Every painful thing is an invitation to healing. An opportunity for learning how to L ♥ V E

So many people seem so confused about human interaction, emotions, and especially love. I often feel like I am from another planet. And I ’m watching people play the game of the lie, calling it “love, ”destroying each other, blaming each other for being destroyed, and then moving on to the next victim.

It is a wonder anyone is still standing! So many people seem to buzz from one person to the next within seconds of something not fitting into some preconceived notion of an ideal mate, rarely stopping to consider their own part in the interaction, or of how they created just the thing which they now see. So much blaming, not enough owning up to oneself.

Or unwillingness to look at the “eye of the beholder. ”Not enough willingness to get our hands dirty, to do the work. We hope that somehow if we play the numbers game long enough we will fall —quite by accident or simply by being deserving —into a relationship in which we find everything we ever dreamed of. And hope it will then just be a matter of sitting back and relaxing into the sunset.

Wake up, people —LOVE TAKES WORK! In fact, a good definition of real love might be that it is the opposite of laziness. You cannot expect to find genuine love which does not ask you to rise to the occasion and be everything of which you are capable (and to extend yourself *way* beyond what you thought your self capable). This is absolutely fundamental to real love.

As opposed to a capitalist game (tempting scenario to believe in, as we are immersed in capitalism) which is more like: I go shopping, I buy (using my lifetime of accumulated assets to secure the purchase) a mate (whose label looks good, whose consumer reports are good), and then I simply enjoy him/her when convenient or as needed, until I use him/her up or I realize the label was inaccurate, and then buy another (hopefully better) model. Can anyone see there is a problem here? People are not products, duh!

Not only are people not products, but they defy description, labels, etc. They are magical. They change with the way you look at them. They grow bigger or smaller depending on how you move. They show different facets under different light. They are simultaneously solid, ethereal, metaphysical, chemical, crystalline, animal, dream, intellect, seas of emotion, histories, tangles, light, particles, waves, and more. Each one of us is more vast and complicated than anything we ’d ever read about in all the books ever written. You know this in your heart. So why not behave accordingly? Why not live the truth of this?

LOVE IS A BIG FAT WAKE-UP CALL! It shines a blazing light upon all the places where you are messed up. To the person who is asleep, this can be very painful. Even if you ’re awake, painful, too. Especially as it asks us to open our eyes and *really* look at ourselves, and then love ourselves most of all. And we ’ve all been trained with big sticks and subtle jibes that we are not very lovable. That who we are does not really matter. Only what we appear to be. So we stop looking at the parts of ourselves which aren ’t “fit for consumption.

”We alienate these parts and hope they will go away. That no one will notice. And believe that if the world *really* knew us, it would find us lacking. Messy. Untamed. Because the world is full of people who are as hurt and unloved and ashamed and confused and asleep as we all are.

If love is a language, we humans are only just learning to spell. If you are ready to learn to love, then EVERY PAINFUL THING IS AN INVITATION TO HEALING. AN OPPORTUNITY FOR LEARNING HOW TO LOVE. And while we may find a relationship which makes us feel “comfortable ”or is “exciting ”(but which leaves us ultimately feeling empty, give it a week, a month, or 20 years), this is not what the deepest parts of us long for. We desire true love —that thing which heals all the places we are broken and then allows us to be every thing we dream that we are. We Are!

Another good definition of love might be that it is the opposite of fear (or love is letting go of fear, to use a clich é).

If you are afraid of someone else ’s dark side, or if your own dark side (translation: baggage), or indeed deny that you/they have any, it will be virtually impossible for you to truly love someone —the real them/you. Everyone has baggage. Even if you grew up in the Brady Bunch and never left the set, you will have had experiences which hurt you, and scars and bizarre coping methods to show for it. You cannot have lived without being hurt by others, institutions, yourself, the nature of existence, the reality of loss/death/impermanence.

The size and quantity of your baggage may even be proportional to the extent to which you allowed yourself to be alive. And to have been engaged in truly exploring what it means to be a living Being.

If you played it safe to the point of being able to control all of the variables in your environment to eliminate pain, then *maybe* you escaped the inevitable scuffed knee or broken bone. But life has a way of seeking you out even though you might be hiding from it. So sooner or later, baggage will accumulate. Perhaps you have *way* more than you care to examine.

