Any relationship is like looking into a very obscure mirror. Any anger and resentment we feel toward the other person is really anger and resentment we feel towards ourselves. It this is a very difficult truth to see. We do not want to see, so we hold onto our resentments and our angers because we are not ready to look into the mirror. We turn them into stories to help us justify our actions or non-actions.
Why do I start off talking about angers and resentments when talking about love? Those are the things that come to my mind when thinking about love. Sure, I also think about those things which the diamond commercials, the car commercials, the wedding dreamers, the feel-good songs, and all those things we are traditionally told love is. But the angers and resentments are as much a part of the psychic bond created between two people as the feelings of adoration and tenderness. They are the much neglected flip side of love; the things we are told are the antithesis of love. I think if we really look where the anger and resentments come from we can see that they arise out of disappointed expectations about love. We tell ourselves that love should be this or that and when we don’t get this our that, we become angry and upset.
Love is not a word that tends to be used as a weapon or one that has been politicized as are many of the other words a write about. But its meaning is just as amorphous and symbolic. Its use in popular songs, poetry and film tends to paint a picture of something idyllic, something that we all crave, something that completes our lives. This popular imagining of “love” tends to inspire us and give us incentive to reach out and find bonds with other people. On the other hand it tends to create a deep sense of failure when we fall short of the idyllic “love” as imagined by popular culture.
Indeed, there does seem to be some kind of magnetic bond that forms between people. Often it feels magical, whether it is with a family member, a friend or a romantic partner; calling it love seems appropriate. But I disagree that the magical feeling is the ultimate goal. The magical part is an elusive and impermanent thing. Ongoing Love (my use is capitalized) is more of a process, a job, a duty and less of a state of reverence. It is normal and necessary for Love to bring out resentments and anger inside of us and it is normal for bonds to be broken and new bonds made as we change and grow older.
If consciousness is an awareness of the underlying duality. My use of the word “Love” is a longing for the duality to be joined as one. If we are conscious we are in Love. We seek life, we seek food, we seek sunlight, we seek water; we seek all those things that we don’t have. We are drawn to them as if by some magnetic force; “need”, “survival”, are only different names for Love. Of course, the word love is mostly commonly applied to human feelings toward each other. Imagine that human feelings are smaller manifestations of that perpetual motion machine which is the universe. The pulling of things apart and then the joining together again. Then Love would simply be the part of the cycle which describes the joining together again.
Living in a perpetual loving state would be impossible because Love is only possible with separation. The anger, the resentment those are the things which pull us apart and create the separation, making Love possible again. This is the test our relationships are constantly going through. We try to soften the anger, minimize the separation and bath ourselves in the feelings of love. It’s a great feeling when it comes to us but it would be a mistake to assume it is something we can grasp hold of and possess. It is a common theme in our shared stories; the songs, the books, the movies, news, etc, the fragile nature of love; “Love is a rose, but you better not pick it. It only grows when it’s on the vine.” We must content ourselves with riding the wave when the opportunity arises.
Surrendering to what life brings our way is really the only thing that brings us that sense of Love that I speak of. It is only natural to seek control, to want to avoid the pain, avoid the discomfort, these are very human things. Spinning our own stories is our attempt to gain control and protect us from our fears. We fear those things which life might bring our way, we want to be able to say “yes” or “no” to them. But it doesn’t make the stories “true”.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should all surrender ourselves to what life brings our way. I only state my personal observations; what paths our lives follow is determined more by our biology and our life experience not so much by our “will”, which are made up of those stories we spin for ourselves. We all like to create intellectual diagrams but we do not chose our own paths so much as our paths are chosen for us. I only ask the reader whether this rings true with their personal observations’.
What we end up doing is not so much driven by our choices but rather by that undercurrent of biology and life experience which creates us. We want to tell ourselves we can make our lives just like that nice picture we paint in our minds’ eye, but the reality is much different. This failure haunts us and brings us pain and that is where our anger and resentment comes from. Maybe I misquote, but I think it is a Buddhist truth that “all life is suffering”. This is what I think it is talking about, that never relenting tension which is life. Without being too attached to words, “life” can be substituted for my use of the word “Love” in this case; “all love is suffering”. That ever-present tension of the duality makes “suffering” part of the fabric of life.
That active half of the cycle of Love is the one we usually talk about because it is the half that our survival driven minds can relate to. We try to “win” someone’s heart and overcome obstacles, it makes us feel like we have accomplished something, like we have power and control over our lives. It fits well with the stories we spin for ourselves. We look outward and see object of desires all around us, and generally we choose one and work toward winning that person over. Sometimes we convince ourselves that that person is the only one for us – it is merely a self-deceiving story which does more to damage our relationships than to help them.
Love is amorphous and can happen just as strongly between people without physical intimacy.But physical intimacy does feel like a biological need that is strong in most of us. It is a very human need to want to touch, want to adore, want to be in awe, want an emotional connection with another person, these are all needs which drive our active half of Love.
But it is also very human to want to be the object of desire, to feel needed in someway or to just want to be the listener in a relationship. This passive half of the cycle of Love is willing to let go and find contentment in the separation. The anger and resentment- all those “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” that we let run rampant in our heads, making up story after story. These things are only our active halves fighting our passive halves. This is what I mean by looking into a very obscure mirror. The world must tickle us, we can’t tickle ourselves. Sometimes it just feels like something a lot worse than being tickled.