People practice yoga for many reasons. I am starting to think that mine was so I could give myself a really strong hug, every day.
A draft/scrapped stream of consciousness submission to a love book, which runs from grounded factual almost-narrative to ethereal, philosophical mumbo-jambalaya (I submitted another piece so just share this one in case anyone likes it–it’s a “true” story).
I guess if I were to sum up what I have learned in one sentence, I’d say this: love—I mean really loving—is inherently risky when you think of yourself as separate from its bounds (but my point with this piece is to argue with great gusto that you are NOT). There are so many other things you can say like “yeah, but there’s always another chance at love,” etc. But I want to focus on the perception of risk.
I want to drill deeply into the idea of risk, because it is by doing this that I feel I have learned to love more deeply than I ever thought possible. I have learned to move–or rather dig, like one would try to dig a tunnel through the Earth herself and emerge on the other side to, surrender, lie down and look up at the stars–through the risky stage into the more mature stage of embodying love more fully than ever.
These days, love, to me is not even a contract. It is a purpose and an impulse that is a highest birthright, a deepest refuge and an unlimited source of courage and power.
(One quick aside: meditation has been the key to me discovering and focusing on the concept of risk as a critical key to loving more freely and deeply. Sitting still on a regular basis kinda makes you brave like that.)
My story is grounded in the fact that about 12 years ago I left the comforts of my own culture to date, marry, divorce and again continuously date and have relationships with men from countries and customs quite different than my own. People ask why I have trouble going back to American men and I will say this: once a man from another culture stretches your perception of the way love can be, you have trouble going back to a more predictable pattern.
After my first breakup with a Turkish man, I was completely devastated. The idea of finding something like that seemed preposterous. So I lost hope. I met another Turkish man after that who showed a tendency to commit so, in one unconscious, default, fearful-foul swoop, I married him when he asked.
I loved him, but not in a way that was risky.
Not in a way where I felt I had something really to lose. He’d never leave me. Not because I was me, but because he was dogmatically locked in somehow. Marriage was more important as a container than as an experience and a daily stream of choices toward intimacy, organic behavior and interpersonal evolution vs. guarantees and automatic behavior.
I have not married since.
There was something so settling yet uninspiring about that marriage. We were together three years—two of which were minus any sense of physical passion given that there was only a modicum to begin with.
When I began practicing more yoga and moved us to another country, as a leading spouse with an overseas job, the shifts within me were too great. I realized I was stronger than I ever knew before and gained a sense of the fact that I could survive alone. I broke out of the marriage and into an international scene of men, many of whom were Arabs.
My first experience after divorce was with a Pakistani man, then an Egyptian, then a South African, then an Indian and then, for a year and a half, I settled down with an Iranian professor who specialized in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. We seemingly had a very nice run, but then one day, out of the blue, an expert at studying and testing the real vs. the artificial, he said he couldn’t be with me because I wasn’t Iranian. So many messages we humans make up to say a simple thing: my soul doesn’t run in parallel with yours anymore.
Needless to say the last five years of my life, post marriage and in the thick of dating, have been a character-building exercise. The breakup with the Iranian was especially disillusioning and yet profoundly sobering because he was a) the first person to ever break off a relationship with me and b) he retracted his love–confirming several times that he never meant the words he said every day until that point. The words “I love you,” suddenly became somewhat obsolete in their subjectivity.
Someone could get really jaded by all this–but I found it an opportunity. A chance. To get real.
When I look back, this was a massive turning point in my process to learn how to love more closely to what my ideals of the feeling truly are. The key word being: feeling. Countless memes, books and self-help guides circle back around the concept of loving yourself. But to really get down to this at the experiential level, for some of us, takes going through pain and loss.
These are the only types of experiences that we engage in to understand ever more deeply our ability to survive them. Some people may not engage so fully as try to medicate these sentiments. But when you engage them, when you burrow deeper and deeper into the pitch-black caverns of pain and loss, you start to notice a pattern that the more deeply you loved, the greater the depth inside you reached when these sentiments call you with them.
This is where risk comes in. When it’s real, when it’s deep, you know it can—and will, by death, breakup, circumstance, eventually—be taken from you yet you must proceed. Through the pain, this fact becomes matter, and the experience of your deepest levels come in so handy as anchor points for you moving forward.