Of course, what people probably mean by this phrase “no baggage ”means, how well do you keep it hidden? Or how good at hiding it are your various addictions (to caffeine or alcohol or Prozac, to TV, to busy-ness/business, to self-help books, to endless seeking and grasping, denial, etc.). Or perhaps, what kind of a man/woman are you at dealing with it? The nature of your character. Can you carry it or not?

And we so much want to judge a man by how he walks. Heaven forbid we were to walk a mile in his shoes. We ’d certainly crumble. LOVE IS ABOUT COMPASSION. It sees the noble struggle in every person walking. There are hidden parts in all of us, which —if you ’d only care to look —explain every shade of lameness.

Love is all around us, but we must have courage and relearn skills which have been kicked out of us, to be able to access the powers love gives to us.

Though you may have plenty of chemistry with another person, or even benefit greatly from the gifts which they bring you, love is not about taking all you can get. Or using another person to fill a hole in yourself. Love is about being everything you were born to be (loving yourself) and putting that outside of yourself (giving the gift), sharing it with others. LOVE IS BEING FREE TO GIVE, BECAUSE YOU KNOW YOURSELF TO BE AN OVERFLOWING AND BOTTOMLESS SOURCE WHICH CANNOT BE DEPLETED BY THE GIVING.

Love is also about being able to hold all the broken parts of another person in a space of safety. Saying through words and deeds that you love them —ALL of them —(including things which are ugly or frightened or hurting). LOVE DOES NOT WALK AWAY OR CLOSE THE DOOR. Love does not punish or abandon another for the sake of self or grasping of the ego. For the short-term gain. Love is not a garnish for our pride. Or a prize for our achievements. Or a protector which keeps us from looking at ourselves or the realities of our existence on earth.

Love does not ask another person to do more than it is prepared to do itself. Love has compassion for the pain of another. Love is the intention and the will behind offering support. It shows up when it doesn ’t want to. Most of all when it does not want to. (Commitment phobics need not apply). It sticks with things/people even when it ’s rough. It struggles to break through the bullshit. It has faith that there is a good thing behind the bullshit. And suspends its disbelief in the face of appearances to the contrary. LOVE KNOWS AND UNDERSTANDS THAT ULTIMATELY, LOVE IS THE ONLY THING THAT IS REAL.

Love is not a game of commodities where we buy and sell our good traits, hide or cut off our bad parts. LOVE IS ABOUT MEETING ANOTHER PERSON EXACTLY WHERE THEY ARE, SEEING THEM IN ALL THEIR IMPERFECTION, AND LOVING THEM ANYWAY. Even loving those imperfections more than the shining parts sometimes, because they are often sacred wounds. Or battle scars which show the immense courage of having taken on the world, and the willingness to keep on walking even though there is fear and hurting around every corner.

LOVE IS LEARNING TO FORGIVE A HUNDRED TIMES, YET KNOWING ULTIMATELY THERE IS NOTHING TO FORGIVE, only the illusion of the need to do so (for the smaller parts of ourselves).

Let ’s all give each other a break! This life is hard. We all struggle. WE ARE ALL LEARNING. We all make a hundred mistakes a day through our actions and inactions. We are all struggling to do the best we can against our own personal demons and despite our fears and hurting parts.

We can pretend (to ourselves and to others) that we are above it all, that we have all the answers and look only for someone who agrees with us and can follow our rules, no matter how rigid and imprisoning they may be. But this is narcissism. It takes courage to bridge the gap between two worlds —or the gap between any two things. To stand in two worlds simultaneously and not drown takes faith. Takes everything you have to give in this world. Worth everything you have, too.

Love is a lot of work. If you aren ’t prepared to do the work, then you will be sure to attract similar people (and, I assume, have ultimately empty and unfulfilling relationships with them). Or, if you somehow stumble upon someone willing to do the work, you most surely will not recognize them. So prepare yourselves.

This is about being everything you came here to be. It isn ’t about winning the lottery and never having to work another day.

It is no small thing, this love thing.

I feel like I ’m from another planet with this. But my heart is my guide, and I trust it more than any vast contingent of earth people yelling to the contrary. Seeking contact with similar believers. Perhaps our words may sustain our hope. Perhaps I have touched something in you?

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