Thursday, September 20, 2007
"I don't know if I know how to love someone..."
How do you love someone?
Well it's good if you're asking that question from time to time. It starts, I think, simply with a sense of chemistry. Doesn't it? So that's how it starts, and it probably needs to be running through - even if at an almost subliminal level - later.
As we age we become less sexy, but that can be a very slow process if we look after ourselves and each other; what we eat, how much we rest, how much we get up and go exercising. Alex was telling me that on the Sabie Tour there were 55 year olds keeping up with them. We climbed by a guy this morning who says he has been cycling for 20 years. So you need to maintain the same standards you had when you were young(er) and in love. That's for yourself as much as for your partner.
You love someone by staying attractive and being attractive in return. That's a work in progress. Yes, it requires effort! Nothing worthwhile comes without work.
And er...from there it becomes putting yourself entirely aside and having the need to give/love the other person without thinking of the cost/benefit to yourself. To the extent that you can constantly not think about yourself, that's how much you're actively loving someone else. And when we love and take care of others, we take care of ourselves.
If it's bothering you that your sense of 'love' or 'loving' isn't automated, remember, as you mature, that automatic engine of love (that creates so much energy out of the elixirs of love) starts to require more and more maintenance. So if you find yourself slipping out of 'falling in love' you're really facing Choice. Do I will this to happen now? Do I choose this? You're being asked to make a rational decision.
The Inner You
The 'in love' response, as good as it feels, is an illusion. Love is not automated. Some of it is, naturally, but the blood and guts of it is choice, and decisions. Is it for me or the other person? Do I sacrifice or not? Me or you first? The older you get the more it becomes a decision. But the extent to which you allow youthfulness into your life (impulse, spontaneity, enervated lifestyle, fun, innocence, silliness, friendliness) you can rediscover the inner you, the more beautiful and lovable person you are and want to be. And you can encourage all this in the people you care for.
For me the most basic wisdom to apply when it comes to choosing to love - to be with - someone is: does being with them make me a better person, and do I do the same for them? Respect is what drives this, and respect is essential for love. It is something like awe, except that it invites you to be part of it.
The last word I think is this: if you still feel you don't know how to love, imagine the object of your attention being you (and in a way it is). Love that person the way you would like to be loved: be attentive, listen, and give. Then see what happens.