Though it’s a few weeks after Valentine’s Day, the aura of the holiday still hangs in the air. My daughter’s box of school valentines sits on the kitchen counter. The cupboard hides a pile of candy ready to be doled out to children once a day (maybe). And, the pink alstroemeria blooms on the sideboard only recently croaked.
While Valentine’s Day represents a fun diversion in our house, I’m wise to the Valentine’s Day Fallacy: the holiday has a tenuous relationship to true love.
You know what true love feels like. It feels like a lightness and a heaviness all together. It is seriousness and joy simultaneously. It is softening and strengthening. It is the blade and the bandage. It is the state in which we are both most ourselves and care about ourselves the least.
Far from being limited to romantic relationships, this true love permeates our lives. It’s everything and everywhere. We tend to misunderstand love because we only experience it here and there. But, in truth, our loving relationships are only access points in which we partake of something much bigger. It’s as if, in each relationship – with a beloved partner, child, friend, or pet – we poke a hole in the firmament which holds back the expanse of universal love. Love squeezes through that pin prick, taking on the color and flavor of a particular relationship between particular beings in this incarnate world. And so, you experience a particular incarnation of love – romantic love, familial love, love of country, love of friends, or love of pizza. The risk here is that it’s easy to misidentify what you’re experiencing – to, for example, see romantic love as the only relevant version of love instead of just one manifestation of many.
Given this, the recipe for expanding the love in your life is straightforward. It doesn’t take mastering a dating app or having a child. Instead, find a love or two or three in your life. Look for the places where love comes easily for you. You could begin with a particularly lovable pet, place, or, yes, even a human. Feel this love. Deepen into it. And then, know that this love is available in your relationships with all people and with all things.
Start by holding that belief in your mind and that feeling in your heart. Then, look for the data which might support your new understanding of the world. When you look now, where do you see love that you didn’t see it previously? What new capacity for love has opened up inside you? Look at the world with eyes that see the possibility for (and inevitability of) love in all exchanges. This is the work of expanding love in the world.
I would love to hear your reflections on love and how you bring more of it into life.