"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
How does this quote resonate with you?
[think about it]
This quote has been one of my favorite quotes about love for years. Instead of telling us to go looking high and low for love, Rumi empowers us to take responsibility for ourselves, and create an environment where love can flourish. Even more, I think this approach love infers that love omnipresent, and what's not to love about that?
When I say "love", I am not referencing the commercialized romantic love that is most often associated with Valentine's Day. That kind of love comes laced with expectation, and needs to be proven through culturally-specific predefined behaviors and the exchange of token material objects. It is love reserved for individuals in a specific kind romantic relationship, and exists in contrast to the dreaded status of being "alone". A life without this kind of love is seen as solitary, and that somehow, we deserve this solitary existence for not being "lovable" or "good enough". One might think, "I would find love if...", blaming their body proportions, their health, their bank account, their material possessions, etc. etc. etc., for the lack of "love" in their life. This thought process is destructive, hateful, and breeds alienation.
When we feel alienated from love, we are incapable of recognizing our own beauty, and the beauty of those around us. We lose sight of kindness and patience, and give in to anger, frustration, and sadness. These emotions lead to fear. Fear is the ultimate death of real love. Fear builds walls against hope, beauty, generosity, and all the myriad ways that real love manifests itself everyday.
Real love, in my opinion, is everywhere, and is accessible to anyone who is brave enough to see it. I see love in anything approached with honest intention. I see it in unexpected kindness from a stranger, in a warm embrace from a friend, in acting with compassion, in being fully and sincerely present with those around you, in sharing a batch of homemade cookies, or in being generous with your time and trust. It means having an open heart, learning to recognize and honor the emotions of oneself and of others. It means seeing past imperfections and flaws, and embracing true nature and potential. It means doing something because it feels right, not because you "should". It means setting aside your doubts and acknowledging how totally amazing you are.
[It's true, you know. You are. You are amazing.]
I think that it is much easier to live in fear than it is to live in love. Forces of fear work on us everyday through the news media, intolerance, hate, political uprisings, mainstream cultural entertainment, and commercial notions of beauty. Materialism and selfishness abound, stemming from fear of not having "enough". We are encouraged to compare ourselves to others, resulting in a fear that we aren't good enough. Learning to cut through the fearful messages and break down the walls takes hard work! It requires hope, courage, and an unfaltering commitment to to beauty within
I want to live a life of love, embodying the spirit of Rumi's wisdom. I refuse to be blinded by the barriers of fear and doubt and loneliness anymore. I want to have my eyes and heart open, share light with the world, and brighten dark corners of alienation. I want to act from my heart with sincerity and trust. I want to fully acknowledge that am an not alone or alienated, but have access to as much love as I am willing to allow for myself. Love is as vast as the universe.
Will you join me? Let's create a culture of love, together, with every thought, breath, action, intention, prayer, bowl of soup, and gluten-free muffin.
So, with that, I wish you a Happy Valentine's Day. And remember, I love you! Truly, I do. That's why I keep coming back here, after all.