Rethinking Love, or How I Learned to do the “Sexy Yes”™

Do you know what love is? I thought I knew.

For most of my life, I thought love is something I’d receive from the one perfect creature good enough to complete me. After finding and wooing her, we’d get married and provide each other with eternal escape from loneliness, unhappiness, and feelings of inadequacy.

Without a doubt, love was the antidote I urgently needed to find in the scavenger hunt of life. If or when I found that antidote, I knew I’d have to hold on tight for fear that someone would steal or dilute that scarce resource.

Is it love? (This is a piece of mine called “Chemistry”)

Given these beliefs, I naturally spent most of my 20’s hunting for love as though I was hunting for prey. With a judgemental lens, my eyes would sweep from girl to girl, quickly discarding those not worthy of attack. Negative thoughts like “She has imperfection X”, or “That booty is only a 6” debased the sacredness of countless beings.

Trying to find my 10, I withheld my love, and behaved like a 0.

Did I commodify beauty and love?

It wasn’t until the ripe age of 28, that I stumbled upon the seed of what true love really meant. Not surprisingly, I found the seed in a talk by Eckhart Tolle:

Love is to recognize the other as yourself.

Take a moment to soak that in.

Did you reach enlightenment?

Perhaps you’re thinking, “how is it possible to recognize another as myself? Everyone looks, thinks, and acts so differently from me. For goodness sakes just look out the window. Most of those people are freaking weird! (especially those hippy burner types)”

Freaking hippy burner types

Don’t despair. The key to recognizing the other as yourself is actually to change how you recognize yourself.

Most people recognize themselves by their egoic thoughts, their physical form, or even their karmic placement in the world. They fall into the delusion that a central decision maker in their brain is responsible for the state of things as they are. They give this decision maker, the ego, credit for gifts given by the universe, and blame for shit.

To love truly, however, you have to move beyond this egoic state and see the deeper essence of who you are. Eckhart Tolle describes this essence as Presence. Other words for the essence include awareness, or universal consciousness. My favorite framing is actually by Alan Watts, who states

“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”
“Wide Angle” — a piece inspired by this quote

Not sure what a state of Presence is? Find any gap between two thoughts in your mind. Like from now. [Pause 10 seconds] Until now. This is presence, a deeper, less reactive consciousness.

Directions to presence.

Within a few days of hearing the mantra Love is to recognize the other as yourself, I found myself at Burning Man riding to deep playa for a Robot Heart sunrise party, with the deepest part of my being fully rewired. I no longer saw others through a lens of judgement. Instead I saw the deeper beauty in their presence. I marveled at the unique mind and form of every human around me.

I also saw myself with new eyes. I embraced my imperfections. Yes, I’m imperfect. The present is imperfect. Everyone and everything is imperfect. It’s all perfectly imperfect! So there’s no reason to hold back love for fear of rejection because of my imperfections.

But beyond just changing how I viewed others, the love mantra actually changed how I danced! It inspired a new technique called the “Sexy Yes!™”. On the playa, I dished it out with reckless abandon to everyone in sight, irrespective of age, sex, or form (including to Paris Hilton lol).

To dance the Sexy Yes!™, do these 3 things simultaneously:

  • Make eye contact and smile
  • Mirror the other person’s dancing
  • Nod your head in affirmation

So simple, but so money! You’ll have to trust me. I left a trail of smiles in my wake all week long.

It’s so easy to love when you accept yourself and others as they are. You begin to realize that love isn’t something to hunt for outside of yourself. It’s actually something that flows out of you like an infinite stream of refreshing mist, hosing down dancing bodies.

Hosing people down with my stream of love

What a hippy right?

So now, one week after Burning Man, I decompress in my little NY apartment still reflecting on this love mantra. I hope the roots of the love I experienced grow deeper into my being. And I hope they spread throughout the world as human consciousness blossoms into presence and love.

There’s a good chance the default world will condition me back into a closed New Yorker. But at least now I know. At any given moment, by just returning to presence I’m capable of attaining the deepest state of abundance and love.

Love,
Tom

PS. I’m a not a wise man. This essay in particular is full of the ideas of Eckhart Tolle. Deep gratitude to that amazing being.