Friday, April 29, 2005

The Meaning of True Love

The meaning of True Love - you heard it here first!

Love is not, as some say, the meaning of life - no, "The Meaning of LIFE"! Coming SOON to "A Better Nation" !

Love is not mere sentiment or sacrifice or salvation. Love is not even (merely) grand adoration. It is not a gift, and no one owes it to us. Likewise, we don't owe love, though it is very good if loving and being good at loving and getting better at loving is one of your top goals in life.

But no, you see, when asked about the "meaning of life" or asked, "what are your top goals for life," most of us don't jump to say "the mastery of love."

Love is a feeling, though that feeling is often only one sort of love, one facet of love. Love is a process, an act, a determination, a focus, a skill. And most of the experts on love say that, indeed, it is a rare skill.

True love, I think, is an intimate and intense form of altruism. It is a focused yet encompassing awareness and acceptance of, first, our own lives and then the lives of others and of life and of existence. We really do have to practice some pretty dedicated self-awareness and self-acceptance to get there, to love, to love as dynamic destination and mature course.

I have had many great friends in my life - a life, I think, particularly rich with friends, extroverted as I am, a wily hunter and gatherer of people and life's feast. But few have really taught me much about love, either intentionally or unintentionally. And perhaps I have only imparted progress in the realm of love to only a few.

But several of my friends lately have been teaching me a lot about love. And it is interesting to see how personal love can be - meaning how different this supposedly universal thing is. The goals may be similar - attention, compassion, quality time, acceptance, romantic feelings, 'til death do we part loyalty - but our paths vary.

One's sacrifice is another's coersion. One's gift is another's debt. One's quiet time is another's avoidance. One's fumbling is another's warning sign. We try, we try, and it is hard to do, to want and to try to be at once so sentimental, so attentive and attached and yet also respectful, liberating and detached. We humans are such complex creatures, and we do some amazing things.

I do know this: in part, love means wanting the best for another person, a concept, principle, animal or thing - and not necessarily at all what you think is best but what can be learned is best over the course of much time and consideration. Love's answers don't come easily or quickly. It is a path that requires such patience most Americans (and others, to be sure) mistake and rush the process and get off track. And True Love escapes them.

And I know this: love mixed with animosity or a struggle for power or loyalty is desire mixed with fear - fear of various factors, including the investment of love itself, since love is an investment (not for the bitterly cynical, snide or ironic, another way love is often at odds with American society).

We talk about True Love. What is the difference between True Love (capital T, capital L) and regular, lower case love (romantic fancies, infatuations, lusts, instinctual desires - you know the gamut of lower case loves)?

True Love lies closer to our ideals of love, our ideals FOR love, including some ultimate altruism, sacrifice and even heroism. In that its ACTIONS (our loving actions) match its feelings AND its virtues, True Love is heroic.

And what are the essential ingredients of True Love? How do we know when we are there, when we are giving the really good stuff?

Besides the extra added ingredients we might call "baggage" (some of the above - the quests for positive strokes, power, loyalty, sex, winning) or ego/id things (ditto) or "identity/personality" which both personalize and so confound love - and yes, help to convey and to express it, there are two ingredients that I think are the measure.

It is a long road to these things. It starts lower case and moves, if it is your hobby and your passion, with practice and even expertise, toward the capital T, capital L.

There is nothing first in love, since it usually takes a lot (years) of trials and errors in unlove or "alove" to get to the threshhold of True Love. So even though I say "first of all" as regards the first, I should say "eventually" - not "finally" or "at last" - since the road in love doesn't really end here, it only begins here.

The essential ingredients, the meaning, the measure:

Acceptance, first of all.

And above all: peace.



At 5/02/2005 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't those "essential ingredients" (like all good and bad things) come in a set of three? ;)

How about awareness?

Or playfulness... resilience... just plain "showing up"?


At 5/02/2005 10:44 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Ah yes, the "threes" triumverate is so western (father, son and holy ghost), but the pair is even more ancient - night and day, the birds and the bees, Adam and Eve, all the animals two by two. And for the Native Americans and other aboriginal peoples, often the number was four - based on the four directions and/or earth, wind, water and fire.

But h, I appreciate your suggestion of "awareness." Perhaps I saw awareness in this post as the vision needed to gain acceptance. I will keep considering the "essential ingredients."

Thanks, dear h.

At 5/04/2005 6:59 PM, Anonymous Dean said...

I think maybe we should include "selflessness and sacrifice", for in my experience we value the greatest that for which we pay the most.

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