Attached to Love
What do you really love?
Do you have someone you love?
Picture them in your mind, and in your heart. Do you know everything you’d do for that person? What are the things that you would do just for them — the nice things, the committed things, the sweet things, the painful things, the thoughtful things, and the difficult things.
Would you go to their favorite restaurant even though you hated it? Would you get them flowers every Monday, because you know it would brighten their day? Would you watch the baseball game at the stadium, because you know they love the experience of hot dogs and beer? Would you hike that mountain, even if your legs weren’t made for that trek? Would you be at every one of your son’s soccer games, even though it’s the client’s busy season? Would you give up your tradition of Chinese food on Fridays, because of their peanut allergy?
Given the millions of decisions to change, to adapt, to give — what would you do? How far would you go?
“To the ends of the Earth!,” you say?
For our children, brothers, sisters, parents, girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, and husbands; we would do it it all.
It’s painful to write this, as it’s like a thief telling a beggar how to make money. I write this in one of the most turbulent years of my life. I’m 32 years old, and for 32 years, I thought I knew who I was, what love was, and what love meant. I broke sacred vows, scattered promises, and often spoke vaguely of not knowing what I wanted. My problems, were all the attachments that I had — over commitment of career, expectations of marriage, and getting what was mine.
I believed in things that were not real. I did not know myself, and therefore I lived selfishly and dangerously. My attachments to what I thought I believed were not real.
What is real?
What do you really want from it all? What do you want from love? If you would go to the ends of the earth for someone else, what would you expect from them?
Do you really believe it when you say, that all you want is their love — and in return, you would love, unconditionally? Have you ever felt that you gave all you had in a relationship, and worried over trivial things? Do you love someone, or do you want something — have you ever thought the following?:
- It’s late? Why are they not home, is there someone else? I want them here, just for me.
- We’ve been friends for so long, how could they be hanging out so much? I want our friendship to be the only one.
- I’ve given my daughter so much, and this is how she repays me? I want back, what I’ve provided.
- How can my boss not see that I’m the key player to this project? I want recognition above my peers.
- How dare they speak to me like that. I want them to apologize!
- I made that dinner, so if you love me, I want you to do the dishes.
- I gave up my twenties for you, for us, I want the commitment I deserve!
- I’ve been there for you, I want you there for me, you’re responsibility is my sorrow.
In C. S. Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce, he describes a scenario where people’s ghosts have arrived in the valley of heaven. It’s made clear, that for entry, they must acknowledge universal love. In essence, love yourself, and be content with how others love you. Unfortunately, all the ghost remain unwavering in their own definitions of what love means. A wife expects her husband to acquiesce to her corrupt version of love, a man still expects his wife to love his sorrow, an artist expects all to love his work. Rather than accept universal love, or letting their significant others love in their own way, they reject all differences. They’d rather live in hell, then redefine their attachments to their own versions of love.
‘Friend,’ said the Spirit. ‘Could you, only for a moment, fix your mind on something not yourself?’
–C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
Without realizing it, we are conditioned, perhaps programmed to expect things from life — primarily love. Although, some would say in today’s society it resembles something a little shallower — fame and reputation. We expect love for love. A human being needs love to grow, as a reason to live, the love of others is what defines who we are, and the meaning in our lives.
The problem with conditioned love, is that it’s not the same as real love. We claim to have real love, but for most people, it’s really conditioned love — the attachment to a person, and the feelings they give back to us.
You’re attached to the return, attached to your loss, attached to the expected. To quote Anthony de Mello in his amazing book, The Way to Love:
And when you are depressed and miserable, the cause is there for all to see: Life is not giving you what you have convinced yourself you cannot be happy without. Almost every negative emotion you experience is the direct outcome of an attachment.
–Anthony De Mello, The Way to Love
It’s over simplifying love to say that real love, pure love, and unbridled love is one that is detached. Nor am I implying Nihilism, but what I am saying is that you have to detach from your expectations. Love is complicated. In my lifetime, I know I’ll never put pen to paper, and properly articulate love’s definition. The feeling is indescribable. But, if I were to write the path of love, it would be like this:
Know yourself. If you don’t, how can you possibly know someone else, how could you love someone else? Authenticity makes any relationship so much easier. Nothing to hide, there is only you. To paraphrase Kamal Ravikant in his book — you must love yourself like your life depends on it, always.
I don’t believe that anyone wants to have change forced upon them, but in real love, you’ll see things that inspire change in you. That change is never asked for, never expected. And in reverse, you shouldn’t expect it. Change is what’s required for growth, and many times change can be painful. Love can only grow with change. Without it, its fleeting, short term, not real. Hard conversations will take place, they have to — accept what is, and what isn’t. Detach from the attachment — your expectations. To really love someone, is to let them be free to love. Unconditional love for another, is wanting what’s best for someone else.
It can be simple, really. Let go of attachments. Love yourself. Accept the love in others, and nothing more.
In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Maybe we’re too used to that. Love is different. Love is when you are concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.
–Morrie Schwartz, Tuesdays with Morrie