It Must Be February

cuz everyone's talking about love. All different kinds of love. Lovers. Parents. Friends. And so I'll join in the fray.

I've actually been thinking about it awhile anyhow.

Of course a lot has to do with the BigMan, but some of it doesn't. My mind travels in circles, orbiting a thought, and so I often revisit the same thought but from different distances. It looks different from every side. Almost three years ago I wrote about loving freely, with no strings attached. That it's important to be able to love without expecting anything in return... but that the receiver of love has the responsibility of doing right by that love.

I've been thinking about that post again, because I realize that it can be quite comfortable to love without expecting anything in return. It's easy, really. The joke of it is, people are SO afraid to love without expectation. They think they can be hurt.

But I realized quite the opposite is true. You really can't be hurt when you love without expectations. You are the one in control. People who think they will be hurt loving freely haven't really given up the expectation of love in return. When you REALLY don't care whether you get it back, you can go on loving and giving because you choose too. There is a strength in that... and some people can go for years only giving love. And while it's very important to be able to love freely, it is not the ultimate way to love. Because you do need it back. You SHOULD get it back.

Andthen one day someone gives it back. One day, someone tells you they love you, and means it. It can be a lover, a friend, a family member. Your child. And you realize that you are responsible. You are responsible to that love; to give it back, to treat it with respect, to honor it. You are responsible to care for it. If it has little idiosyncrasies or "isms", you have to become aware of them. You can't randomly and willynilly go around caring only for yourself. It's frequently a pain in the ass. You realize it's easier the other way; loving without the burden of having someone--a friend, a lover, a child--loving you back.

That's when you realize the true power of love... the hold it has on you. Because you ARE responsible, you ARE beholden. You can't just do what you want or put yourself first, can't just fulfill your own needs or desires if it will cost the love you have. And if you are willing to do that, if you find yourself willing to take care of yourself first, you have to be honest with yourself and decide if you really do, in fact, love that person.

Because the shitty part about love is that you will at times find yourself doing or enduring things you really don't want to do or endure. It can be as simple standing out in the cold misty rain watching a kid's football or soccer game. Or as big as keeping your mouth shut about something that shouldn't be said at that moment. Because of love, sometimes you just endure. But you endure because you want to.

The "enduring" can be tricky, though... you can find yourself enduring so much stuff you lose yourself. Sacrifice yourself. You think love is to blame, that you've loved too much. Lost yourself in love. But as I think about it, I don't think that's quite true. You can't lose yourself in love, in someone else, not if you really loved them. Because in order to truly and wholeheartedly love someone else, you have to love yourself first. Loving yourself is what allows you to love freely, powerfully. If you've lost yourself in someone, you never really had yourself in the first place.

Love dies, too. It's a myth that it continues on indefinitely. There's a country music song I heard recently that says you don't stop loving someone, you just start loving someone else. I had to mull that over for a while because at first I thought it made sense, but it doesn't really. You CAN stop loving someone. You can kill it, knowingly. You can take it out back and shoot it right between the eyes, and it will drop like a stone. Someone else can kill your love. You take a lot of crap from someone you love and one day you realize the love is just gone. Something clicks inside, and it's as if you can hear love take it's final, raspy breath. Or maybe you ignored it, or it ignored you, and without nourishment it withers and dies. You look at someone and realize it's just not there anymore. In those moments, you realize how fragile it all is, what a delicate balance exists in order for love to grow.

Trust and Respect. These two things must be in proportion to each other and to Love in order for love to survive. I have found this to be essential. You must trust yourself. You must Respect yourself. Love yourself first. You must trust the one you love. Respect the one you love. Love the one you love. And at the risk of being redundant... You must be respected. You must be trusted. You must be loved. It doesn't work any other way.

Like life, like the ocean or the moon or the tides, like breathing or living... those things rise and fall in proportion to the other, and the proportion can change, but it must stay at a constant. We live, we breathe, because there is a balance between the oxygen we take in, the way our blood moves that oxygen through out our bodies, and our hearts must beat regularly to ensure that happens... our heart depends on the oxygen that nourishes our organs that send that spark that keeps our heart beating that keeps us living, breathing. Sometimes we take love for granted, in much the same way we take our bodies and our health for granted, and something malfunctions and it withers and dies. There is a balance and an order that must be respected and maintained. Love has to be cultivated and cared for.

It's worth it to love freely. It's just as worth it to be loved, with all the responsibility that entails. The balance between the two, that's the part that's hard to get right...


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