4 Real-Life Quotes That Transformed My Views On Love

Occasionally I like to go to the digital altar of Google-YouTube, make a sacrifice of attention, and seek guidance from my favorite teachers - people much wiser, older, and transcendent than myself . It’s interesting, how I’ll have heard a quote year after year in passing only to discover its true meaning after a major life-happening slaps me in the face.

I’ve done a lot of growing up over the last few years and as I came to redefine my own identity as an artist and adult, I also came to redefine my ideas about love and romance.

I learned that love is not easy. That love is a choice. I learned that my capacity to be in relationship with others will always be connected to my relationship with myself. And that love can be so much bigger than the boxes we force it into.

My generation gives Disney movies and 90s sitcoms a lot of blame for creating unrealistic expectations and destructive norms around love, gender, sex, and marriage. If only we had listened to some of the alternative voices that have been speaking on it all this time, shedding light on a deeper, more universal truth. Here are a few of my favorites:

Love Without Labels

David Whyte (poet, philosopher):

Naming love too early is a beautiful but harrowing human difficulty. Most of our heartbreak comes from attempting to name who or what we love and the way we love, too early in the vulnerable journey of discovery.

We can never know in the beginning, in giving ourselves to a person, to a work, to a marriage or to a cause, exactly what kind of love we are involved with. When we demand a certain specific kind of reciprocation before the revelation has flowered completely we find ourselves disappointed and bereaved and in that grief may miss the particular form of love that is actually possible but that did not meet our initial and too specific expectations. Feeling bereft we take our identity as one who is disappointed in love, our almost proud disappointment preventing us from seeing the lack of reciprocation from the person or the situation as simply a difficult invitation into a deeper and as yet unrecognizable form of affection.

Love For The Right Reasons

Eartha Kitt (singer, actress, dancer, activist):

There is nothing more beautiful than falling in love, but falling in love for the right reasons.

When you fall in love, what is there to compromise about?

Yes, I fall in love with myself, and I want someone to share it with me - I want someone to share me with me.

Love Means Letting Go

Maya Angelou (poet, singer, memoirist, activist):

Love Liberates. It doesn’t just hold. That’s ego.

Love Liberates. It doesn’t bind.

Love says I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re ‘cross town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now. So I love you. Go.

Love Is Not Easy

Erich Fromm (psychoanalyst, philosopher):

Love today is a relatively rare phenomenon.

We have a great deal of illusion about love, as something one falls in. But the question is that one cannot fall in love, really. One has to be in love.

Love is not easy. All great religions postulate love as one of the greatest accomplishments. If it were that easy or as easy as most people think, certainly those religious leaders would have been rather naive.

What inspired teachings or life experiences have influenced the way you look at love?

I Am Not An Expert

As I begin calling in more consistency when it comes to sharing with the world not only my work, but my words, I feel compelled to put this out there:

I am not an expert.

I don’t really know how to be more productive or quiet negative thoughts.

I don’t really know how to beat your fears or thrive on this stomach-churning rollercoaster that is life.

I don’t really know how any of this is going to work for you in terms of personal success and peace of mind.

All I have is my experience - as I’m living it and creating it in real time. That’s all I got. That’s my gift with return receipt.

I am not an expert. I am an experiment.

ex·per·i·ment (noun)

a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact.

"I have tested this by experiment"

synonyms:test, investigation, trial, inquiry, demonstration; 

I am a series of hard tries and hard fails and second chance after second chance and hard resets of all the clocks.

It’s Groundhog Day meets The Matrix meets The Secret meets The Truman Show with a lot of improv in between.

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I’m learning how to hack this for myself - by reading, writing, thinking, and not-thinking.

I’m also learning how to cope with just “feeling.” And letting that lead me into just “being.”

Sure, I’ve got glimpses of change, blips on the radar, islands on the horizon that I’m semi-mapping out in public. Still, anything beyond that is a complete mystery.

True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know
— Confucious, apparently.

But hey, not knowing can be a beautiful thing.

And that’s no expert opinion. Just my experience.

