Unscheduled time on retreat. We were mulling the statement: “Love is a choice, not a feeling.” We all weighed in. I shared my current thoughts: the limbic system functions to help us find the partner; attention, thought and choice help us stay with the partner.
Love is a verb. It is an ongoing action step.
In an interview with Carolyn Alterio, poet Li-Young Lee said that as a parent he felt he needed to act “as much as possible out of a condition of being totally present.”
This conviction embodies love as an action step. There are those who say that Love asks us to hold ourselves to the highest standard.
- Am I with you in body, mind and spirit?
- Do I understand that your experience matters as much as mine in this moment?
- Am I treating you with respect?
- Do I care what you say [even if I have heard this 10000 times before]?
- Can I count to 10 [24 times] before responding when pausing is prudent?
- Can I attend to the moment and appreciate the fact that I am with you? That I am doing something for and with you?
- Can I receive? [a compliment, a hug, help, soup, love, a push, constructive criticism]
Choosing to love puts me at risk for joy and loss, easy times and work, intimacy and more intimacy. There is the danger: intimacy and more intimacy.
- Can I let you into my space, my boundaries?
- Can I risk the consequences of loving you?
- Can I risk the consequences of being loved By you?
As you mull Love as an action step, know that perfection is not an option. None of us are capable of being present, of loving fully, during every single interaction. Life doesn’t work that way. We aren’t made that way. We can, however, strive.
After all, it’s the loving thing to do.