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Love, Actually: Dialogue 1

I am a very smart cookie.  I have only been on this planet for 34 years and in that time I’ve figured out several of life’s indecipherable mysteries.  I have solved a few of those puzzles the universe throws our way simply to confuse us beyond our senses while it points and chuckles over in the corner.  For instance, I have already realized (and accepted) that no matter how much you love your chosen profession, you will still spend EVERY Sunday evening fighting depression, dreading whatever mayhem your boss snuck onto your desk as soon as you left the office on Friday evening.  I have figured out that even if you have the kindest, most supportive and nurturing mother, there will STILL be moments when you see her number on your cell phone and you will press mute, pretending that you involuntarily missed her call.

For all my enlightenment, however, there are still many things I don’t get.  Many mysteries in this life that leave me flummoxed.  Signs in subway stations that read: Northeast corner.  People who enjoy cleaning, cooking, doing laundry.  Algebra.  Living in Iowa, Ohio, anywhere in middle America, actually.

The biggest mystery that continues to elude me is this loaded word we humans call love.

For all I think I know about love, there are a host of questions that sit on my psyche as I, like most mortals, go about living a life in which I am daily faced with the challenge of loving.  So, what does it take to love another human being?  Do different genres of love require different skills from the lover?  Is love a passive emotion or does it require as much energy, as much determination as hate, happiness, anger?  Do most of us feel we have an adequate amount of love in our lives?

I took these loaded questions to my friend, Katrina.  Since she is an even smarter cookie than me, I figured she’d have something profound to say.

Katrina waxed poetic, explaining that even when she lacks romantic love in her life, she still feels surrounded by love.  I expected her to supply the requisite admonishment of confident single gals the world round: “I have my friends, my family…I have LOTS of love in my life.”  Katrina surprised me, however, by voicing an even broader view of love.  “The universe is full of love,” she pointed out.  She spoke of first coming to this realization when she went camping.  While resting in a hammock and gazing up at a tree whose bare branches blew in the wind, she realized the tranquil peace that she felt was, in fact, love.  “When I stop myself from being driven every which way by anxiety and worry and really just sit and look at a flower or even a regular ole tree, it becomes clear to me how much love the universe has at its disposal.”

Katrina is of the belief that we are all one with the universe.  Therefore, if there are copious manifestations of love in the cosmos, then there has to be just as much love (if not, more) within us.  “Some people see that love in the eyes of their children or they feel it when they are with their partner,” Katrina went on to explain, “but, I think even without such concrete representations, each of us already has love in our lives.”  According to Katrina, the only reason why many people don’t feel that love within themselves is because they either don’t know how or choose not to access it.

I’ve known Katrina for a very long time; I was not aware she was such an enlightened, thoughtful soul.  When I jokingly asked, “Dude, can I start calling you Buddha,”  Katrina blushed and waved off my compliment.  She explained that it took her a while to figure this out.  Like all of us, when she was in her late teens/early 20s, there was only one type of love worth thinking about: romantic.  There was only one goal: to get it.  There were many reasons you thought you wanted it, but after much self-reflection, it is now clear that the real reason you fought so long and hard for it was: you believed it validated you in some way.  “Friends had boyfriends.  They fell in love. It looked like fun.  They seemed so happy.  So, I wanted all of that, too.” Romantic love would give you a husband and nights snuggled next to him.  Romantic love promised you a life of less loneliness.  It promised you a future.

“I, obviously, don’t deny my desire for romantic love,” Katrina went on to explain.  In her mid-30s, marriage and family are very important to Katrina.  She does view her search for love a bit differently now, though.  Unlike when she was in college, Katrina realizes that romantic love has its limitations.  “Universal love doesn’t.”  When she contemplates this statement further, Katrina is able to express why universal love is really the foundation for any other type of love.

“Not only are we one with the universe,” she explains.  “Each of us is one with each other.”  I am not merely similar to the man who sits next to me on the train reading his book.  I am that man.  And that man is me.  According to Katrina, when we are able to tap into the love that exists within us, we naturally relate in more loving ways to the fellow mortals we encounter in our daily lives.  If we are unable to acknowledge this universal connection (love?), then how can we truly sustain love with a romantic partner?

I went into my conversation with Katrina hoping she would answer if not all of my questions, maybe one or two.  I went into my conversation with Katrina hoping to learn something. Oddly enough, the conversation taught me nothing; it really only confirmed the ONE thing I was 150% sure of about love: it comes from within.  Love, in its purest form, has little to do with the person whom we choose to love.  It has more to do with us and our ability to tap into what is the natural state of the universe.

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