Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Many Faces of Love

Why is it that so much of the human mind is busy searching for love, finding love, grieving lost love, praising love? Humanity is writing about love, composing music and lyrics on love, movies on love; love holidays, colors, feasts, stores, letters.

And the thirst is barely ever quenched.

Ten years ago, I got married, looking for love. Then I discovered he was looking too. Hoping to satisfy our hunger for love in each other's company, we ended up feeling even more starving.

Last week, my husband said to me: "It must have been quite the experience for you, moving from Romania to Israel, and finding all the new, exotic smells and tastes." I was blown away. In a rare and precious moment, my husband actually took my perspective. He empathised with me. He could actually place himself in my shoes and for a brief moment, he saw the world through my eyes. He saw what I saw. And I felt loved.

Why is it so mind blowing to have another put himself in your own shoes? Why is it that every time you hurt, you run to someone
else to say 'ouch', and every time you accomplish, or discover something joyful, you run again to someone else to say 'wow'? And when they look at you, and tell you: 'I can see, hear and feel your pain or joy', you feel loved. And when they fail to see it, and reject it, you feel lonely, disconnected, disappointed, and let down. It goes the other way round too: when you manage to deeply see into another's mind and feelings, it makes you feel closer to them, and loving; when you fail seeing, hearing, and feeling another, it makes you disconnect, estranged.

Love seeks communion. Love, this awesome, tremendous Kosmic force, plays the game of…well, Love. The game is: Love, as a force, needs an object, an 'other'. It needs a separate other it can commune with. It's the Primal Creator splitting parts of itself, through which it can see itself as itself; parts that go their separate ways until they find each other, commune with each other in and because of Love. Love makes atoms bind together in molecules; it makes molecules commune with each other and form cells; Love causes cells to commune with each other and form organisms, which commune with each other to form communities and so forth.

Sharing one's deepest feelings, concerns, values and ideas with others is a form of communion. Erotic embrace is a form of communion. Taking active part in fulfilling the dreams and goals of another human, or of a group of people, is a form of communion. And so are potluck meals – 'breaking bread' together. Affectionate touch – and any other expression that diminishes distance between beings, are forms of communion, therefore, expressions of Love.

Maybe this is why driving in Montreal and Israel is such a unique experience: everybody's tailgating everybody else, in a vibrant, hard-to miss expression of traffic communion!

I grew up in Romania, where sadly, to this day, the cities are filled with stray dogs. Travelling around I noticed that I could tell something about the people of a place, by the looks and friendliness of the place's stray dogs. In some places dogs are fearful and aggressive, shying away from humans, at times even attacking. These are the places where dogs grow up from puppyhood learning to fear man's angry boots and bats.

In other places, stray dogs look well-fed and socialized, trusting of people, and at times even affectionate. I've seen neighbourhoods 'adopting' such dogs, letting them sleep in the lobby of buildings, feeding them, taking them to the vet when needed; and the semi-adopted stray dogs look beautiful.

I think that any being that is loved and cared for is beautiful. My mother-in-law talks to her plants. She has beautiful, thriving plants. I think that merely declaring love is seldom a truthful expression of love; but deeply listening and seeing another; caring; speaking truthfully; actively engaging in other people's lives – all these are true expressions of love.

What is Beauty, if none other than looking at self and others through the eyes of Love? We may or may not agree about that which is beautiful – because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But there is something common among all things universally agreed upon as beautiful, such as Japanese gardens with cherry blossoms, or Mozart's music, or a bright, clear sky sunset in the sea, or the deep green of a luscious forest in the summer. What do you think makes these beautiful in the eyes of so many? Maybe it's harmony, a certain order that is a high-grade form of love. Maybe you can see Love in the industrial buildings of the city – and I know one talented painter who paints them with gusto – and maybe you can find Love in a bountiful, state-of-the art shopping mall.

And yet, when asked to relax and imagine a safe, sacred spot of beauty, nobody imagines himself or herself at the mall, or with machinery. Most people imagine a garden, or a beach, or a meadow in the forest.

Love thrives on closeness, on knowing each other; it thrives on harmony and order and on beauty. And when your arms and heart are open to all Love's expressions, you become as beautiful as a Japanese garden with cherry trees in blossom.

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