Because you know, it’s going to get really dark sometimes, but you also know something more important—you will and do survive. This is the other side of the coin of loving. It’s a coin that is constantly rotating in the air if you can only keep your heart open.
Closing the heart–by either nailing down a relationship that may not be based in love or by avoiding the pain that love promises–will freeze that coin in mid-air. A dullness will take over your life. You will be an observer of love rather than a subject to its whims.
By nature, when you are separate from it, love is totally risky. Deep, true, honest, passionate and vulnerable love carries risk. Yet the fear of losing it is far greater a risk in the end. And even fighting that risk and defeating that fear cannot protect you from the pain of someone leaving your life. Still, what if you could see these situations from a different kind of dimension. A dimension where you are all one in the same and just moving in and out of these mirrored rooms and experiencing all these experiences and losing but gaining before losing again but one is related to the other?
In the end, diving in, pushing against all of your fears, against all the perception of what is gambled, means diving deep. And the deeper you go the closer you are to the wellspring’s source inside–yourself.
Once you get a load of that, it’s like you see this massive light on the ocean bed. Nobody else can see it. Nobody else can reach it. You know it’s your secret. You know it’s inside you. This light. And you just kind of shift.
Voila! Risk no longer applies.
Instead of tightly fisting the good and loving times, obsessing and over-analyzing how you can make them last, you open your hand and let them come and go. You are enough. You are love itself. As is everything else that makes that inspires that love to grow and expand. And as it expands you realize something—that everyone that ever loved you, every love you ever shared, EVERY EXPERIENCE WAS AND IS FROM THE SAME SOURCE. YOU.
This drops your shoulders if you let it. It introduces fear to its dead end, when you remember. If you return to this thought, really let it sink in, you begin to feel the futility of being anything but fear’s opposite: loving.
You are not threatened. You are suddenly operating from a center instead of reacting to external realities. You are highly mobile, never stuck, never trapped, never abandoned. YOU ARE LOVE. And you know how and where to move when you admit this–flow away from what is pain and toward what is joy.
If nobody is around to share it with, you are bathing in it–you find you have so much of it inside. You just do.
It’s time to stop getting so confused and distracted about the source of love–right behind, under, above your nose, 24 hours a day, every day of your life.
Acknowledge and fuse love as it is: the gift of life itself, coursing through you, offering you constantly a breath, a view, a sound, a taste of it. Poised and held surely at the very breast of life itself, you are life’s baby: alive, tended to, and if you should be open to it, loved.
Sometimes I drink my smoothie in the morning and imagine I am at the breast of the universe. Isn’t that weird? Well. It’s true and it makes me happy.
You woke up, you can read this, you have food to eat, you can interpret this with electric intelligence–when did you forget this meant that you are always, always, so, well, loved!
And from this place, the love you extend from yourself is like honey from a bee of your mind, flying flower to flower, processing experiences, self assured in its flight, landing, natural, purposeful. Being alive is a calling, and it’s enough.
Stop struggling against it by creating things you want that you don’t have. Just be … just buzz. Love is its own reward, a luxury, a risk, a gain, a loss, until you realize it is actually you. And the fibers of your being begin to insist on this. You start to realize you are gold.
You are pure gold and you deserve to be protected, cared for, respected, alive. Boundaries start forming around this, naturally and cognitively. You start to study, how to care for this love that is yours. You discover things that cause you to move toward or away from others, effortlessly, without a second thought … it doesn’t matter because you are and have enough: love.
And you don’t need to be around people who promise to be the source of that love and can’t. In fact, you just won’t.
Again, risk starts to reduce as a consideration, in a practical sense this time.
Finally, I will say it hurts sometimes. It does. Because, as the adage proclaims, change is the only constant in life. But that feeling you keep trying to avoid happens whether you engage in loving or not. You suffer less to understand how it works–that it is you at its source, that it is inspired and mirrored by others in a magical mix of ways, but to begin with, it’s YOURS.
Today, I have a lot going on in my private life and nothing at all. Depends on the day. Bottom line: I love myself, I integrate everything every lover, every friend, every family member, every ONE gives me that is good for me and throw the rest in the burning garbage can labeled “past tense.”
Risk is an invention of the mind. Love is natural, organic, resourceful–nothing experienced could ever be a net loss.