By Deb Avery
When we tell someone I love you what do we really mean?
Exactly what is this thing called love?
I have used this phrase many, many times in my life, with many people, animals and even places. Sometimes it’s my way of communicating the attraction, emotions and closeness I’ve felt with a person in my life; I simply wanted someone to know I thought they were wonderful—it was expressing happiness and joy.
However, at other times, I have to admit, there were emotions, ego and neediness attached to those three words. I longed to hear it repeated back to me.
There are so many meanings to this often-used phrase; sometimes we may not even be sure of the meaning ourselves. We simply want the other person to know they are special to us. Though, after years of discovery, both of myself and others, I have realized something precious about love: at its core, it’s simply a way of putting into words our wish for the other to be well and happy. That sounds easy on the surface, and to some it comes easier than it does for others.
The whole meaning of those three little words can change when our emotions and egos attach themselves to our love.
Poets and romantics know well the fickleness of love; and we all know that a lot of the time romantic love has more to do with how another person makes us feel about ourselves more than how we feel toward them. As long as things are going well and that person makes us happy, we feel good about ourselves.
Nonetheless, when something rocks our happy little love canoe or the ordinary day-to-day nature of life sets in and we find ourselves with someone who, like us, is constantly growing and changing and stretching their boundaries, love becomes a struggle. This is especially difficult if the two are growing in opposite directions.
This is where the essence, the core meaning, of love really comes into play: In order to truly love someone, we must want them to be happy. We wish them all the best in their lives—even if it means they find it without us.
That’s the part most of us find difficult. It’s always the letting go with which we struggle.
At the heart of love there is always kindness, selflessness and compassion, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in our stories, our needs, we tangle them all up in our emotions and drama and we let it cloud our vision. If we step back and take a good look at our lives and those whom we love, we can see the answer is always there underneath the drama and emotion—the answer is as simple and as deep as love itself.
We must wish for others the joy and happiness we wish for ourselves.
This is the essence of love, whether it be romantic love, brotherly or sisterly love, or love of all beings. When we can wish for others to be happy without conditions, attachments or demands then, we have found the essence of true love.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak