Love is what matters to us most deeply. We all want to love and to be loved. We yearn to connect to one another. We want to make love, give love, and receive love. And when we feel its absence, all else seems kind of flat. True love, at its essence, is about acceptance.
We all have some ideas, beliefs, and imaginations conditioned to our early childhood upbringing of what “love” should be and of what relationships should look like, but reality defies us. We learn that things have their own “living” and ever-changing shapes. It is natural to want to categorize, label, and define everything, including human beings, because this soothes our fears and gives us a sense of control; because when something is “defined”, it is shaped in a box that is perhaps easier to understand or, at the very least, “see”.
But that’s not how life works. That’s not how love works. We are complex human beings, multilayered and impossible to live in straight lines or to ever be categorized; we are ever-changing and ever-evolving, as the souls of our feet walk our own unique paths, and the souls of our hands weave our own languages. And relationships are also complex; going through their own phases of harmony, disharmony, repair, where each phase carries its own beauty scent.
No matter how many years we’ve lived with someone under the same roof, we need to have the humility to accept that we don’t know everything about another person, because they too, as us, change and evolve beneath the shroud of their skin.
True love, at its essence, is about acceptance.
And the most important ingredient to love is the ability to pay attention.
A love that pays attention is a love that is alive.
Everything in life begins with noticing. Paying attention means putting down our phones, switching off the TV, and looking into each other’s eyes, unassuming that we know everything about our partner. Paying attention means seeing the fears and doubts behind our beloved’s smile after a long day of work and asking, “Tell me, my love, what’s going on? How can I make your day better?” We need to have the humility to challenge our own ways and ideas when new insights emerge and accept that we change; we need to rediscover, relearn, and readjust. Oftentimes in relationships, we give what we want to receive, rather than what our partner needs.
Paying attention means touching, holding, kissing, and caring for our partner, not in the way we always did, but in the way they need to right now.
To pay attention means that we love our partner and accept them as they are; fully accepting all of their parts, present and gone, shiny and dark, because all of us constantly change. It means that we’ll have to sit by their side throughout sadness, failures, and rejections. It means we’ll sit beside them and together, holding their hand, say goodbye to all their dreams that never happened and the people that they never became and their many selves that went away. And we love them still through it all. And we love us, too, the same.
Love that pays attention sees the beauty of our lover every single day and is responsible, responsive, and alive to it.
And when we pay attention, we fall in love all over again and again because we discover new shades in our partner, like art; we explore one another like a painting because there is always a new angle and a new shade that we might discover. And how beautiful it is to explore the unique changing world of another person? We can only love what we appreciate, and to appreciate takes time, effort, devotion, and acceptance.
We become artists, mystics, embracing the beginner’s mind; opening ourselves to our partner as if it’s the first time, with deep curiosity; reexploring and relearning the kissing, the holding, and the caring.
I want you to be.
I want every day for you.
I want every moment for you.
I love your being in and of itself.
I love the miracle of your existence in my world, in my life, as you are, as it be.
In an age where everything is becoming increasingly dehumanized; where people are separated and tempted into becoming non-people, soon to be robots or algorithms; and where even “culture and art” seem to diminish our life as opposed to enrich it, we need to remember how to love and the values of humanity and our humanness.
Our greatest adversary is forgetfulness; forgetting our heart, truth, and ability to love. No matter what has happened in our life, we all have, at least once, been touched by love, by tenderness, acceptance, compassion, trust, kindness, and generosity. It is love, and only love, that is the common denominator of everything. And when we realize the power that we hold to give another the safe space for them to just be.