We look at love in our own way. Some don't understand it. For others, it doesn't exist.
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WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
Love can instill the strength of a lion
and the vulnerability of a newborn lamb
It can show you the peace of a summer breeze
and lead you to gaze over the edge of the abyss
It can never be exactly what you want it to be
but it will always be exactly what it is
Do not fear love, for it inevitably ends in death
but embrace love for it is the meaning of life
You can search for it if you wish
but in the end it is love that will find you
~ ki ~
YOU DON'T LOVE ME
You say you love me all the time. When we talk. At the end of an email. When you sign a card. I hear the words, I can see the words, but I do not believe. I do not feel it. Why is that? Is there something wrong with me? Am I not perceptive enough? What am I missing? Where is the value of love, for me, if I do not feel loved? Where is the value of love, for you, if the person you love does not even recognize it? Or worse yet, simply does not believe you?
Is your love selfless or selfish? If you are really doing it right it should be both, but as with many things, selfish is a double-edged sword, and the wounds it inflicts can indeed be deadly and deep and lasting. Love is a commitment. A dedication to the needs and well-being of the target of your affection. It is almost an obsession, but a controlled one. Not an easy task. The selfish part is that it should only happen when it brings YOU happiness. When it is something that YOU want. If it is not both for them AND for you, then what you have is not love. It can be a thousand other things, and should be recognized for what it is, but that thing is not love. It can run the gamut from concern or caring all the way to like, but that is all it is. If it was really love, each and every time we said it? This world would be a much better place than what it really is.
Look around you. Is there too much love in your world? Call me jaded, but I don't see it. Our relationships, our politics, our society, our planet. A lot of people may be trying, but they are having a tough time. You could say that they don't really have a clue what they are doing, and you might be right. Most people love to think that they love, and they love to say the words, but their actions are not in harmony. They enjoy saying it. They enjoy hearing the words. But they don't do it. Love is not the easiest thing in the world, it's the hardest. People don't love to love. They love to hate. Hate is easy. Too easy. Maybe hate is too strong a word, but there are many flavors of hate. It may not be hate, but it sure ain't love.
You may notice that I do not do the same. I rarely tell someone that I love them. Why? Because I have thought long and hard about the concept, and I have come to the conclusion that it is one of the greatest gifts that I can give to another. I treasure it for what it is. An extremely precious commodity. It is an absolute. And it is truly forever.
Love is the ultimate form of respect that I can show to another human being. For the most part, it is non-refundable. Like I mentioned, it is a commitment. The only way I can ever renege on my love for another would be if that person were to change into something unrecognizable from the individual that I learned to love. And even then, I am not sure that could happen. For someone to change that drastically, they would have to experience great changes in their lives, endure unthinkable things. Who would I be if I were to abandon them because of their weaknesses, because of the damage suffered, because of their loss of self? Never will someone need your love more than at that moment. Their very soul hangs in the balance. How can you ever turn away?
And that is why you cannot love indiscriminately, and love everyone and everything. The burden would be too great. The responsibilities would be overwhelming. I don't know if anyone could handle it. I have come to the realization that I cannot. I accept that. I do not distribute it around like candy. Because it is not. It is not because I do not wish you well, because I do. I want you to experience a life, full and rich, with success and happiness and fulfillment. And all your children, and their children as well. It is what I want for everyone, because I firmly believe that it would be part of the solution to us all finding a way to live together. Happy people complain less, share more, and hate less. They feel the need for violence much less. They rarely hurt other people through word or deed. They tend to accept the need to live and let live. And they don't try to run your life quite as much. At least most of them.
True love is a wonderful thing. There is really nothing else like it. Its value is priceless. I recognize the value as it is given, and I acknowledge the value when I am lucky enough to receive. It is a rare thing indeed. There is NOTHING that I value more unless it be life itself, and my philosophy for living that life. But then again, there can be no life without philosophy, and there can be no philosophy without life. In many ways they are one and the same. And of course, without philosophy, there can be no love as well.
Love is not a feeling. It is a decision. It is a rational process that culminates in the decision to love. Love is not just a word. It has great meaning. It is a symbol of the recognition of the values that you hold as the best and greatest of yourself. You love someone because they embody all of those things that you have discovered are necessary to live a proper life. There can be no exceptions.
To love, you must respect them, as you respect yourself. And if you have not yet learned to love and respect yourself? Houston! We have a real fundamental problem here. If you cannot understand the fact that you cannot love another unless you first love yourself, you need to contemplate what that means before you go out and hurt another with ignorant love.
All of this is impossible without a well-defined and integrated personal philosophy. It should be a priority for anyone and everyone to develop a philosophy before embarking on life’s journey through love and relationships. There must be standards. There must be goals. Without philosophy you are only setting yourself up for failure. You will find nothing but frustration and confusion. Love is not a matter of luck. It is a matter of effort.
You must define it, and search for it. When you find it you will have to work very hard to keep it. You cannot tame love. You cannot control it or coerce it. It cannot be bought. You do not get it because you simply WANT it. You will only have it because you DESERVE it. And you will never truly experience it unless you display the strength of character exhibited in the ethics and integrity that goes into your every thought and action.
