Hard day today…
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-=[ Great Lovers ]=-
“Listen to learn and learn to listen.”
We all like to pay lip service to this thing we call love. We like to say the word a lot, for example, we like to say, “I love you.” We like to be loved – or rather to have other people say the word in reference to us (“S/he loves me”). I find that what we don’t like is the action of love. I hate to burst your bubble people, but Santa Claus doesn’t exist and love isn’t a feeling. Nope, love is a verb -- an action word.
One of the reasons I am so amazed at some of the shenanigans on the internet is that I find it hard to understand how people can get caught up in the illusory trap of “falling” in love with someone they’ve never met. I certainly can understand developing some affection and having a feeling for a photograph and internet profile, but falling in love?
In my book, that’s grounds for having someone committed.
Those who are “great lovers” know that within the framework of being in love there’s passion, desire, hope, wonder, appreciation, enjoyment, affection, ecstasy – the whole gamut of the most positive emotions and energy states. However, as I said before: love isn’t a feeling, it’s an action, an act of will. All the feelings in the world and $2 will get you on a NYC subway – which is another way of saying that feelings ain’t jack. Love isn’t texting someone a pic of your shaved vagina/ erect penis with the caption “thinking of you.” Love isn’t copying-and-pasting one of those cheesy email forwards to everyone in your Yahoo contacts. In fact, I would say sending me any email forward is actually an act of hate. However, I do appreciate photos of your poosie/ arse, so keep ‘em coming champ.
I’m somewhat kidding, but the point I’m trying to make is that when we truly love someone we extend ourselves to the person and for that person. That’s the act of love, or love action. It’s not clicking a mouse, or sending a text. Love is an act of will for the benefit of another person with no expectations. In more technical terms, when we love someone we extend our ego boundaries – close down our defenses – to include that other person as part of our identity. In a way, love impels us to merge with another individual, in the process creating an enduring bond. This is the part that scares many of us because severing such a bond can cause a lot of pain.
It’s the same when you experience a deep, knee-knocking, grand mal seizure-like orgasm: it’s a transcendent religious experience. All your ego defenses come tumbling down and for that brief moment, your sense of self expands to include so much more than the small, fragile, fearful mini me (ego). As a side note, this is one of the reasons why organized religions put so many taboos on sex, because ultimately sexual energy can be one of the most transformative, spiritual experiences.
But I’m getting off track here…
The first way, I feel, that great lovers express their love is through something simple and obvious. What is at the heart of the experience of love that's so simple, so basic that is so easy to bypass is listening – listening and attending. Sadly, at least in my experience, very few people attempt to hone their listening skills and at best listen at a very superficial level. There are very places that teach listening at deeper levels.
We are born to bond. Without bonding, infants literally wither and die. As adults it’s the same for us: without connection we die on all levels of our existence: physically, psychologically/ emotionally, spiritually. We are human and the defining experience of being human is bonding. We are wired for connection – we’re walking/ talking neurological feedback loops. We become human through bonding, and as adults, bonding doesn’t end. As we mature, we evolve to a stage where we can bond with a special someone in a healthy manner. This bonding demands we possess certain skills, skills that allow us to make contact, to establish relationships, and communication skills that promote understanding.
How do we do this?
The simple answer is by entering into our lover’s world. By matching and resonating with our loved one’s way of thinking and feeling, we begin to understand him or her. Empathy, a key emotional skill, is the ability to see the world through another’s eyes without losing ourselves in the process. This is part of the act of love -- or love action -- and great lovers fine-tune their empathy to high levels. On a superficial level, there’s listening, but at higher levels there’s listening in order to understand and that takes effort, time, and consideration. It takes a commitment to honesty and a willingness to become transparent (or translucent), so that the energy of love can shine through with as little distortion as possible.
Active listening is difficult, it takes practice. Like sex, it’s not a natural act, it must be practiced as you would practice a musical instrument. In my experience, too many people are too caught up in their small needs and neuroses to strive toward being a great lover. Most of us, it seems, would rather just sit back, send photos of our nether regions, and call that love.