14 Feb 2019

On Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As a disclaimer I usually hate this cheesy capitalistic holiday but in the past few months I have been rebuilding my idea of love and now I take the view that any reason to celebrate love should be seized.

I grew up thinking about love as a very important thing in life, especially romantic love. I have been incredibly lucky to have been in love, to face the excruciating pain of heart break and to raise from it as a much more empathetic and mature person a few times now. But something I have not fully understood until recently is that romantic love is just a category of love, it’s not the only love nor should I ever aim for it to be.

I recently listened to this podcast on Hidden Brain, (side note: this is the best podcast ever and you should totally listen to it every week), about why marriage has become increasingly difficult. It talks about how over time our expectations of what our life partner should give us has increased to the point where we expect one human to be able to provide most of our needs. This means shared interests, intellectual stimulation, physical touch, financial stability, friendship, and emotional support etc. A fulfilling marriage becomes much more unattainable once we have these expectations from one person in our lives.

This got me thinking about how we sometimes put a lot of pressure on the things in our lives, married or not. It can mean putting pressure on our parents to love us in ways that they may not be able to due to geographic distance, lack of shared experiences or many other things. It can mean putting pressure on our friends to gives us all the social energy we need. It can mean putting pressure on our jobs or school to give us the validation we want.

The guest speaker on the podcast basically comes away with the conclusion that there are max 2-3 things that we should expect our partners to fill in order to have a fulfilling marriage. For all of our other needs, we have all the other people and things in our lives. This makes sense to me and reminds me of something one of the teachers at my Vipassana retreat in November said during one of our dharma talks. She went on to describe most people’s description of what love towards another person is by saying “I love this person unconditionally”; however, she made the point that in its very definition you cannot ascribe “unconditional” which is limitless in nature to just one person. She was more of an advocate of referring to ourselves as unconditional love, that way we could radiate love boundlessly. This has really stuck with me and made me think about all the people and things that I love and what that different love looks like. It also made me think about how limiting it can be to reserve or lock love for just one person and expect them to fulfill so many of our needs.

If we think of ourselves as unconditional love, there is so much more to look forward to. Love can be for a city, language, class, person or food. Love is this thing that connects us all and once we are attuned to it we can see that it has no end or beginning just different intensities and chapters. My love for my mom is ever growing and changing. My love for my friends is dynamic and genuine. My love for the places I have traveled to brings warmth to my heart. My love for books and reading has been with me since I could remember. If we carry around the attitude that we are unconditional love and have the capacity to bring that to our work, places, events, and people, it becomes much easier to expand how much we can give to the world. This usually also means we are more receptive to how much we have been given. This means expecting less from one person and realizing that we all have so much to give.

In short what I’m trying to say is that love is expansive and once we choose to give it and not have stringent expectations of what others “should” be giving to us, it is truly wonderful. There is something very magical about feeling the limitless nature of true love. We can choose to celebrate that everyday and act with love and care to everything and everyone around us.

In the last few weeks I have started noticing my love for something in my life that is making me very happy, here are two poems about it:

This city that I’m growing to love.

Through the cotton candy sunsets, I watch as I come back home on the 101 and the too good to be true sunrises from Corona Heights.

How lucky am I to be in such a beautiful place, to begin feeling comfortable calling it home. That only 15 months after I’ve moved here I’m starting to feel this way probably says more about the way I feel love than anything about the city itself.

Besides there’s more beauty than meets the eye, there’s the dog eared bookstores which I love to spend time in perusing, the several yoga studios that make me feel whole, the theaters that have showed me eye-opening films, the coffee shops where I’ve had great ideas, the parks in which I’ve accomplished running milestones, the restaurants that make me the flex part of “flexitarian” (really I’m just a veggie loving omnivore), it’s the marked streets that I could point out where I’ve been heartbroken, the public transportation routes which I know too well and constantly complain about, the museums which never seize to impress me.

Mostly it’s the physical space and personal relationships I’ve built here so far.

I’m glad to be here and to be building home.

Thank you for showing me how to love you.

- January 23rd, 2019

I came to love you

Over New York style pizza

Over Boba Guys Matcha Lattes

Over foggy summer days

Over laughter

Over runs

Over mild weather

Over panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge

I came to love you

over the span of many, many months

But you were always right there in front me, changing and transforming as we all do

All I had to do was look a little harder and pay a little bit more attention

Because you have always been so incredibly wonderful, flaws and all

And here you are, right in front of me

All I have to do is breath you in

- January 31st, 2019

Until next time.

With lots of love, hugs and kisses,