What is this phenomenon called love? Investigate this phenomenon and you will find that it is not just one experience (phenomenon). No, it is manifold, many different experiences (phenomena) hidden under one label – love.
What are these manifold experiences housed and mingled together under this umbrella called love? There is the experience of desire which is more accurately labelled lust. And as lust is not acceptable, given our cultural practices, it is called love. There is plain sex and that is called ‘love’ or ‘making love’. There is ownership – in the sense of I have exclusive rights to you, your body, your sexuality, your resources, your time – and that is also called love …. and there is love as in care and caring.
It occurs to me that we would help love to flourish if we reserved love only for authentic care for another. What kind of care? Care for their wellbeing – in the physical, emotional and spiritual domains of life and living. Whilst I can talk about this it is better to get there more concretely. Allow me to give you an example.
In the morning as I was headed out to spend a few days away from home I was got a surprise. What kind of surprise? On one of the doors leading to the outside, a door I have to go through, I found a note for me. What kind of note? This note:
My wellbeing requires me to start the day by taking the Levothyroxine tablet. And to end the day by taking a statin tablet. That is just so. And more than once I have left my tablets at home. So my son, late at night, after I had gone to bed had written this reminder for me and left it where he knew I would see it. Why did he do that? Because he cares for me – he loves me.
Now, here is the thing to get. It is quite possible that my son felt strong feelings of love for me that night. And those feelings would not have shown up in my living nor made any difference. Why? Because I do not have access to his feelings. I do have access to his actions: I got present to the depth of his love when I saw this post it note and it moved me to tears of gratitude and joy!
I say that contrary to what the songs say love is not a feeling. No, love is verb – it is doing. Doing what? Doing that which contributes to the wellbeing of those we claim to love. And not doing that which gets in the way of the wellbeing of those we claim to love.
So you and I are confronted with choice: to live from the default context where love is a hodge podge of phenomena or to create and live from an ‘extraordinary’ context where we use the label love to mean love – love as in compassionate caring for the wellbeing of those we claim to love.
What choice will I make? What choice will you make? In making our choices we should be mindful that love – as in caring for the wellbeing of another – is the access to transformation: of my live, your life, our lives, of life as a whole.