I’m not talking about the kind of love that comes in passionate sweeping ecstatic bits. I’m not talking about the love that leaves us breathless with hormonally-infused and socially projected chemical responses that we’re doing something right. I don’t mean the love that takes us far from where we started, but that which brings us back, and that which acquaints us with who we are. Not the outbursts of passion that drive us to madness. Not the false pretenses under which we fall into believing we’ll never survive without someone– not the love we attach ourselves to for the sake of self-assurance. Not the feeling that drives us to the obsessive and compulsive withholding of someone, but the love that fills us up and lets them go.
Love someone genuinely. Love the funny little things about them. Reassure them. Let your time together be an experience, not a chore or a social staple proving your worth. Love is not within itself a nasty, manipulating thing, but we become nasty, manipulating people when we hold onto the kind of love that we falsely believe is the only way we can feel that sense of worth.
You have to love someone for who they are, who they were, and who they have the potential to become– even if you don’t always love all of those different people. Even if you don’t agree with what they’ve done. Even if you’re not sure about where they’re going. Love them because their souls are worth loving. Reach inside of them and make them feel. Show them the unhealed parts of themselves, and hold their hand while they start the journey to accepting them.
We think of love as though we are destined for a happily ever after, and that it’s only a matter of finding someone else to give it to us. Happily ever after will be infiltrated with illness, death, suffering, sadness, but also great achievement, excitement, adventure and growth. Love is the person you want to be next to you at your parent’s funeral, and who you want to vacation with in the summer. It is not the person who gives you a high. It’s the person who speaks to your soul without speaking at all. It’s the person you don’t know why you love, but you do. Sometimes, even, it’s against all of your better ideas to love them, but you do. Love without reason, and love without condition, is the stuff we’re looking for.
People do not come into your life to fill roles and give you happy days with flawless execution and tireless dedication. Love is a constantly flowing, understanding and patient equilibrium between two people who recognize in one another something deeper than that which they see in others. Learn to see love with your soul, not your heart, and give it from there as well.
Love someone with the same forgiving, honest, vulnerable rawness that makes you lose your breath a little. Love someone because they challenge you, and they make you want to be better. Love someone because their soul inspires you, not because you’re interested in the relief from loneliness and companionship they can provide. Anybody can do that. Not just anybody can show you to yourself.