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Friday, May 19, 2017

Love is a Circle, not a Transaction

Love in its genuine pure form was meant to free us, not chain us. Love exists to be mutually beneficial, it's not a transaction. We live in a culture that is focused on consumerism. We're forced to keep it together at work, sometimes putting up with abuse from customers, and not letting our guard down. How we act because of consumerism, and how we act at work, unfortunately gets translated into how we love at home.

Consumerism teaches us that with anything we want, we have to pay for. And anything we give, needs to be bought. When we translate this into love, it becomes a back and forth transaction, instead of a freeing energy of appreciation of the existence of the subject of our care. When recentered, love starts with a genuine enjoyment of time spent with a person, of appreciating their existence, of wanting to help, and make the object of our love smile. Then when any of our gifts are given, and received, the giver is given the gift of appreciation, as well as a gratefulness they could help the person of their care smile. Love becomes a mutually fulfilling circle, instead of a back and forth transaction. There are no expectations, and no yearning to be paid back.

Expectations are part of the work place and society as a whole. We are expected to be on time, do our work, keep it together no matter how hard it gets, and then we expect to be paid. When translated to how we love, it just becomes another thing to check off our list, another way to "gain favors," so we can get something back. We have turned love into a chain of expectations, instead of the freeing, understanding, flexible, and mutually beneficial force it naturally is. But because we're human, and live in this consumerist realm, balance is key. We can't love if we don't love ourselves.

In order to love, support, and serve others, we must learn how to do the same for ourselves. And accept the same from those who love us. No man is an island, and we need community to survive and thrive. Consumerism teaches us that we are on our own to get what we want, and this becomes a lonely; difficult state of mind when translated into how we love ourselves and others. It's now self centered. Then there are those who are used to nothing and give all they have in order to be loved. It takes really getting to know, and loving ourselves—without the entitled fallacy that we have a right to everything we "pay for"—to truly love freely without attachment or expectation. We have to be able to fully appreciate a person for exactly who they are, not who we want them to be for us. That is just another expectation that will always lead to disappointment and isolation.

"The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them." —Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

Love is a force that frees us, upholds us, encourages us to keep going, and never give up. It can never chain us, or make us feel afraid. Let's offer this to ourselves and each other, and be reminded of its power, its peace, its comfort, and its inspiration to keep living life to the fullest.

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