A few days ago I wrote about unconditional love, and a friend I respect and admire commented that too many people confuse love and feelings. He got me thinking about the topic of feelings, and how the relationship of feelings and love interplay with each other, so that led to the idea of following my thoughts on love with those on feelings.
Feelings are an integral part of being human. We all have them. Good, “bad” or confusing, they play a big part in molding our behavior and effecting the things we do each day. Things as small as what we eat, to as large as who we choose to spend our lives with are decided largely by the feelings evoked by the choices before us. We like to think our decisions are logical, but I would wager most life decisions are significantly more dependent on feelings than on logic.
Is love, then, just a feeling or emotion, or is it perhaps something more ethereal than that? Is the love we think we feel for a first crush a different thing entirely than what we feel when handed our newborn child? Part of another conversation with my friend involved words, and how they often are misunderstood, because they can be used in so many contexts and with so many different connotations. Certainly love is such a word.
My friend responded to my writing with his own thoughts that love is always unconditional, and cannot be restricted or labeled or categorized – and I agree. But how then does love relate to those feelings that so many refer to as love? Is what we “feel” for that crush a different thing than love? How about what we feel for our child, or spouse or a dear friend? Are those feelings not love? Yet certainly they are different than each other – the love one felt at six or seven for a classmate is not the same love you feel for your spouse or child. Many question someone feeling a deep love for an unrelated adult – and whether that is always tied to romance or lust. Is it not possible just to feel deep love for another – any other? Of course it is! But what do these examples say about love versus feelings?
Love is the emotion that is universal. To me, love is the underlying foundation behind all that we are. More simply – love IS what we are. In a simple world, love would be the only emotion we needed. But humans are not simple. We do not make ourselves a simple world to live in. In our world, feelings are not reflective of just one emotion – but are typically many emotions wrapped up together, alongside each other. There is love, and hope, and longing, and need, and anticipation, and so many other sorts of emotions that intermingle in most every human interaction. Our task then, is to strive to make love the dominant emotion, always. To sublimate all other emotions in favor of love.
When we are young, our emotions are at their purest. The love of a baby or a kitten is considered, accurately, as the most simple unencumbered love. As we grow, we hang so many things off of love. We adorn it with many bangles and bobbles that do not in fact typically enhance love, but complicate it, dilute it. Love should be pure and simple. Love IS pure and simple. Love IS rich and full and uncomplicated, unconditional, unencumbered. If we let it be. That is, to me, the ultimate task in life – to strip love of all those adornments, and just live in love.