Early Spring/Summer mornings are my favorite because the night before, I like to open the window and sleep with great excitement for the morning when I can wake up to a fresh cool breeze, the sound of the fountain, and birds chirping. There’s something about that moment that pulls me into presence. I get out of my busy mind of “what do I need to get done today?” and into “aaaah, I LOVE this feeling…right now.” I feel a wave of peace roll over me where nothing matters but what is right in front of me: everything I have is everything I need. I need nothing more.
I took advantage of the time (6:30am on a Sunday) and went to the kitchen to make coffee. As I sit here on the patio sipping my coffee and writing this, I see geese flying over my home, an airplane, two mourning doves, a crow, and my pug staring at me with adoring eyes (or so I’d like to believe). It’s so quiet. I LOVE this feeling. Soon my children will wake up and the day will be filled with a different energy. The boys will play, and they will fight. There will be arguments about what’s for breakfast and how we will spend our day. Someone is going to get hurt and at some point we will all hug each other and make up. I will be exhausted for a majority of the time, but I LOVE this feeling. I am grateful for my children and for the incredible responsibility for being a parent.
And yet, every moment that I LOVE comes and goes. The sun is rising and people are starting to wake up and take their dogs out for walks. That moment I cherished- my joy- is now gone… but only in the form that I was experiencing. Joy is never ending. It will come again. This is life. It shows up in nearly everything we do: from eating a delicious meal to being in love in a relationship.
Love isn’t something we “get to keep.” It is simply an experience. Love is unconditional and within reach every day, all day. There is never a lack of love. Sometimes we think we lose love when we break up with someone we loved. But love is still there. It is within us always. We just got so used to feeling it in one form (the presence of another being) that we forgot about our very essence, which is love.
Just like everything in this world, from my morning calm, to a hot coffee, to parenting young boys, to being in a relationship, nothing lasts forever. Everything comes in and out of our lives. People. Things. Everything.
If we step into a relationship thinking, “Yay! I finally got what I wanted! Now I can finally be happy forever!” we will be extremely disappointed when that changes. The form of the relationship will change. Our feelings and others’ feelings will change. Relationships change. My sweet little boys that adore me will grow into teenagers and give me attitude…maybe…hopefully not!
And when things do inevitably change, we will become upset. We will think, “but this isn’t what I wanted. I need it to go back to the way I wanted it…the way it was.” Yes, wouldn’t that be nice… We will be disappointed time and time again as we hold onto our attachment to what was.
“Well, what’s wrong with that?” you might ask. There’s nothing wrong with wanting things to go back to the way things used to be. This is exactly the feeling that brings us to an important turning point- the point where we either suffer from our loss or thrive. That point is a choice. We can choose to cultivate resentment, bitterness, and anger toward the loss of what we wanted, or we can cultivate gratitude for the experience that brought us so much joy.
If we are to choose the former, we will miss out on the experience of knowing and feeling what it means to actually “love” unconditionally. And if love comes with conditions, it isn’t love. To experience love, we feel joy. To reject joy at the fear of losing love, is to hold love with conditions: “I will only love if I am guaranteed it will never change and never leave me.” That’s not love, it’s business. We forget that love is not an exchange, it is an experience. A “being”.
If we were to be honest with ourselves, we would all admit that even toward those that we claim to love, we are sometimes not very loving. We say or do things that are not loving at all. To experience love in its fullness, we are constantly brought to a moment in which we get to choose to be loving or not. Similarly, the people around us are constantly choosing, in every moment, if they want to be loving or not.
I have met many people who, when they don’t feel that their partner is being very loving at the moment, they jump in and out of other relationships because they believed that the only way to experience love is to feel loved by another. They go into relationship after relationship just to “fill” their emptiness… never really getting to know what it feels like to love.
It reminds me of a constant hunger that is never satisfied. Some people eat just to eat, and some people eat to enjoy the food. They eat to savor the flavors, aromas, and textures. They know the precious value that went into the growing of the vegetables, and seasonings, the picking of the fruits, and the labor that went into preparing the food. And with that gratitude for the experience, even a single bite is enough to feel full, satisfied, and joyful.
I think love is like that. It takes tremendous courage to love and be loved. So the more we open ourselves and become vulnerable, to share our minds and hearts and lives with another, even if it comes at the risk of losing that love sometime in the future, I still believe that it is better to love fully, than to never love at all.
And with that, the kids are up! Time to start the day!