To love someone, you must respect them. It is imperative that you must appreciate and understand THEIR own unique philosophy of life. And you must agree with what they are trying to accomplish. You must recognize the integrity of their thoughts as reflected in their actions. And integrity will always be a fundamental prerequisite. You must admire them.
It is always relatively easy to admire an individual of integrity. There is no inequality when it comes to integrity. No matter your situation in life, no matter how rich or how poor, it is in the power of any person to live a life of integrity and character. Without it, you cannot love, and you cannot be loved. Without integrity, you do not deserve love. Anyone can choose integrity, although many neither understand nor strive to achieve it.
"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice' but integrity"
~ ayn rand ~
You cannot love everyone. You cannot love the world. Do not even try. You can say you do, but you are only deluding yourself. You cannot love the poor, the ignorant, the disabled. You cannot love blacks, or whites, or any other person we label, simply because they belong to any particular group. You can have compassion for them. You can empathize with their unique circumstances. You can sympathize or pity them. You can offer support. You can help them. There are a myriad of ways in which you can interact with them. And I hope you try. But you cannot love them all.
If you truly can love a single person, then you are doing something right. Start with that one person. Love them. Understand them. Understand yourself. Revel in the joy of real love. Love them unconditionally. But love them by choice. Love them fully and completely. But love them for a reason. Love them with your heart, and with your soul. Love them with your mind. Especially with your mind. That is your decision. The epitome of 'freedom of choice'. The right to choose. Think about everyone else later.
Many people never experience a single real love in their lives. Try to appreciate what that means. Do not underestimate it. Love when you can, but do it for the right reasons. Unrequited love is still a beautiful thing. Giving love is a wonderful thing. Receiving love in return is not necessarily required. But when you find someone who returns that love? Please, never take it for granted. People ask, 'what is life? What is it all about?’ That is what life is. Loving, and being loved. Don't ever stop looking. Don't ever stop loving. Don't ever stop trying.
"Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity"
~ c.s. lewis ~
A point must be made here, as I argue with myself. I want to make this as clear as possible, whether you agree or not is irrelevant. I am not preaching here, even though it can possibly appear as such. Nothing I ever say is anything more than the opinion of a single person. I have long ago given up on trying to convince people that do not wish to be convinced, or make people listen to that which they do not want to hear. I am following my path. These are observations. They are opinions. They are MY philosophy, MY dogma. At least for today. Tomorrow, who knows? Change is always possible. Probable? Maybe not. Certainly not change simply for the sake of change. It took a long time to get here, and it won't give up easily. But it does happen, and more often than many people might believe.
The flip side of loving is being loved. When someone says they love me, I have no way of knowing or understanding exactly what that means to them. I welcome the words, but we should all be skeptical, at least to some degree. Are there ulterior motives? Do they understand what the word means to me? And what does it mean to them?
As already mentioned, it should be a matter of deep mutual respect and admiration. How do I feel about that? Does that respect and admiration exist? And what about them? What do they base their love upon? Is it something based on deeply held beliefs? Are there standards, or do they treat it like pixie dust, and sprinkle it around wherever it makes them feel good? It would be presumptuous to believe that they agree with everything I have laid out here as my own beliefs. And what do I know of theirs?
Intimate knowledge of another is fundamentally important to the process. A never-ending conversation needs to begin at some point. And I do not want to introduce romantic love into this particular discussion, but the sharing simply has to be intimate for there to be love. Any love. All love. You need to talk of things of importance to you. Your deepest beliefs and thoughts. You need to share all of the things that make you who and what you are.
Any relationship of consequence needs an honest communication. Any relationship that includes love demands so much more. It demands that intimacy and vulnerability that gives each other the information to decide if the person is one of substance and integrity, and deserving of love. All people may want or need to be loved, but many may never deserve it, and we are all the final arbiters of where we bestow that love. No one else. You have the right to disagree. It is your choice. This is mine.
So be careful about how you throw your love around. Not loving someone does not negate your liking them. You can try to like as many people as possible. You can say you love them as well, if you so wish, but I already commented on that. There is little obligation in like. Not really any responsibilities. It’s a political nicety. It is kind of like vanilla ice cream. For most people, something neutral. But I have to admit, I really like the vanilla bean. But vanilla ice cream is kind of boring unless you make your own.
Everyone wants to be loved, but few people truly are. I too would always welcome love, but I am realistic enough to realize that love is a rare thing indeed. But hey! Like is good. Like is great. I can easily live with like. There are a lot of worse things in life. Like the alternatives. Let's all start by liking one another, or trying to. Less complications. Way easier. But we are not really here to talk of like. Like can be quite nice but love is something completely different.
“Everyone says love hurts, but that is not true
Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts
Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts
Everyone gets these things confused with love,
but in reality love is the only thing in this world
that covers up all pain and makes someone feel wonderful again
Love is the only thing in this world
that does not hurt.”
