This is the month when Cupid runs rampant and our ideas about love come into question. When you are a child you think love is getting a valentine at school from that really neat kid who sits in the desk two rows behind you. Then, as a teen, you think love is being asked to the dance or getting a “steady ring.” As you get into young adulthood, you may think love is about ownership, thinking exactly alike and finding the right mate to resolve all your problems. When you finally get to maturity, love really changes. It’s far less theatrical, comes with fewer spot lights, horns and dazzles, but, carries much more meaning and a great many more gifts.
Love is about being truthful, being really present and authentic and being willing to commit to something most of us have yet to create in our lives – honesty, solidity, sanctuary and grace. It’s about taking care of yourself so your partner is not grieved or having to spend time cleaning up the mess from your lack of awareness. It’s about telling your truth, being understood and risking the assumption that it matters, even when there may not be agreement. Love is about a willingness to disagree.
Mature love becomes more about giving than getting. Barry and Joyce Vissell, In Chicken Soup for the Soul, tell about a story of Moses Mendelssohn, grandfather of the well known composer who was short is stature and had a grotesque humpback. Moses fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful maiden named Frumtje, but, she was repulsed by him. One day he asked her if she felt marriages were made in heaven. “Yes,” she replied looking at the floor. And do you believe marriages are made in heaven?”
“Yes I do he replied. “You see, in heaven, at the birth of each boy, the Lord announces which girl he will marry. When I was born, my future bride was pointed out to me. Then, the Lord added,’ But your bride will be a humpback.’
“Oh Lord, Mendelssohn called out right then and there, “A humpbacked woman would be a great tragedy. Please, Lord, give me the humpback and let her be beautiful.” It is said, Frumtje looked deep into his eyes and was stirred by some deep memory. She reached out and gave him her hand and later became his devoted wife. Mature love is about being willing to be the humpback.
Love is about tooting together, talking together, tearing up together and trying to do it better together. Love is about listening, not just hearing. It is about believing not just endorsing. It’s about devotion, not just affinity. It’s about passion, not just fondness. It’s about soul deep connecting, not just sex. It’s about beingness, not just bodies. It’s about wanting those you love to be the best they can be for themselves, not just for you.
Mature love is a sacred thing. Some think it only comes a few times in one’s lifetime. I believe it can come to anyone who wants it badly enough, with anyone they choose. Real love should be in the middle of every relationship with have, with everyone we care about. Real love does not just happen. It gets created, moment by moment, day by day, year by year. Love is about your willingness to discover your capacity for forgiveness, compassion and integrity. It is created with respect for each others beliefs, with support for each others goals and with inspiration for each others dreams. It comes out of a willingness to stand together giving each other equal independence, as well as equal dependence. It arrives in the same moment your willingness not only to forgive, but also to forget arrives.
Love brings the chance to see each other as cherished and special, not just in the memorable moments, but also in the everydayness of being. Love means you commit to be at each other’s side in times of abundance and in times of need – in times of trying and in times of triumph – in times of illness and in times of health, knowing that these are the times of greatness and growth. True love brings the best opportunities for finding one’s Self.
As a community, it is time to raise the bar on this issue of love. It is time to rise to the challenge that has long been awaiting us and stop pretending that we don’t know what real love is, how it acts and what it does. It’s time to take deep breaths. It’s time to step forward, go deeper and realize the potential gifts love offers to each of us, both in the giving and the receiving. More than anything else in 1999, I wish each of you great love.
Dr. Dina Evan
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013