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?