I have been thinking about Love lately for a lot of reasons. One of the things about teaching that workshop is that part of it involves teaching about how relationships work and how we work within them. Which, is always a good thing to return to as a refresher course because for me at least, no matter how much you may know about how something works and its whys and wherefores – there is a chasm spanned by a single rope bridge between understanding and doing.
But its funny how easy it is to convince oneself that the knowing means you are also capable of the doing.
I think we do a disservice to Love when we dub it simple. Love is hugely complex, it is considered to be one of the complex or higher emotions. In other words, it sits upon a heap of other emotions that get piled just so and come together to form Love – while Love itself also maintaining its own separate properties. One can love separately from the other emotions, but one cannot Love in its fullest capacity without the presence of the emotions combined.
Within the act of loving we both hold and shelter our subjective experiences, memories; the objective realisation of the present combined with the simultaneous subjective presence of our judgments; the entirely subjective projections of our hopes and desires; and – the realization and acceptance of all of the former within another person while also, growing something wholly new between the two (which then assumes all of those things in its own right).
That is how we work. We are hardwired to have emotions, there is no getting rid of them. We can repress them, replace them and ignore them but they are always there – effecting not just what we think, but also effecting our bodies. A repressed emotion will eventually make you physically ill. Emotions are so strong that they can be felt by strangers emanating from us without our speaking at all.
What we strive for (hopefully) is a state of “emotional regulation” in which we can discern rationally whether or not what we are feeling/thinking in any given moment is appropriate for the reality of the situation – or are we reacting from the memory of our experiences and our subjective interpretation of them.
A better image for it than that clinical term is to think of each of us having a garden within ourselves in which emotions are growing and blooming wild. If we do not tend the garden, certain of these plants will grow too much in one area and strangle the nutrients for another. But we cannot pull up a plant and get rid of it like a weed, for the pollen and seed is always floating on the air.
Being able to manage one’s emotions is far different from the state of being removed from them. A person without emotions is psychopathic, without the capability of empathy or even sympathy and void of compassion – for emotions are what allow us to relate to others and then become motivated to take action. And a person who is governed by their emotions exists in a state of constant selfishness, need and demand and again is void of the capacity for empathy and compassion (but not sympathy – sympathy at its root and beginning is a selfish thing – be wary the person who is easily sympathetic, they are most like extraordinarily selfish).
The warning about the sympathetic person follows the same rules about being wary of the first person who is friendly to you in a new environment, generally there is a reason why they need to always be meeting new people.
Life is about choice. Love is about discernment and choice. And there is no choice that does not lead to more choices and potentials.
This need for safety, this need for surety and reliability in Love and Life comes from a place of insecurity and neediness. Love is…life is….always living and growing, that requires that we live and grow as well in it.
Ugh, once again I am having to deal with someone’s inappropriate, uninvited and unwelcome fixation on me. And this one is frightening because of the shape it is taking. I am dealing with social workers , the police, the family of, and some strangers. It is…both struggle and choice to not succumb to both fear and bitterness; to turn my cave from a place of life where things are made to a “panic room” where I hide.
It is also frightening because while many of the people who engage in inappropriate and unwelcome actions towards me give ample evidence of mental illness in their emails etc., it is something that is not defined or known. In this case, mental illness figures prominently and it is taxing my ability to discern what is appropriate – in fear and compassion when trying to deal with this. I wonder what some of these people who promote universal and unconditional love and acceptance would do were they in my shoes? Think happy thoughts? While this person will never leave the realm of the acceptance and respect for their humanity within me, to me, that is what is universal love; it is why I am so against the death penalty among other things. No one has the right to dismiss or disrespect another person’s humanity. But that doesn’t mean I have to love them any further then that rather shallow, universal love. And that is what universal love really is, shallow – not in a insulting way but in a realistic way. It is never asked the question “Would you love me still if…?” It never has to take into account details and decide to still love.
I came to that conclusion when I went through the process of deciding whether or not to take up correspondence with some prisoner’s who suffer from the other death penalty – life without parole. In my heart of hearts, knowing what they did and believing with my whole being that they should never, ever be allowed free – knowing that I did not have the salve of righteousness that corresponding with a death row prisoner carries – could I establish a relationship with them that was based in this universal love? Yes, because it is limited and remains on the surface., it recognizes only gross commonalities and no specifics for it is the love and acceptance of all for being a part of all. The other forms of Love would rather run screaming from the room.
All this makes me tired. I am so glad I am rolling into a double up session of teaching and that spring is almost here. I need the sun, I need the fun.
c.2011. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.