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It can be found in some of the greatest songs of all time. It can be found in the holy scriptures. Perhaps a case could be made that it’s even written on our hearts.
We hold it on a pedestal. Because we’ve been told, from when we were young, that it’s worth sacrificing all else for. The movies we watch as adults communicate the same values.
Yet, love often seems elusive. And it seems to come and go. How can that be? Isn’t love the answer to all?
The Complete Non-Existence of Love
To embody the greatest truth would also mean to embody the greatest lie.
Because we live in a world of contrast, you cannot fully appreciate one thing (e.g. tall) without fully appreciating another (e.g. short).
Someone who says they love concerts cannot fully appreciate them without also appreciating quietness. I would not trust them if they didn’t also understand the value of quietness.
To appreciate love, to ascertain its existence, we would also need to confirm its non-existence. That’s the only way we can be certain about love. And that is a journey. A process. It may even take your whole life. It may not even be possible to understand in this lifetime.To appreciate love, to ascertain its existence, we would also need to confirm its non-existence. Click To Tweet
Most people will say they know love. They’ve felt it. They’ve experienced it.
The question is, have they experienced the complete non-existence of love? Because their conclusions cannot be fully trusted if they haven’t experienced the opposite of love, whatever that may be.
Because I don’t think we can say for sure what the opposite of love is. Is it hate? Is it isolation or loneliness? Maybe it’s anger. There’s no objective answer because there’s can’t be. Love is not objective (as you’re about to find out). Therefore, its opposite cannot be objective either.
Love is Only Within You
If the preceding struck you as abstract, then consider this.
Whatever feeling you’ve attached to “love” is only within you. You cannot find it anywhere else.
You may claim someone else gave it to you. You may say that your parents or your spouse loves you. Or, you may even say god loves you.
I’m not saying that’s wrong, but objectively, there’s no way to confirm that.
I cannot find love within any part of your body, let alone anyone else’s. I only know a feeling that I’ve sometimes labeled “love.”
And that feeling could have approximated peace, freedom, relief, lust, euphoria, or anything else, depending on where I was in life and what I needed most in that moment.
We cannot say for sure that someone else gave you love. We can only say that love was within you, experienced by you. No matter what person, event, or circumstance caused you to feel it, you only felt it because it was already within you. You gave yourself permission to feel what you always had access to.
The person, event, or circumstance was unneeded. You could have chosen to feel love whenever. But you didn’t. And you don’t. So, the people, events, and circumstances serve as catalysts. They were given to you as a gift. Reminding you that love is, and always was, within you and not outside of you, to be accessed whenever you desired.
The Ultimate Ineffable
Further, love is impossible to define.
Merriam-Webster alone has nine definitions for it, along with multiple sub definitions under a number of parent definitions.
I’m not saying there is no way to express it. That’s untrue. Because if we don’t have the language for it, its very existence must come into question. We have words for all that exists. But we also have words for things we cannot touch or find somewhere outside of ourselves, such as love.
In short, there are seven to eight billion definitions of love.
We can’t know how everyone experiences love let alone how they want to experience it. Can you accept that people don’t all want to be loved the way you want to be loved? Because what they want to feel, and experience isn’t gong to be the same as what you want to feel and experience.We can’t know how everyone experiences love let alone how they want to experience it. Click To Tweet
To assume otherwise is ignorance, arrogance, or an entitled sense of rightness. Wisdom can only come from complete humility and an acceptance that one knows nothing.
Remember – if you want to embody the ultimate truth, you must also embody the ultimate lie. Which means it can be as much of a burden as it is a delight.
Is Love Unlimited?
So, to say that love is the answer is an oversimplification of a much more complicated issue.
If you say you are going to spread love and be a beacon of it, that is certainly admirable and even noble. And it may even lead to tangible, positive results. But it does not guarantee that someone won’t be left out.
To give everyone love, you would need to first understand what love is to them. And be willing and able to love them in the way they need.
Which is why many rely on the divine. They say, “I cannot show everyone love. But I know god can.”
True, god can. But it must start somewhere. Even god relied on prophets, saints, and gurus to spread his word. If it does not start with you, then who will it start with? And how will it get there?
The answer is it will not. Because it did not start to begin with.
If you believe that love is unlimited, then you must also be able to spread it. Share it. And be willing to do whatever it takes to ensure everyone sees and feels it.
Impossible? Perhaps so. But how can you say love is the answer if you are unwilling to begin?
Losing Everything to Gain Everything
I am not saying that love isn’t the answer.
Then again, humanity has been around a while. I do not know whether it’s been 500 years, 3,000 years, or billions of years. There is no way to confirm.
But tropes like these (“love is the answer”) do not emerge out of nowhere. Surely, the prophets, saints, and gurus knew of love. And shared their messages with others. Perhaps more eloquently and poignantly than we ever could.
Which means this can be a cop out as much as an answer. It’s a good catchphrase to say. It’s a feel-good ending to a roller-coaster movie.
But it also means that we’ve tried love. We’ve done our best to spread it. To share it. To hold it up as the answer.
Most of us feel as though we would lose everything if we were to say, “love is not the answer.”
But that’s not true. The opposite is true – we would gain everything.
Because for once we would see what love is. We’d have found the greatest lie, and that would give us the ability to understand the greatest truth.
I do not know that love is the greatest truth, and I do not know what the greatest lie is. All I know is that to know all the nooks and crannies of love, you would need to know all the nooks and crannies of its counterpart.
What about those who are incapable of feeling?
To some, this will sound as though mere semantics in a much grander, more important battle. But it isn’t.
Because we know those who cannot feel. They do exist. And they sometimes do things without thinking, without the slightest sense of remorse for actions most of us would consider wrong or immoral.
How can we show them love? Is it possible? Would it ever “land” for them?
I am not saying do not love them. I am saying loving them in the way we generally think about loving others could be naïve. Harmful. Dangerous. We could put ourselves at risk.
If someone cannot even perceive love, how do we intend to show them love?
I wish there were a silver bullet. I wish love were it. If only we could solve all the world’s problems with love.
We must accept that we cannot. We must accept love’s failure. Because a new consciousness and a new solution can only emerge from the ashes of a failure we accept. If we do not accept failure, there will be no phoenix rising.
If we simply say, “nothing will ever be perfect,” then we were never committed to love to begin with.
Now you’ve had the opportunity to consider and try on the complete non-existence of love. But only if you chose it.
If you did, then you can begin to fully appreciate love.
“What? I thought this was a case for the non-existence of love.”
No, it never was. The non-existence of love is the strongest argument that could ever be made for love. But without embodying that, you are like an unattended helium balloon quickly rising and floating away.
If you’ve embodied this, then you can also accept the burden of love, which is perhaps more substantial than you first realized.
Love is not all unicorns farting rainbows. No, it’s difficult. Complicated. Multi-dimensional.
If you’ve ever loved someone, you know this to be the case. Because you’ve hated the very person you’ve loved. You’ve felt many emotions towards them. Perhaps every emotion possible.
We can say, “love is the answer,” mean it, and even embody it. But not without fully understanding what it entails.
It cannot be reduced to a mantra or a catchphrase if we believe in it. Love is a verb. No action, no love.
If you believe in it, do not let another day go by without expressing your love for someone. Let go of the empty mantra and get into action.
Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.