I know that many people are focusing in on or thinking about the love of a significant other when it comes to the holiday of Valentine’s Day but I’d like to take a minute to check up on the measurement of love and how we quantify it or qualify it in daily life.
Sure, the love of a significant other can be a wonderful, mesmerizing feeling, bringing on an intimate exploration of the world or worlds and their depth that can exist between two people. Maybe you’re looking forward to a day dedicated to this kind of love, maybe you’re trying to avoid any thoughts connected to it, or maybe you’re apathetic. In any case, why not explore all the ways you can love in your daily life?
I’ll go first. This blog is dedicated to highlighting some aspects of love I found in my travels while I was studying and what I learned from these experiences. In the past I’ve blogged about love as the fountain of youth, on the nourishing power of love, but let’s look at love for all the ways we find it when we allow ourselves to see it.
I’m practicing walking meditation at 2 am and an insect the size of the palm of my hand almost flies into my head. (Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2010) I’m in the midst of the “determination period,” a challenge to stay awake for three days and nights meditating after an initial three weeks of days filled with meditation and this massive bug highlights the surreal nature of my experience. In avoiding sleep, I waver in between the line between sleep and meditation, in between the subconscious and the conscious. I get deeply connected with myself. Even more so, I find that there lies strength in the vulnerability that the lack of sleep in combination with sitting with myself creates. Vulnerability is strength and in being with yourself, whether through meditation or some other meditative practice you can tap into an expansive love for yourself and all others.
I look into the eyes of a mass murderer. (Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2010) Attending the United National Criminal Court Tribunal closing arguments for Comrade Duch, who was in charge of the main torture center during the Khmer Rouge Genocide in the early 70s, the seemingly grandfatherly nature and deep blue eyes of this man surprises and overwhelms me. His humanity, or my perception of it, astounds me as I’m sitting in a room full of people and amidst a nation drastically affected by his crimes. I believe that character is a choice and is a matter of pattern built over time. Love isn’t a word just like hurt isn’t. Love is an action. It is a choice that we make when we look in the mirror and when we turn to each other.
I’m walking out of a shop and look up to see a motorcycle colliding into a truck with one of the motorcyclists flipping 10 feet into the air. (Pune, India, 2010) Like everyone else, I run over to the accident. The people immediately around the unconscious man sprawled on the ground examine him, and attempt to provide what remedial care they can. Unfortunately, no one has enough emergency care knowledge to be of much assistance but an ambulance arrives to the scene shortly after. An entire community cared about a stranger enough to run over and take personal responsibility for his well-being.
I’m in awe of the grandmother toting her three grandchildren around in a bicycle carriage. (Copenhagen, Denmark, 2007) It’s the Queen’s birthday and I head over to her palatial home with several hundred Danish people to sing her happy birthday in the courtyard outside her home. In the crowd are people of all ages including a grandmother in athletic gear and a bicycle carriage full of young children. Biking is a significant aspect of Danish culture, offering health and environmental benefits. This grandmother is still an integral member of society, her wisdom from her years bestowed in her love, care, and guidance of these young children.
Some of these examples may seem a little extreme, but they are commonplace somewhere in the world. Likewise, we may have everyday experiences that to the foreigner would seem extreme. We have extreme opportunities, extreme conveniences, extreme everyday situations which highlight that choice between love and hurt, which provide another window for love to grow. When we break down daily life, this is one of the aspects that create the type of foundation we stand upon.
What’s there to love? So much.