Love is recklessness, not reason.
Reason seeks a profit,
Love comes on strong, consuming herself,
Yet in the midst of suffering,
Love proceeds like a millstone,
Hard-surfaced and straight-forward.
Having died to self-interest,
She risks everything and asks for nothing.
Love gambles away every gift God bestows.
“I want to know what love is, I want you to show me.
I want to feel what love is, I know you can show me.”
Our culture teaches us how to live in reason and rationality, and not how to live in love.
We know we’re supposed to love. We know that the foundation of everything is love, or so we think. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is what we intellectually know when we sit in church on Sunday mornings. We sing along to John Lennon, “Love is all you need.” We sacrifice for the people we love, we fulfill duties and obligations from a place of love (or is it guilt? Hard to tell sometimes).
But no one has taught us how to love, and no one has defined what love is. So we have this huge undertaking within us and all around us, and the only way we know how to engage with it is through seeing some sweet face and thinking of sex. And so we become trained to think that the only way to get to love is through sex, and we’re sex-obsessed. Which causes us a lot of shame and guilt. And the spiral continues.
Boy, is this a mess.
Isn’t there some Mary Poppins figure who can swoop in and fix everything?
Yep. He-hem. That’s me.
A big part of the problem of the dating game in our culture is that it is based on reason and rationality, on meritocracy, and not love. And yet we all want love. So we’re doing these backwards things to get what we want, and then we get what we want, and we’re left unsatisfied, so we start all over again. And we’re left with confusion, emotional pain, and no resolutions about what love actually is, since it seems so changeable and moveable and out of reach. But we’re dying for it. We’re hungry.
Where we’ve gone wrong is that we’ve applied a capitalistic, or meritocratic framework—the framework of “how to get a job” or “how to get a raise at your job,” or “how to get a better job”—with how to love. And the two are extremely dissimilar.
In a work environment, our toughness and our diligence usually equals reward. If we seem calm, cool, and collected, if we seem sure of ourselves, we are likely to earn the respect and admiration of those around us. And if we can excel in our tasks, we are likely to get noticed, to get an increase in pay, to get moved into a position of leadership.
But this doesn’t always translate to the environment of love, romance, and relationships. Because love, romance, and relationships is not about a series of tasks. It is not a business. It is based on feeling and senses, not rationality. And unless we know ourselves on a very deep level, we are not always clear about what’s driving us toward someone, or away from someone else, when it comes to love. We operate, often, from desire instead of love, and desire is a hunger for what is out of reach. And so necessarily, then, what we desire and what we love is out of reach, and we’re doing marathons and completing tasks to attain it, to finally win it over so it feels like a prize, and so that prize makes us feel special and validates us. Only when we get it can we become whole. Only when we get it are we fully human. Only when we get it have we arrived. All because the person who was out of reach is now within reach, can we be healed and move forward in total happiness.
But wait. That record has a scratch. Because this is a person, and not a prize. People are not trophies. People have a whole set of complicated emotions and histories, a lot of messy thinking, a lot of hangups and boundary issues. So when we operate from a space where love is a game, and we have to win it, we rest in ease for a little while until we fall flat again, and we’re left scrambling how to figure out how to revive love and passion and magic and mystery, because the person we worked so hard to attain is not playing by the rules anymore. The rules have changed. Or there are no rules. And this sucks. So fuck it, let’s just go look at a lot of porn, or stay single forever, because people suck.
What’s beautiful about the Rumi poem above is that it is so true, but it defies our sense of what love is, because it suggests and shows that love is widely available. She comes on strong. She is not elusive and mysterious, hidden somewhere, busy with other things. She’s just hanging out, ready to play. So we think there must be something fishy here. What is love, if it’s right at our fingertips, all the time? That person must be undesirable. We back away. Love and desire are somehow opposing forces.
What’s happening, is what we’re actually desiring is to validate our own egos and sense of self-worth. We are desiring to fulfill a fantasy, perhaps, and usually that fantasy is based on a belief system we hold very deep, in our bones and our yonis. So when we desire what is out of reach, it is based on a belief that we’re not worthy of having what we want, that we don’t deserve it. We have to manipulate and strategize to get it, so when we do have it, we can now believe we are worthy and deserving. Only, the thing we’ve desired, a person, has a whole lot of opinions and beliefs, too. She or he is not a robot. She or he may not know how to play our kind of ball.
Oh my God, is anyone still reading this? Who the hell wakes up on a Saturday morning and opens their laptop to read this shit?
Anyway, what I’m trying to say, for starters (because I have a lot more coming surrounding this topic), is that many of us are very uncomfortable with vulnerability. We think that we cannot show vulnerability, because it is weak, and because we must be strong in order to survive. And if we’re uncomfortable with our own vulnerability, and we haven’t really explored what it means to die and to be alive, we’re going to panic and feel icky when someone presents herself/himself as vulnerable before us. It’s going to show us something that exists within us that we don’t want to see, that we don’t want to be reminded of. And that fear may make us run.
But when we have a fundamental belief in our own worthiness, in our own beauty, in our own power and capability, and we’ve wrestled with demons and fear and the knowledge that we’re going to die at some unknown time, in some unknown way, we see vulnerability as simply what it is: truth. We are vulnerable, all of us. We are dependent upon people. Thinking the opposite does not make the opposite so.