. Basically, it means most people I come in contact with in the process of daily life.

Authentic love, the kind that binds us together as a community is not a euphoric emotion that sneaks up on our blind side. Instead, it is something we keep learning and relearning it, over and over again.

A springboard quote for me is from Antoine de Saint Exupery, the author of "The Little Prince". He wrote "Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction." It is recognizing commonality that enriches experience of love. Knowing that we are all here for a similar reason, to learn our lessons of this incarnation, allows us to grow and mature as uniquely different individuals, yet bonded together.

The core of it ~ and what determines our behavior ~ is a willingness to believe the best about the people in our lives. I struggle with this on occasion because my monkey-brain tries to turn me away from that basic view. The world has not been friendly in the past and it takes constant effort to change my thinking. But I insist on doing it.

When I assume the best about others, which in itself is a chosen behavior, manifestation of that seems to naturally follow in my actions. The way it manifests is in kindness, even when kindness isn't easy or convenient. It means being kind, even if you don't choose to be kind in return.

If I assume the position that I will love you only if you love me, that's not love. That's business. That's trying to pull something from you for me. It's bartering. That's about the farthest thing from authentic love that I can possibly imagine.

I believe loving behavior is a willingness to encourage the best in us. It is a recognition that while we are flawed, we are at the same time perfect ~ just as we are.

I believe loving behavior is benevolent. I give to you because giving to you is joyful. I don't keep score or have expectations of a particular return. It's not an investment. It's a gift.

I believe loving behavior doesn't allow me to lie to another person because it is easier than telling the truth. And telling the truth should always be done with compassion and respect.

I believe loving behavior requires me to understand that when someone hurts me, they rarely do it intentionally. It is equally important to recognize that sometimes the most loving thing to do is separate myself from someone who is toxic.

On a global level, I believe loving behavior includes respect for the resources around me, to respect animals and people. It means loving the ground that I stand on and the earth that ground covers. It means loving the beauty we have that surrounds us on a daily basis.

Within this fairly simple (and perhaps even naive) framework, it allows me to live a loving life which then passes along to the next person ~ and the person after that ~ and the person after that. Those people love ten more and on it goes.

In that regard, I understand what Mother Teresa meant.




heartinsanfrancisco said...

The Little Prince could be a handbook for life. It's one of my favorite books of all time.

You've nailed an important rather large flaw in the way many people dole out their "love" by attempting to measure precisely the love that comes to them so that they don't give a drop more than they get.

It's a business transaction, and is totally opposed to what love is supposed to be.

Good luck with your medical appointment, Chani.

Pam said...

Good luck today, long med appts. can be draining. I'll be thinking of you.

Your post is right on. Love should be given freely and felt deeply. Never measured nor used. And we should have respect for those we love as well as for what we love.

Anonymous said...

Chani, I hope your appointment goes well.

This is a nice post, and it's something I've been thinking about for a post that's happening only in my head, so far.

There are times when I feel drained, like there is an imbalance in the love that is flowing through me. Too much going out and not enough coming in. I fix it by withdrawing and focusing inward for a time. I can't depend on others for the love I need.

Anonymous said...

This is the most beautiful post ever. Thank you.

You are right. The more I realize that everyone has the right to my love and respect because they are consciousness, the more my life expands.

But it not always easy for me to distinguish between loving someone because they are striving towards something and not allowing someone to take advantage.

Bob said...

I started to write a long comment here, but as I've been looking for a topic for my next blog entry, maybe this is the one. I hope you don't mind me appropriating it.

QT said...

Great post, Chani.

There are those of us who have loved so much we find ourselves spent. What is lacking is loving ourselves enough to separate from those instances. This is the hardest part for me.

It is hard, loving the way you have described - but not impossible. I think too many people love to see what they will get back. My mom always told me to love without keeping score or you will never really know love.

If you approach each situation with this framework in mind, I think your list of regrets in life will remain very, very short.

I will be thinking about you today at your doctor's appointments. Good luck.

meno said...

Thank you for this post Chani, because i have been throwing this quite around quite a bit lately, as you know. To me it simplifies down to this:
I can SAY i love you, and treat you badly. That is not love, no matter how loudly i proclaim that it is.

