As the night comes to a close, in honour of Valentine’s Day, here are three quotes reminding me love and compassion go hand in hand, it requires a huge leap of faith and its reality is not free from conflict:
L’amour est une rose
Chaque pétale une illusion
Chaque épine une réalité
Love is a rose
Every petal an illusion
Every thorn a reality
♥ Charles Baudelaire, French Poet.
Love is an act of endless forgiveness; a tender look which becomes a habit.
♥ Peter Ustinov, renowned English actor-writer-filmmaker.
I think… if it’s true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.
♥ Leo Tolstoy, Anne Karenina – Russian writer, one of the greatest.
Love is the most important human experience, or so I’ve been told. I believe it. It’s grounding, it gives you a sense of belonging and connection. Yet life, with all its highs and successes; it also wounds and brings you down. Love steps in to soothe and validate.
I always tell myself, I have everything I need inside of me. I am complete. I need to look inwards to seek comfort, reassurance and wisdom. This is true. Self-love and self-acceptance are paramount. It’s a mandatory requirement, a precursor for finding the deep, soulful (and imperfect) love and companionship I long for. Self-love cannot be replaced. However, I believe it’s dishonest to think, self-love alone is sufficient to live a happy and full life.
Love is overwhelming and can feel all-encompassing but like Leo Tolstoy beautifully described in Anna Karenina:
I think… if it’s true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts
The nuances and variety, love takes shape, is multifaceted…
The Ancient Greeks actually had an interesting way of seeing love. They recognized a diversity of love existed. They had four (or more, depending on who you talk to) different words to describe the sentiment of love:
Eros – Romantic, passionate, erotic and intimate love, the sexual desire between lovers (and the love our modern culture is so fixated on, forgetting the other types of love that exist).
Philia – Friendship love, the ‘brotherly’ love between equals. The love we bestow on our friends.
Storge – Familial love, the instinctual, unconditional love found between family members ( between a parent and child, between siblings). This also includes the love for your pets.
Agape – Charitable, universal love, selfless love. The love of other beings, seeking the good of/in others. The random acts of kindness strangers gift each other. The thoughtfulness and consideration you display towards another human being without thinking twice.
This is a helpful reminder, love flows into our lives in many interesting ways and people. We all crave love, but it would do us well to reflect, not just on a day like today, but often to realize how plentiful the love in our lives is. Life sucks sometimes. It hurts, feels isolating and tragic. It can be a hot mess with no end in sight to the suffering but if we take the time to reflect and acknowledge the medley of love, different people in our lives bring, show respect to the community we live in and look inwards you will be pleasantly surprised. Good people are everywhere. No one is perfect but most of us mean well. Love is easily afforded when you open yourself up to it, aren’t a miserable human being and show kindness and compassion to others.
Love can be found in many easily accessible ways, not only through our romantic entanglements. Taking the time to realize this will pave the path for a more healing and satisfying existence.
I think about all the love in my life. It’s generous. Immediately today I can confidently say I love myself. This wasn’t always the case. I’m far from perfect, I bring to the table a number of vices but I’m a good person. I have a big heart and I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished over the years. I also know not to take life too seriously. Learning and growing from each experience and from each mistake. There’s a lot of self-love here now. Some days are still tough but I make sure I see through it. I have an arsenal of ‘tools’ to work with and it comforts me to know nothing in life (the good and the bad) is permanent.
The familial love I receive from my immediate family is unbound. I love my family, I fight with them and drive them crazy but I could never see a life without them. They make my life go round. That includes our yellow lab. He personifies pure, selfless love. No one in this world is as excited to see me walk through the door, then Uno, our gentle giant.
My closest friends have shown me love many times, both in times of need and on the regular. Making time for each other, to reflect, share an experience or just laugh over a cup of tea.
The charitable love, the kindness random strangers have shown me in both remarkable and very unremarkable ways over the years has not gone unnoticed. Being kind costs us nothing. It’s rewarding to see a smile slowly appear on an unknown face and be the cause of it. The kindness shown to a stranger, its effects are long-lasting when the experience is felt many times over. Compounded, this universal love instills faith.
The romantic love I have experienced has been both thrilling and inspiring but it has also been incredibly stressful and emotionally draining. The pain in it, I see I was partially responsible for inflicting. Still learning how to be more transparent and open. Romantic love is equal parts exhilarating and confusing.
Like all variations of love, love requires reflection. It calls for mindfulness and dropping of the ego. To build the awareness to act with kindness, curiosity and compassion. I regret nothing. When someone embraces you for who you are, as you are and in my case, with all my questionable and irritable traits, this acceptance is healing. I’m a better person for it.
Love exists in many forms and in many relationships. Sometimes we need to write long love letters to ourselves to remind ourselves of that.
Celebrate all the kinds of love that exist in your life. Tell those closest to you, who’ve earned a place in your heart, how special they are to you.
I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day. It feels like a marketing gimmick but I can appreciate what it stands for. Life is busy and we often get caught up in our daily stresses, forgetting to show our partners, and other dear ones some ‘love’. If we need to set one day aside to celebrate love, why not? Enjoy. Be merry. Share the romance. Be cheesy and have fun.
On that note, happy heart day today and every day.