Saturday, 5 May 2018

SQUISHY, MUSHY STUFF and all that matters

What exactly does love mean in our society? It is not the first time I have asked myself this. I am not sure if it a very useful question but I think it is worth asking, for herein hinges all of the ins and outs of life, and in my opinion, the meaning of human living.
Love starts quite suddenly, like a lightning flash. Sure, it builds from affection and caring in some cases. But when you know you love someone, it strikes you with the power of hormones. Our natural instinct says that we must love. I assume other species do too, and this is the glue that binds generations together, the stuff that ensures that our species and every other manages to subsist and reproduce. Call it survival instinct, or maintenance of one’s genetic material. I call it love. The knowledge that one must do something (or do nothing) for someone else in order to ensure their happiness and therefore secure our own.
After 43 years of living, I have come to the conclusion that this is my purpose. It is the only thing that has kept me from doing unthinkable things to myself, to give up when the pain of life was too great. It is what I have chosen to do as a career. I am good at it, at nurturing, and loving our earth, all its inhabitants, including humans, to a fault.
I do not profess to be an expert, but I plan to perfect the act of love in this lifetime.
I get up every day and do my job. I often question what the point is, and I know now that the point of it is to love.
Not wishing for anything in return, or expect to collect later, but simply to love. The more I do it, the more it replenishes, like a never-ending supply. My heart has expanded rather than shrunk. It fills with compassion for disadvantaged people, for people who do dumb things, and working on loving the cruel and unjust.
But does love mean giving only? When we think about loving people, we think about giving of ourselves, giving patience, tolerance, hugs, kisses, time, conversation. And this is generally seen as very noble and compassionate and it feels good, right?
But what about receiving? Are we necessarily taught to receive love?
To ask for love?
I don’t mean the pathetic “love me” asking. But the love that we give has more meaning if it includes a bit of selfishness. It is somehow complete then.
By this I mean, do we ever ask ourselves what the other person can give us? My job is very much one sided. I give, and in return I receive monetary rewards, as I have to eat and all that stuff. But I mean, what does the love that I give my fellow people give me, my soul?
The answer is, that as a doctor, very little.
I have to actively look for the rewards. Often it’s the warm thank you I get at the door, or someone telling me what a lovely doctor I am, or how nice I am.
It is “nice” to be appreciated that way.
But that is not love.
It is a demand, an expectation. I am “supposed” to be nice. Right?
Not that this is a bad thing, it's just my job, which I enjoy doing, but it is not love. 
So in my personal life I expect different love, the love we all seek deep down inside.
The love that says: “Hey, I do not in any way expect anything from you in return. I am giving this love to you willingly, without demands, without boundaries, and without resentment. I am giving this to you because it feels good to do so.” When two people can do this for each other, then love is clear, and simple, and unhindered by time, space and age, and all the other crap that gets in the way in this world.
I know I probably sound like some birthday card message right now, but I think realizing this has been one of the most liberating things in my life.
I don’t need to expect anything in return, but boy, when I get it, it feels so good.
And that I do, in small ways, from my family and friends, and my animals. We have so much to learn from them. They love us regardless of anything bad we do to them, and when we love them without expectation or demand, they reward us with insane loyalty and admiration that doesn’t go away just because we left a plate unwashed or forgot to replenish their water bowl one day….
If we just take the time to listen, and understand, then people reward us in the same way, and people often comment on the harmony between my animals in my home, and our ability to communicate in interspecies bonds.
And I think that is what love is.
No matter what, I will continue to look for that love in my life. Whether I ever achieve it with one person is so far debatable. But it’s worth searching for until I die.



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