Songs, poems, movies, paintings buildings and lives have been built to celebrate the power of love. Often it is about our love for the “other”: a deity, a romantic partner, a family member, a leader, a friend or even a trusted animal. Very little in human experience has plumbed the depths of our collective soul and generated such a massive outpouring of attempts to describe that which seems at one in the same time to be both universal and indescribable – something completely understood in the roots of our shared experience yet inscrutable as to how to explain or articulate it. Forever inadequate to the task, we plunder forward, each new generation feeling as though they, for the first time, are feeling the exquisite pain, the longing and the joy.
The curse of humanity is that we are intelligent enough to be disconnected from our creator. We have brains with oversized egos and ideas that haunt our waking days with the realization that we are perhaps insignificant or meaningless. Yes, we can launch rockets into space but all we encounter is more soul-defying vastness that disrupts our perpetual desire to be unique, special and full of meaning.
I love love. It is the window to the universe and to all that fashions it.
I think that lost in the talk of love is the importance of its most essential building block- love of one’s self. By this I do not mean celebrating one’s ego, wit, beauty, or accomplishments. Self-love begins in the darkest places of our experiences. It begins where we find the tipping point between our best selves and our worst selves. It begins where the negative emotions of fear, shame and loathing cast their shadow. Can we love ourselves at the core of our most desperate liabilities?
Each of us brings our own wounds and insufficiencies to this life. Oftentimes our greatest strengths are just the B side to the Greatest Hits compilation of our greatest liabilities. It is usually just a matter of degree. We are bound to fail. We are bound to be undone. Can we love ourselves when our best and our worst meet in the exquisitely imperfect dance of our flailing lives?
People look for other people to love and to love them back. I’m not sure that effort can yield much success until you find the room in your heart to love yourself. It is the heart of it all. In your ability to love yourself through ups and downs, strengths and liabilities and you open a window to universe in your heart. Loving yourself in this warts and all fashion makes it possible and to love another with the kind of beauty and grace we wish for ourselves. Love yourself, truly, and then give that same blessing to the world. It is what life asks of us is we are willing to rise to the call.