I’ve always viewed February as the month of love. Whether it’s about loving oneself, a spouse, partner, parent, child or pet, being mindful of the importance of love is a vital life force. Many of us have easily gotten lost in the vortex of life and forget to honor ourselves and our loved ones.
One way to honor ourselves and our loved ones is to do some writing. Whether it’s in a journal or in a letter form. It’s a win-win situation. A letter is healing for the writer and the recipient. While going through some old computer files, I stumbled upon this letter written for myself a number of years ago. I reminisced about the power of love.
When I turned sixteen, our family physician handed me a copy of Love and Will written by humanist psychologist Rollo May. When I cracked this book open for the first time, I had no idea what the author was talking about. Chances are I was too young to understand, so I filed it on my bookshelf and forgot about it until many years later when engulfed with my doctoral research. I felt blessed to rediscover this gem.
May emphasizes how we all yearn to have a love relationship greater than ourselves, and most often to overcome loneliness. Sometimes, these relationships are long-lived, like in the case of my uncle who passed away after a 64-year marriage. Other times, the relationship is short-lived. As many believe, people come into our life for a reason. In all cases, love and eros are driving forces, and as Groucho Marx said, “Behind every successful man is a woman.”
Even though my husband is now retired, he did have a successful working life and of course I like to take a significant amount of credit for that, but I would also like to take credit for using my intuition when I felt real love entering my life. Many people do not believe in love at first sight, but as someone who experienced it nearly fifty years ago, I can tell you it’s definitely possible.
On the summer of my eighteenth birthday, my parents put me on a plane from New York and sent me to Toronto, Canada to work on their friends’ farm. After being introduced to the manager, who happened to be my mother’s friends’ son, (who is now my husband) our eyes met, and I felt a magnetic pull to another human being unlike I had never experienced before. It is difficult to describe exactly what drew me towards him. Luckily, he felt the same pull.
Chances are that it was a combination of factors – his strong handshake, his wise eyes, his big red afro, and deep sense of calm, as I came from a home which felt seemingly chaotic. His characteristics all made my heart flutter. It was as if my intuition stepped in and said, “This is the man you want to spend the rest of your life with.” Part of me did not want to acknowledge at the age of eighteen that it was time to settle down, yet another part of me said, “Wow, this is great, you need to be an opportunist and not let him out of your sight.”
After working for a few weeks in his father’s nursery, he invited me to accompany him for his summer holiday in the Yukon territory. I told him that my father would never allow it and he said, “Just wait. I’ll write him a letter that he won’t be able to decline.” Sure enough that’s exactly what happened.
We traveled for two weeks and then I returned home to go back to college. For the next two years we were in a long-distance love affair joyously filled with writing letters across the border. The year was 1972 and we are still together, three children and six grandchildren later. Like any long-term relationship, we’ve had our ups and downs, but our deep love for one another was the guiding force to keep us together through thick and thin.
The need to be loved is universal. There is a chance that my childhood family physician knew me better than I knew myself. More recently, I pulled another classic off my bookshelf on a similar subject, called The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm. This book also highlights the importance of love as the answer to the problems of human existence. I believe that to love another person, you must love yourself first, and Fromm supports this premise.
Love can be thought of as a higher power or a state you fall in and out of. Whatever your stance or belief, the concept of love most often elicits positive emotions and connotations. Ever since receiving my first love letter from my grade school sweetheart, I knew that falling and being in love can be life changing, eliciting powerful emotions such as joy and elation. There is a wonderfully indescribable feeling and sense of glow that emanates from those who are in love.
The fact is, love is an emotion that we seem to have little control over. It is either there or it is not. Yet love is perhaps the most profound, wondrous and complex word in the human language suggesting desire and interconnectedness. Love and compassion are at the heart of the world’s great spiritual traditions. Love is often said to be synonymous with the divine essence of existence and wellspring of all life or whatever name each religion gives to its highest truth. I believe that love is my higher power.
During this month of love, consider giving your loved ones some poetry, my collections (An Imaginary Affair: Poems Whispered to Neruda and Lust) are great, but there are so many others as well. Reading poetry out loud to one another brings people closer and provides ideas to foster deeper communication.
Happy Month of Love and remember that love makes the world go around and the Beatles had it right, “All you need is love.”
Do you believe we all need love? To what extent do you give and receive love? Have you written a love letter to yourself or someone else? Would you consider writing one?
Tags Finding Happiness