Society conditions us to suppress love. But love is not a thought in the mind or an assumption… it is not an action or even other positive sensations like loyalty or gratitude. The thought that love is present causes us to take others for granted in its name. The assumption that love is present causes us to settle or be settled for. Actions that prove love are force, not love itself, but evidence of the work we believe love ought to bear. Gratitude, loyalty, and other similar sensations are also different from love, as those experiences can provoke a game of reciprocity, using love as a transaction, obligating ourselves or others to do the same.
The emotion of love, however, is different than all of that. It is natural and close to the experience of freedom. It has very long legs because it wants to peer over the edge of the wall to see more. It feels like fun, passion, and inspiration. It results in growth, which is sometimes painful, but always beneficial.
To love the work you do, but to experience it without feeling fun, passion, and inspiration, might mean you are grateful for something it offers, and so you’ve settled, or, it might mean you forgot to feel the love from your heart instead of thinking it from your head. For each situation and individual, there’s a different answer, and we can never judge anyone for what appears to be authentic or inauthentic. It’s a process.
Notice I didn’t use the word happy to describe the feeling of love. That’s because love is not always happy. It transcends happiness. Even when it’s painful, such as during childbirth or marathon running, love provides the passion to persevere.
As for relationships (since that’s what “love” is often about)… to be able to feel love more and think it less would be extraordinary. Ask yourself, can the love be less conditional? Can there be play and passion without giving over to the pressure of doing what’s “right” based on what everyone else thinks people should be doing?
A talk about love can’t pass without my remembering the myth of Cupid and Psyche (I use this myth as my instruction manual for life).
In the story, Psyche never sees Cupid. It’s always late at night and pitch black when he visits her in their palace. In the unseen world, with no one else there to ask questions or advise, they are mostly free. In order to be together, they must forego the ability to see or be seen. They remind us, there’s nothing to look at when it comes to love, anyway. They are there to feel.
And so are we.