Because love recycles and re-circulates, there is enough in you to give some to this situation, even if you're looking for a way to end it.
Any situation in your life that ends before you come to love it, you'll run into again. Oh, the names and faces will change, but circumstantially you'll be right back where you were five or ten or twenty years ago, again presented with the opportunity to learn to love.
This seems counterintuitive because we think of love as the "tie that binds." Indeed, that is its role in strong marriages, parent-child relationships, and when an artist loves a project or an activist loves a cause. But love is also necessary when ending a relationship or leaving a position, organization, or locale. This is because learning how to love is the primary purpose for being alive and there is no way to make it an elective course.
Sometimes the lessons of love are easy to spot. Other times they're hidden in circumstances that aren't helping you blossom, that you really do need to leave or change. In cases like these, the last thing you're usually thinking of is how to love the noisy neighbors or the stifling job. It makes sense to think that if you came to love the situation, you'd attach yourself to it and never get out. Quite the contrary: until you love it, it's attached to you.
Oh, those neighbors may move and you can go to work somewhere else, but you'll one day find yourself in eerily similar circumstances unless you allow love to perform its function as intangible Goo Gone. When you learn to love through any experience, that experience comes full circle and you won't need to visit it again.
Two years after Patrick, my dear first husband, died, my daughter and I moved from Kansas City to the central Missouri Ozarks. The plan was to finish grieving, get my bearings, and figure out what to do next. I'd never lived in the country and didn't think I'd like it, but it was the best idea I had at the time. I made some wonderful friends there and my little girl, then six, took to the outdoors and spent hours in imaginative play by our rocky stream. Still, I didn't really want to be there so the idea of loving the place never crossed my mind.
When it was time to move on, the landlord from whom I'd rented for nineteen months refused to take my check for the final payment. He said that even though all my checks had been good before, I was moving away and if this one bounced, he'd have no way to get me (with a hit man, I was thinking). While I was trying to figure out how to come up with cash on a Sunday in a town with no ATMs, the landlord took his electric screwdriver -- I couldn't be making this up -- and screwed the doors and windows shut, taking hostage my daughter, myself, and the half-dozen friends who'd come to help us move. We had under ninety bucks as a group.
Then genius struck: who had cash on a Sunday? The pastor! The collection plate, tithes and offerings, "give and it shall be given unto you." I called the Disciples of Christ minister and told him that I desperately needed to cash a check for $267 and if he could help, maybe we wouldn't need to bring in hostage negotiators. He said he could do that, and an hour later my rent was paid in quarters and dimes and one-dollar bills. Upon our release, I said goodbye to our friends, put the three cats in two carriers in the backseat of the Toyota, and took off with my willing young companion for a new life.
But something wasn't right: there was unfinished business. That bit of drama with the landlord may well have been life telling me to come up with some love for the place I'd lived and appreciation for what it had taught me, or be "screwed" again in the future. But I didn't get the message.
Nearly two decades later, my current husband and I moved to upstate New York and I kept thinking, "This is so much like the Ozarks . . . Wow, they had one of these in the Ozarks . . . Why, I think I had to order propane in the Ozarks, too." Then I got it: I'd left my little rented cabin outside Camdenton, Missouri, without stopping to love the vast, placid Lake of the Ozarks and the breathtaking views of mountains so ancient they once dwarfed the Himalayas. I'd never thanked those woods and that stream for giving my daughter something I couldn't. And although I cared about my friends there, I hadn't loved nearly enough the way people I'd known only a short time had taken a rudderless single mom and her offspring under their wing. They got us through a very hard time.
Now I was back -- different zip code, different time zone, but the details were of little consequence. What was important was coming to love what this new place held for me. No one said I had to resonate with my non-urban environment, only to leave some love behind when I left. So I set to work.
What could I love? Well, I looked forward all weekend to the Monday evening stretch class taught by an ageless gazelle of a woman who was once a Balanchine ballerina. And I was truly grateful for the natural foods restaurant on the Village Green, the well-appointed fitness center at the edge of town, and the metaphysical bookstore with its sparkling lights and serene lecture hall. It was always a treat to stop in at the old-fashioned hardware store, the colorful produce market, and the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, where I could go any weekend to play with a three-legged goat or get an ear nuzzle from a steer whose enormity betrayed his gentleness.
As soon as I starting thinking about what I could love, I realized how much I did love. My life in Woodstock started to change at once. Our next-door neighbors who missed the city as much as I did moved back to Queens. A woman moved in who shared my interest in spirituality and world religions, and we knew immediately that we'd be soul-level friends. I started getting invitations to things and running into people I knew at the health food store and the farmers' market. Even more profound, however, was that bringing some love to bear on my life as it was and where it was initiated a healing in me that, like all love-based healing, was retroactive. It could go all the way back to the day I was screwed into a little house at the Lake of the Ozarks and heal that, too.
So: what is present in your experience today that doesn't fit with what you think of as a charmed life? What can you find in this place or person or post or dilemma that you're able to love? Is it the irony that you graduated Cornell magna cum laude and you're working a temp job that could be done by a German shepherd with adequate training? Or, in a marriage or love affair that went pickle-barrel sour, can you love the person for the qualities you once saw, the sweet times you had, the lessons you learned?
Because love recycles and re-circulates, there is enough in you to give some to this situation, even if you're looking for a way to end it or you're already out the door. If you can't seem to find this love in yourself, ask God for some extra and expect an answer to your prayer. When you have it, you can end a relationship without ill will. You can leave a job with the loose ends tied up so the next person can love it from her first day. And you'll walk away free and clear, today and forever.
Lucky charm: Start the process today of loving something in your life that you didn't think you would.
Author Bio Victoria Moran, author of Living a Charmed Life:Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day, is an inspirational speaker, a certified life coach, and the author of ten books including The Love-Powered Diet, Lit from Within; Fat, Broke & Lonely No More; and the international bestseller Creating a Charmed Life. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications including Body + Soul,Natural Health, and Yoga Journal. Her blog, "Your Charmed Life," is published daily on BeliefNet.com. She lives a charmed life in New York City.
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