Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Love defined

What is the true definition of love? I have a friend who recently explored the "14 Definitions of Love" and it was a fascinating study. But my question is, I think, a bit different. There may be 14 types of love, but what is love itself? How do you define it? It can be categorized as an emotion, a goal, a reason, inspiration, a physical act. It can be expressed in myriad ways. But love really defies definition... it exists in the nameless and cannot be grasped or molded. I think this might be the reason so many relationships fail. We are so very used to "having it our way" - we are a society of control freaks. Love cannot be controlled, plain and simple. It either exists in a relationship or it doesn't, and for humans that's just unacceptable.

Perfect love, in this light, might be the love exhibited by a dog to its human, and by this of course I'm referring to unconditional love. I know very few people who are capable of giving unconditional love, but for a dog it comes with the territory. Most dogs are programmed with a trust chip that only fails under the most extreme of circumstances. Yet we consider them far beneath us on so many levels. Personally, I think they're the species that actually gets it. I read an email (whether true or not, it still hits a chord) about a child who was mourning the loss of a canine pet. While the rest of the family mopped up tears this child observed that the reason dogs live so few years compared to us is that they don't need to live longer - it doesn't take them so long to get it right. We ought to be taking notes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not elevating myself in any way - I'm just as guilty as the next person. I have been cheated on often enough to be hyper-sensitive to deception of any sort, and I don't have a high tolerance level for dishonesty. I am afraid of being hurt, I admit it. Dogs might be, too, but they love wholeheartedly regardless... in some future life I hope to be able to set my inhibitions aside and love just like that, no matter what happens.

A good friend has a caption under her email signature that says (in part) that in the end we will preserve only what we care about. That's the other thing about true love, I think... its expansive, blind to prejudices and faults, embodies the spiritual. When I walk in the woods I feel love that threatens to burst the confines of my meager mortal body. That love is probably the most pure emotion I feel. Speaking strictly for myself, I wish I were a big enough person to express that kind of love in every aspect of my life. As it is this is only something I can aspire to - and I certainly do.

So, in short, I can't define love. I can explain some aspects of it, and aspire to a true and honest model of it, but I can't define it. Love is elusive, and yet it encompasses everything. Maybe as I grow older I will be able to incorporate more love and fewer conditions into my life. And yes, I am taking notes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I try to begin each day with an "attitude of gratitude."

For me this means not just being thankful for the wonderful people and circumstances that surround me, but actually allowing myself to sink into feelings of joy and appreciation for every bit of it. I am blessed to have a loving (if quirky) family, friends who enrich my life immeasurably, a soulmate, a deep sense of my spiritual source, passions, a healthy body, a good job...

It would probably be most beneficial to savor these blessings, to roll them around in my heart until I can't stop the wide smile that invariably accompanies the joy they bring, before I ever get out of bed in the morning. Being the night owl that I am, however, that is generally not practical. The first leisure time I have in the morning is during the commute in to work. As luck would have it, my 30-minute drive to the office is through a largely rural area. I regularly see Great Blue herons, Bald eagles, deer, Barred owls, fox, Red-tailed and Cooper's hawks. I pass through woods that are blazing with autumn color, laden with wintry frost, or swaying lush in a summer breeze as season passes to season. I slow each day as I pass a pond surrounded by trees, with a small ridge bordering one shore... the treasures I find floating, wading, soaring or sipping here are some of the greatest joys of my day.

All of these sights, mere glimpses into a world seemingly separate from me, only serve to expand the feelings of gratitude I have for my life, those around me, and the wild places of the world - even if those wild places are only miniscule pockets surrounded by a frantic human society. I know I am not separate from these places. And I revel in that knowledge as I begin my day with a true attitude of gratitude...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In the beginning...

I have been dreaming about writing again... I used to write daily and have strayed from that practice slowly over the past couple of years. And I miss it. I've always found committing my thoughts to paper (or the ether, as the case may be) healing, meditative, cathartic. I treasure my poems as though they were my children, which in some sense they truly are. But in recent months free time has become more and more elusive to me, so I'm grasping at a mode of communication I never thought I would use. A blog? Me?? Never! Well, I guess the laugh is on me!

My writing is largely nature-based. I write today of the snow lying thick and heavy on evergreen branches, glistening like a carpet of diamond chips on the trail before me... the sensation of fine airborne snow-particles breathed into my lungs and my spirit. I love snow. I've gloried in the recent snowfall here, but have been largely dissed by those around me. I suppose the previous weeks of bitter cold have pushed folks into an early state of cabin fever. But to me these days of snow and tempered cold are expansive, joyful. I can't stand in the woods at this time of year without wanting to laugh out loud for the sheer exhilaration of it! Feeling the snow falling lightly on my cheek, listening to the soft, slow rush of icy crystals brushing past pine needles. These times are ethereal and peaceful. Even the birds in their endless, and often vocal quests for food and territory are an integral part of this newly hushed world. I may be in the minority here, but I'll say it again... I love snow!

Until next time...