Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
Joseph Campbell in his Power of Myth interview with Bill Moyers back in the ‘80s mentioned that the Greeks have three words for love instead of the one we use so frivolously: eros, philios, and agape. Eros, romantic and passionate love—I’ve had aplenty. Philios, friendship love—I’ve been blessed with as well. Agape, unconditional love—well, this is the Big One, isn’t it? It’s what’s left to our disposal when romance, companionship and affection abandon us, and when we unintentionally fail our friendships.
Unconditional love, to love without conditions. More precisely defined by Harold Becker, author of Unconditional Love - An Unlimited Way of Being, unconditional love is, well, an “unlimited way of being”. In his book, he states that:
"We are without any limit to our thoughts and feelings…There are infinite imaginative possibilities when we allow the freedom to go beyond our perceived limits…Life, through unconditional love, is a wondrous adventure that excites the very core of our being and lights our path with delight."
Although it may be easy enough to comprehend and appreciate the value of such a virtue, mastering the graceful practice of unconditional love while being bombarded daily by our perceived tribulations, well now that’s artful living.
I can appreciate that “love” is a powerful action verb not just a four letter word. We feel “moved” and “driven” by love. The joy experienced when surrendering to the act of loving, to the sharing in the oneness is like a succulent, sweet plum. The bitter pit at the center of all that juicy deliciousness is the worm infested fear that we may somehow loose ourselves in the process; that we might somehow fail.
Fear is another four letter word. But what is it really other than an emotional reaction to thoughts that we are threatened by? I for one know all too well the devastation my mind can wreck, sending serenity and sensibility to the winds blustered by all those “dark imaginings”. But, as I learned as a child, fears are just that—imaginings. They aren’t real unless I give them life, unless I allow them to rule the roost, crushing all my lovely eggs of inspiration. It really is true that we have nothing to fear but fear itself; that sucker’s a taloned beast unleashed.
The other day, I overheard someone say, “He tends to get in the way of himself.” We do that, don’t we? We are by far our own worse critics. We think, then over think things that would otherwise be simplistic. And, as if our brains weren’t writhing in agony already, we proceed to rethink that which is already over thought just for good measure. We muscle reason to death and while trying to control the outcome we have a tendency to suffocate life.
I, myself, have been victim of enough fear to strangle the best of relationships. I can now, for the most part, control my own reactions, quell my own demons, soothe my own wounded “inner child” as John Bradshaw once championed. I know this; I’ve done it. Doesn’t mean I don’t slip; I do. But, I’ve done it and know that it can be done. That knowing doesn’t ease the agony of helplessness, however, when it’s someone else’s monster trying to seize the reins.
There’s a reason we are so inclined to torture ourselves (and consequently each other) like that. We buy into the whole “I think, therefore I am” cognitive nonsense when it’s our hearts that know what’s best for us. Truly. With 30,000 neurons surrounding it, our hearts create an electrical field ten times stronger than that which is emitted by our brains. You’d think that would mean something. Seems like a no-brainer, literally.
For me, it is. There just isn’t any better remedy to quelling the beast, to quieting the agita than to love—to get back in The Love because it’s the antidote to all ills. That, and the Blues. A good long hike will clear the head, but its Marva Wright’s Wang Dang Doodle that puts things into perspective for me, that sets things to right. Puts me back in the happy place, no matter what and puts a smile on my face. And smiles, as well as the good humor behind them, go an awfully long way with this lass in evaporating all worry, all fear, all confusion. Smiles go an awfully long way.
Which reminds me that the Hawaiian greeting “Aloha” means—literally—to love is to be happy with. Now, if using that sentiment to say hello and goodbye isn’t a perfect example of agape in action, I don’t know what is.