I wish you well at your appointment.

Lucia said...

A beautiful post. And an excellent reminder. Of what it means to love. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

There is no greater joy for me than the giving of love. It has never let me down, even in moments of darkness. Hope all goes well at the doc's office.

The Atavist said...

You say: "I believe loving behavior is benevolent. I give to you because giving to you is joyful. I don't keep score or have expectations of a particular return. It's not an investment. It's a gift."

I agree. But, at some point, might abuse or neglect at the hands of your partner be a factor in having your love diminish or disapear?

thailandchani said...

Susan, that is the main thing we have to get past to know authentic love. The score-keeping is the greatest stumbling block.


Pam, exactly. If we give a gift, we don't get to determine what happens with it. The person we gift might decide to use it, throw it away, hate it, regift it...


De, you sound like a classic introvert. There is only so much you can give before you have to replenish your own supply. Most of us don't get the love we "need", truth told. All we can do is keep giving it and trust the universe that we will be taken care of. :)


Hel... yeah.. that discernment thing. One of the things I've learned is that I can love someone and not have any expectations.. and I can also love someone but choose to not have a relationship with that person because of their own behavior.


Bob, I think that would be awesome! Looking forward to your post. :)


QT, you're right. We do have to have some sort of standard for choosing a relationship with another. That's entirely separate from love though. That's about boundaries.


Meno, exactly. Words are kind of empty when they're not backed up with action. And sometimes kindness doesn't look like kindness initially.


Lucia.. thank *you*! :)


Caro, amen! I can't honestly say I've ever regretted loving someone, either. I might regret some of the boundary choices I've made.. but not loving. Nope. That's never the wrong choice.


Atavist, of course. That is why I mentioned that we also need to know when to lovingly let someone go. I can honestly tell you that one of the things I've managed to do is have a very strong set of boundaries. One friend of mine calls me "Chani of the Boundaries". I love freely ~ but I don't put up with any shit, either. There's a definite difference between loving and being a doormat. :)


Peace, all! Thanks for your thoughts. :)


LittlePea said...

I never read The Little Prince but now I think I should. Dammit!I was just at the library! I think you've pretty much hit the nail on the head here. But I never misunderstood you when you said that love is a behavior. It truly is-we can tell our loved ones, "I love you," and then treat them like crap. Or we can be kind, caring and generous to them and say nothing because our actions will show them how we feel. Of course in this case the saying it is also a little cherry on top.

Good luck with all your medical procedures. It's not fun, I know! But I'll be thinking about you.

Liv said...

Oh, love. I love love. And all the feelings that come with it. The love behavior/decision is sometimes so like a freight train. To me, it just keeps coming and coming. And I do hope that there's another train coming back down the tracks in my direction to collide.

thethinker said...

The Little Prince was a great book. Another of my favorite lines from the book was "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."

Girlplustwo said...

as so often, i agree. the reciprocal nature of love is what flaws it. expecting others to feel the way we feel, or the lack of it affecting us. i am not there yet, but it's something i continue to work towards, a truly objective love. i don't know if i can ever get there, but i want to stay mindful of it. your eloquence today makes so much sense. and makes it seem so easy.

and yet, it's a lifelong practice.

Suzy said...

John Woolman, sometimes referred to as "a Quaker saint" said that "Love is the first motion" (meaning that love precedes action, or that all action must be grounded in love.)

The Dalai Lama says, "My religion is simple, my religion is kindness."

And with all due respect to John Woolman, I often think that kindness is the first motion (with love running a close second.) Treating someone with kindness (and its handmaidens, dignity and respect) very quickly generates the love in which action is rooted.

And incidentally, as I tell my children, being kind and being nice are two different things. Nice seems a lot more prone to being superficial and disingenuous.

Chani, thanks for this heartfelt post.

Suzy said...

Hi, again Chani. I posted a comment further back in your blog under "Respect and Tolerance". Didn't know if you'd go back to read old comments, so i wanted to alert you.

Mary said...

Chani, I am printing off your post to keep nearby. It is absolutely wonderful, and so true. Beautiful.