If someone were to ask you to define what love is, could you do it?
We throw the word love around like it’s a two-bit whore. We use it to describe our affection for products, teachers, electronics, places, food, friends and sometimes the occasional lover. The one notion our “love” has in common with all of these things is a deep sense of attachment or fulfillment. So when it’s once-in-a-lifetime, soulmate-potential love, how do we know the difference?
These questions are coming up because I’ve met a guy who is so unique I honestly thought this assortment of traits would only exist in the outermost corners of my dreams. Literally spooky, strange coincidences have been at play surrounding the circumstances of how we met and as we get to know each other more. Bizarrely, this collision of fantasy and reality continues to occur. The only thing I know for sure is, Holy shit! I’m in newfound territory!
So here’s this gem of a guy who has come into my life and the hitch is this relationship is cross-cultural and long distance. I feel as if I’ve been thrown into the master class level of romance and I’m terrified because I NEVER pictured this happening. Not now! I’m scared I’m not ready. I’m scared I’m not capable. I’m scared I haven’t transformed enough yet.
I’m worried I’m still acting on past habits and unconscious samskaras (imprints). Do I even know the characteristics of what real, true, healthy love is, enough to recognize it? Am I making yet another wrong choice?
For some reason, I always had the notion that if some semblance of this guy ever came along, I’d be more evolved. But since it’s here, without further ado, I need a serious cram session.
Perhaps my mind is still louder than my heart but I want to be conscious. My history of ill-chosen suitors is comparable to the length of “War and Peace.“ Because I cared so much about accomplishment, I gauged dating on if it didn’t get in the way of my career (original blog post is here). It was always a short-term, it’s good-enough-for-now decision. I can’t look to my immediate relatives for guidance because that’s the malfunctioning, defunct reason I go to yoga.
With no examples in my receptacle of life to pull from, where does one go to learn about love?
I’d love for a therapist to be my sounding board but it would cost me a small fortune and years of time. Thus, I’ve decided on the impatient, poor man’s route…to invest in self-assessment.
I first looked to the “Yoga Sutras” because mastering the mind must touch on commanding the heart. But “love” isn’t even listed in the index. I read the last years worth of articles from the “Modern Love” section of The New York Times. I’ve scoured my notes from Oprah and none of it was resonating.
I would go to great lengths to figure this out but I am not toting around a self-help book in public. So under the cloak of my iPad I turned to a wise old mystic and purchased Osho’s book “Being In Love.” Luckily I struck gold with the first sentence:It is unfortunate that we have to ask this question. In the natural course of things everybody would know what love is. But in fact nobody knows, or only very rarely does somebody know, what love is. I cannot define what love is because there is no definition of love. It is one of those indefinables. It cannot be dissected, cannot be analyzed; it can only be experienced, and only through experience do you know what love is. Love is not learning but a growth…to unlearn the ways of un-love.
What I take this brilliant Indian sage to mean is, there is not a one-size fits all description. Love is truly like the overall concept of yoga – define it for yourself and determine what you need in the present moment.
Real love lets us learn by showing us what we’ve never known. It only takes once to reveal itself.
I also realize there’s no “right” or “wrong” decision to be with someone. That’s a judgement. It’s what you feel is needed in an exploration into your capacity.
Isn’t that what we do every time we show up to practice in a class that we think is above our abilities? We explore. On the best days, we explore with patience, curiosity, good humor, and no expectations. The other days we just muddle through but at least we’re practicing.
But we have to show up for the experience; to feel the good, the bad, the pleasure, and the pain to figure out what’s suitable. What’s pain to others may be pleasure for us.
I think we get attached to a sense of permanence when defining love and instead we have to surrender to the unknown. Let it happen in whatever form it might take. It’s not permanent and it will forever change as we do.
So for right now, I’ll be grateful to explore and open to unlearning what I might have known before…