~ liam neeson ~
I must admit that I really don't love many people at all. But when I do, it’s all or nothing. Anything. Anytime. Anywhere. And as I said, it entails obligation. But it was my decision to love, so there is no real burden that goes with the love. And the responsibility becomes mine alone to exhibit and practice those qualities of character and integrity I expect from myself, as well as others, to even discuss the concept of love.
The standards are demanding, but they are there for a reason. They define whether a person, myself included, deserve love or not. There can be differences of opinion, but there can be no exceptions as to the standards I have set. Your decisions are your own. I do not ask you to change yours. I do not even ask you to accept the validity of these beliefs. I would appreciate it if you would, but it is not necessary. It is not relevant.
I display them here simply to share a passionate belief that has taken decades to craft and develop. I find it hard to believe I will not take those beliefs with me to the grave. But again, no exceptions. No excuses. I do not ask people if it is ok to love them. I just do. Because I WANT to. Because it makes me HAPPY to be able to love. Because I believe they DESERVE love. Because . . . well . . . I love them. They have the freedom to accept or reject. They can ignore my reality. I fail to understand why anyone would turn away from someone that has declared them as an example of the best that humanity has to offer, but that is not my decision. They can then ask me anything in the world, and if it is my power, they would have it. No questions asked. Well, maybe some questions. The standards will never be negated.
My philosophy must be indulged. They can store it away for the future. It's a get out of jail card. And there is no expiration date. The only way to negate that love is for them to change into someone so totally different that the trust and integrity is in question, and therefore someone who no longer deserves the love. That, or a deficiency in the character within myself.
And we return to the concept of love, or my interpretation of a lack thereof. I am not saying that there is no like there. Even that is not for me to decide. But by my standards, I see no love. I really do not understand. I am distraught. I am at a loss as to how to alleviate the situation. I am hesitant as to what actions to undertake.
What I have attempted to do is not working. I try and make no demands. I try to have no expectations, and a good thing that is, and yet I experience sadness and disappointment. But to have no expectations is to not care at all. That is not my reality. When I am told that someone loves me, it can be very confusing. I hear many words. I make note of them, to be saved for a future time when they can be compared to actions. Words of caring but I feel no real concern. I do not doubt sincerity, but when even the lowest of expectations are not addressed, then I must question truth. I hear words of support, and yet I feel abandoned and cast adrift. I long for interest in who and what I am. Respect and acknowledgment for the things I try to accomplish. But I neither see nor feel anything to make me think that exists.
I have related that I believe love to be an expression of utmost respect and admiration of someone’s values. An acknowledgment of their character and integrity. My heart and my mind and my soul all tell me the same thing. What am I to do? It is the way I feel. I am not sure who is mistaken here. Maybe we both are. Maybe neither. Perhaps it really doesn't matter. It is frustrating. I feel powerless. Is it hopeless? I don't know. Oh, well. Who is John Galt?
I have spent a lifetime creating a philosophy that, for me, will always be a work in progress. With each new concept adopted, with each new conflict resolved, I find myself with hands tied, but voluntarily. It is ironic, but the more comprehensive your philosophy becomes, the more free you become, but you seemingly lose the freedom to decide many things. The decisions have already been made for you, but they have been made by you. Decisions come much easier for you have already considered and decided in advance. So it is with this.
I do many things that I do not enjoy in this life. But they are done because my philosophy dictates it to be done. If I am not true to self, then I lose respect, not for you or from you, but for myself. What kind of integrity do I possess if I cannot stand up for what I have taken forever to develop and craft? Again, I really have no choice.
"To believe in something and not to live it, is dishonest"
~ gandhi ~
So, in the end, we all make our own decisions as to who we may love. We are in control of that decision. We have little or no control of those who love us, or only believe they do, except to live a life that attracts love. To wait for it to find us and for someone to profess that love. I am ultimately the one that decides, rightly or wrongly, whether to accept love as real or less than real. Affection can exist on an infinite number of levels. But love is an absolute. There can be only one real love. All the rest are alternatives and less than real, with all kinds of grey areas. With many of these we may deceive, whether knowingly or unconsciously, while with many others we are deceiving only ourselves, and those are for us to attempt contemplation, hopefully understanding, and at some point, search for resolution.
There is something that is rarely discussed but should be noted in passing. Many people do not even consider the ramifications of their attempts at love, the fact that there can be repercussions from using the word indiscriminately. You say it, and you may believe it. I hear it, and I take it to heart, because I want to believe it as well. I am happy because I am loved. Maybe I don't question the motives or philosophy behind the comment. Maybe I just really needed to be loved and I accepted it with the naiveté and pleasure of a child.
Who doesn't want to be loved? On some level we all do. They say it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. But love can be a weapon and can bring pain and suffering that, for some, can be unbearable. It can leave lasting scars. It can sometimes kill. Just something to think about while we prepare to love the world.
Be careful. Know yourself. Know your love. And then love the best you can.
After all, love makes the world go round. Know what I mean?
Love is all ya need.
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