“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Falling in Love
Driving down the street on a cold, wintry January day, with the sun streaming through my window, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy. It occurred to me, in that moment, that my life is very much like my child. It has its ups and downs, its pain and heartaches, its struggles and challenges. And through it all, I feel moments of incredible joy, an unconditional love for it, deep appreciation for all of its beauty, and immense gratitude for simply being along for the ride.
Last night, my daughter and I left a school meeting and walked a good ten minutes to my car, which was parked way too very far away for her liking on a cold, dark night. Although she was not happy to be walking so far, we bundled up and headed out, taking one step at a time into the cold air. As we walked and talked, I felt a tremendous sense of joy in those precious moments with her. We were leaving her high school orientation, my youngest child, growing up. I felt the gentle pain of the passage of time and the great pleasure of my immeasurable love for her. I was reminded how grateful I am for her and to be her mom - my heart felt so completely full.
Where Can I Find It?
When looking for love, don’t fall into the “Jerry Maguire” trap of looking for people or objects to "complete you." The truth is we don't need anything outside of ourselves to find love. Instead, we simply need to open our hearts to what is already there - an endless capacity for love. We make the mistake of thinking that we need to go out and find love, completion and happiness in objects, relationships or experiences. Although all of these can bring us temporary satisfaction, in our search we quickly realize we cannot depend upon finding lasting love in objects, people or experiences. We discover that love does not stem from any outside source. Instead, we need to reach deep within ourselves, open our hearts and connect to the beauty and grace that is inside and around us. Only then will we realize that we are already complete and can fall in love again and again everyday.
Sharon Salzberg once asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama what he thinks about our resistance to fully loving ourselves, and why we have such deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness and self-judgment. The Dalai Lama seemed a bit confused and asked,“How could you think of yourself that way?” He found it quite unexplainable why people would choose not to love themselves. Salzberg went on to explain to him that in our Western culture, “We are conditioned to associate self-love with selfishness, and self-deprecation with virtue.” It seems we are more comfortable with self-criticism than self-love. But I wonder, what is the value in withholding love? How is this serving any purpose other than to increase our own sense of lack?
Once we learn to see these unhelpful patterns, we can learn to let them go and open the floodgates to find what lies in all of us, an incredible capacity for love - love for ourselves, for the world and for the people around us.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.”
– Oscar Wilde
Again and Again
Every day we have the opportunity to see and savor something, big or small, that is good and beautiful that we can love. Even the simplest of things, when noticed and appreciated, are sacred and can open our hearts and our endless capacity for love - a deep breath, a smile from a stranger, the warm sunshine on your skin, a beautiful song, a walk with a friend. We just need to be present in the moment as often as possible and allow our hearts to open so that we can notice how it feels to fall in love again and again and again.