What is Love:
Baby, Don't Hurt Me

Now here's a big question: What is love?

What is this feeling that people so desperately long for, fight for, and die for?  Love has captured the minds of artists, philosophers and writers for time eternal. We've been chasing this ideal for our entire existence as a species.  We write songs, speeches, poems, and paint pictures about love. Entire regions have been based around it and lives have been destroyed because of it. This feeling dominates our collective consciousness, we yearn for it so deeply. Yet is continues to elude us. It's the holy grail.

Why does love stand out above all other emotional experience?

We've been told that the experience of love is that of a warm hug on a cold day. It's the fire of passion that melts a heart hardened by the world. It's a knowing nod from across a room: a soft acknowledgement that you aren't alone.  It gives us the energy to move on despite the cost. Love can be an inspiration, a light in the darkness. Many of us cite love as the only reason worth living. We claw from it and hoard it. We scrap together our meaning from the crumbs of our broken hearts.

Love touches something in our hearts that many of us have forgotten how to fed ourselves. We fall into unhealthy relationship patterns when we make it our partner's responsibility to provide it for us. When we seek love from solely external sources we drain our own fire. But, this is so tempting! It's so easy to drop the responsibility of love onto someone else and to demand acceptance and nurturence at a moment's notice. It's what we needed to do as infants.  In these moments we think we are being vulnerable but in fact, we are forfeiting our power. 

For you see, love is everywhere. It is endless, abundant. Love is in the silence between words, in the song of a bird, it is in the sunset, love permeates all being. Love is the feeling, the knowing, that we are fundamentally ok. It's the part of ourselves that simply watches our experience and stays present no matter what. That's it! It's the feeling of unconditional safety and acceptance. As long as we are present, love is present. It is the willingness to engage over and over.

The this is a subtle thing. It's not the bombastic feeling that movies and music drill into our head. Love is more of a shift in perspective, it's a daily practice. In live in love is to live with open eyes and a broken heart. So often love is spoken of as a raging fire, what I'm talking about is more of an ingot in a forge. It radiates instead of burning.

The thing is, the only one that can truly accept us is ourselves. Others can remind us of that fact but they cannot do it for us nor we to them. That can be a hard truth to swallow. 

And that is why so many relationships fail. We ask for the impossible from our partners. We ask them to love us in places where we do not. Again, this sounds very romantic but it's a set up for failure. It often ends in resentment and hallow emotions. It's a losing battle. 

In order to love others we must first love ourselves. We must fill ourselves will so much love that it just overflows into others. And when they experience that radiance they'll be inspired to start filling their own cup. That way you'll do your part to remind the world that love is possible. Not candy-coated puppy love but true, unconditional, sustainable love.