Sober Thoughts: How Going Alcohol-Free Is Changing Me

It’s no new news. I’ve known for years now the benefits that come from drinking less. Boosts to my overall productivity and mood are a given. And yet still I manage to relapse into old habits, especially over the holidays.

That’s why January seemed like a good time to try an alcohol-fast again. With a handful of new year’s intentions surrounding my health and wellness, taking a break from the bottle was the logical first step.

To be honest, there’s never been a time that I couldn’t make justified for a drink. As an artist it’s easy to self-medicate with my friends. We take to drinking and other substances to enhance our creativity, cope with creeping instability, and to celebrate each other’s wins.

But to be more honest, I’m also aware enough to know when my drinking habit is starting to become more than a benign indulgence. Unresolved boredom, loneliness, grief, and impatience have all been great excuses for me to numb myself with an extra glass of wine after a session or a nightcap before bed.

On the 1st of the month I vowed that this time my break from alcohol would be different. I wouldn’t make any big announcements and I wouldn’t give it a cute name like “Sober January” (until about 2 weeks later when I finally gave-in. Who can resist a catch phrase?).

This time I wanted to make the decision devoid of drama.

And crazy enough, it’s worked. Although I half-joke about how boring my life has gotten as a result, I’m willing to bear it for the benefits.

Here are 30 things I’ve learned from 30 days of not drinking.

  1. It’s a challenge, but it can be done.

  2. A life change like giving up booze is often the catalyst for more change.

  3. Some friends and family members will be really supportive of your choice.

  4. Most will be indifferent.

  5. Others will see it as an opportune time to project their own doubts and insecurities onto you. Ignore them.

  6. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for how you live on the day-to-day. That includes those doubting voices in your head.

  7. You don’t have to offer someone a beer when they come over for them to like you.

  8. You can still go out to bars, brunch (meh), and house parties to socialize with people who drink. You just have to plan the non-alcoholic beverage you’re going to order ahead of time.

  9. Drinks for going out that lift my spirits without containing spirits:

    A) High-end ginger beer like Bundaberg or Fever-Tree,

    B) Bitters and soda* which has less sugar and is more impressive when you’re pitching to a bartender than ginger ale (this article explains why)

    C) Kombucha* (for lunch)

    D) Hot Tea (for dinner)

  10. *Yes, both booch and bitters have trace amounts of alcohol but it’s not worth keeping score here.

  11. You make your own rules to this thing. It’s your life.

  12. Get ready to be hydrated. Less wine, more water.

  13. Adding fresh lemon or lime goes a long way.

  14. Get ready for clearer skin.

  15. Get ready to have so much extra time, extra money, and extra thoughts. What are you going to do with it all?

  16. I found that channeling my excess energy into things like grocery shopping and cooking is productive.

  17. Writing exercises and journaling are another great way to channel that excess energy.

  18. A break from drinking is a great time to pick up an old book with new eyes.

  19. It’s easier to wake up early when you’re not hungover.

  20. It’s easier to work out when you’re not hungover.

  21. Hot Yoga is a great substitute for tequila.

  22. Missing out on happy hour is not the end of the world.

  23. Notice yourself trying to fill the void with other vices, like spending all the money you just saved. Don’t judge. Just watch.

  24. There’s no wrong way to sip a Perrier.

  25. You don’t have to demonize your past or hate on anyone else’s present to do something different with your future.

  26. When you remove a numbing agent like alcohol, you end up hearing a lot more of what your body has been trying to tell you this whole time. Things like, you’re sad, you’re anxious, you’ve got insomnia, or on the flip… you are the motherf***ing sh**.

  27. It will take time for the mental clouds to clear. That “aha!” moment is not exactly guaranteed.

  28. But when clarity finally comes, you’ll probably see it manifested as heightened creativity. After all, you’ve gotta be creative to solve problems when alcohol isn’t there to make them go away.

  29. Sober January may feel so good that you’ll want to try Sober February.

  30. Everyday is a chance to recommit to yourself and celebrate a promise kept.