Jake (my son) walks in the door from babysitting down the street. I call out, "You are going to love your mama!"
"Why? Are we having pizza?", he asks.
I laugh, "Do I need to make pizza for you to love me?"
"Well........" Jake grins mischievously. Ah, my sarcastic humor has rubbed off on him.
Yes, we happened to be having pizza, and every time we do Jake touts his affection for me. If I make lasagna, he grudgingly comes to the table. Pizza results in extras hugs.
Now this is all in good fun, but it got me thinking.
What is love?
Why do we love?
How can we love better?
I've heard psychotherapist say "love is a verb, not a noun." That love is something we do. I know that when I act in a loving manner, my heart softens and I begin to feel more love. That is, it's not always the feeling that comes first.
For example, if I'm really angry at someone, I attempt to speak with a soft face and carefully selected words. In my attempt to get my point across without yelling or putting the other person on the defensive, I begin to see their side. They don't have to say a word, it's the softness in my own face and words that begin to open my heart to find more empathy and understanding.
With that said, I still yell--just not as often. When in the heat of the moment and anger or self-pity takes over, I feel disconnected from love. This is why I believe love is so important!
Love brings connection to our Self and others.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer speaks a lot on the subject of "loving better." Here is her famous poem, The Invitation. For me, these words describe real love:
The Invitation - by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty everyday, and if you can source your life on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon.
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.