Love Bravely

It’s a simple enough idea to say, but a little harder to live.  We spend a lot of time and effort trying to get people to love us.  We spend a lot of angst ruminating about how to be better, more loveable, more appealing… and we often worry about being found out as imposters and love slipping away.  We fear being used.  We fear being dominated or controlled.  We fear being betrayed.  We fear being abandoned.

But when we fall in love, be it romantic as with a lover or chthonic (I know it’s a pretentious word, but I just like the way it looks, it means relating deeply to spirits below the surface of the earth, in the underworld) as with a child, we are stirred in uncharacteristic ways.

Love can lead to desperation (and the fear of losing what we treasure) and clinging jealousy… which is destructive to that Sting-y “if you love someone let them go” (or is love a tiger that one must catch by the toe?).

In parenting, passionate love can sometimes lead to overprotection, over-control and eventually rebellion and painful rejection reminiscent of broken hearts of the past.  Sometimes individuation includes a child “breaking up” with mom or dad, maybe as teens, maybe quite a bit later down the line.

One reason we parents may love so hard and so tightly is in compensation for what we so longed for as children.  Sometimes we doth protest too much our love, compensating for underlying feelings of resentment or rejection.

But when we manage to love bravely, we are free.  To love bravely is to love the other so much that we consciously realize that we truly want what’s best for the other, want them to feel free, safe, happy and deeply loved (not possessed or constricted)—when we love so clearly that even if not being with us would make the other happy we would relinquish them to their happiness.  In parenting this is called launching.  In romance this might be called loving bravely.

One of the powerful things about loving bravely is that it empowers us.  It puts what we are in charge of (loving others) clearly within our selves, while relinquishing what we are not in charge of (getting love or being loved).

While loving bravely may seem daunting, it also empowers by clarifying that we have good love to give.  Therefore, in a world so sorely in need of love, a person who can love bravely will always find somewhere to spend their love.  Will it be reciprocated?  That is often a cruel mystery, but good feelings that last come more from giving love than from getting it; thus if we love bravely we heal and grow.  And if finding the “right” person to love can be like finding a needle in a haystack, loving bravely makes us into magnates rather than blind sorters of hay.

If the key to happiness is in wanting, loving, what we have right now, then loving bravely may mean loving the one we’re with, even if they seem to be sometimes less than lovable.  Fully embracing even a painful situation, especially one that does not seem to release us no matter how we scheme and wriggle to escape it, is sometimes the secret and arcane way to master and then transcend calamitous patterns.

Finally, love includes attachment and the shadow of this is always loss (unless our fantasy to grow extremely old with all those we love and then all dies peacefully in our sleep on the very same night comes to pass).  Therefore loving bravely, whether friends, lovers or children, means facing the very real possibility of not only rejection but also tragic loss.  We may all shudder to think of it, but that’s why we need each other, need community—to have a world to love no matter what that world appears to “do” to us.  When we love the world so bravely it seems to open up to us in strange ways.  Only when we experience our own epiphanies born of surrender to love in the face of pain, in the context of love that makes us crawl, do we soften enough to love bravely.

Do I love bravely?  Like Woody Allen once said, “Brave men run in my family.”

So, let’s dedicate today to trying to love bravely—and to loving each other when we fall short—in the service of love itself and all our collective children.

Namaste, Bruce

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3 Responses to “Love Bravely”

  1. Lindsey Says:

    Personally I think this is one of the hardest and most important things of all … and the definition of the kind of “true love” that we all should aspire to give to those we love most fiercely, mostly completely.
    But so hard. Because it requires the confidence, I think, that we will actually be okay without the person in our life, if the answer is that they should go. Or perhaps it’s more the knowledge that love can endure, presence can be sustained, even if they are not in our lives in a physical way.
    As always, thought provoking and beautiful, Bruce.
    Thank you.

  2. Beth Says:

    I absolutely LOVE reading your posts everyday. They so often speak directly to my heart. Thank you!

  3. krk Says:

    One of my favorite subjects. You speak of it beautifully. Thank you.

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