I was 9, sitting on the hill across the road from my Grandmother’s house. Shiny buttercups and puffy dandelions dotted the entire landscape, making the green grass all but disappear. Seeing the narrow hillside blanketed in yellow always made me so happy, like entering a magical oasis, separate from Grandma’s house, and separate from the day to day world. When I crossed the street, and sat quietly in a patch of soft petals and prickly grasses, I could offer up any question – and it would be answered. On this day, like many days, I discovered a white daisy growing proudly among a rebellious clump of wild flowers. I carefully picked the stem from the ground, and examined its silky petals. One by one, I began pulling and reciting out loud – “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me…”
My heart filled with anticipation about the possibility of love, and I smiled as I imagined the completeness of it all – that love would save me. In a way, I was right.
Like the simple childhood game teaches, I thought my love was tied to another person. You either love someone, or you don’t. You fall in love, and out of love. You are, or you aren’t. He loves me, he loves me not.
Is this how love is?
When I have a question about life, I always seem to come back to the same lesson I have learned from yoga – love is not either/or, love is a practice. Romantic love requires effort, even if I don’t want to believe that. I like the idea that true love is a fairytale – that it knows no time or space or obstacles, that it is easy and whimsical and always right. But the love most of us experience day to day likely requires a ton of effort – more than we thought necessary when we entered into it. Your love relationship needs to become a daily practice – and the more you practice, the better at it you become.
Love is also an agreement – between two human beings who probably need to love themselves first before loving anyone else. We expect the other person’s love to save us. We believe the other person’s love somehow has a role in whether or not we actually love and accept ourselves. Our selfish viewpoint of love comes from long-held beliefs like reciting the silly flower game – I will be complete if he loves me. I will know love when he loves me.
But what if it’s not love? What if the answer is, he loves me not?
If love exists, then I think our decisions are much easier. Truthfully, we’ll do anything for love – we sacrifice sleep and tasks and possibly our own values. If we’re sure of the love, then we’re willing to wade through the dark and messy when it inevitably arrives. Through the deep unknown, love carries us and holds us safe, and makes us feel like we’re wearing invincible armor – in that way, love does save us. We go into the black and scary places because we are so sure of the beauty that exists on the other side.
I think about my Grandma’s hill, and the flowers, and my desire and anticipation for love. And I wish the game would have gone like this – I am love, I am love, I am love… What a world it would be if we knew we already are love, and that we don’t need to rely on another person to experience it. What a world if we acted in love 100% of the time, and trusted that, even when we’re in the darkest places, love is still with us, holding us and keeping us safe. To choose love is to be love. And, in theory, it should be pretty simple, since love is who we already are.
Photo Credit: Samantha Davis Photography