When I say "before" I don't mean the time before this one ie I don't
mean the last time I was in love. I don't even mean the
time before that. Or the time before that. I don't even mean the
very first time I was in love (her name was
Désirée; we were both four years old;
watching her making farm animals with modeling clay across my
kindergarten classroom table, she was the most
beautiful thing I'd ever seen).
"Before"'s loaded implication is "an earlier time". When I say "I've
been in love before", I want to distinguish "an earlier time" from
something else much more profound. So I'll use the word "prior"
instead. When I use the word "prior" as in prior feelings, I
don't mean the great feelings of love I had at "an earlier time". In
this conversation prior feelings of love refer to the
capacity for love I have with which I was born. They refer
to the possibility of love which is here right now, and
which has been here since the start of Life. I'm speaking about the
naturally unfiltered, uninhibited possibility of being in love which is
prior to being in the world - like a
like a platform.
In other words, "prior" implies underneath or
behind it all. When I refer to prior feelings
I mean the great feelings of love I've got going on right
now underneath it all, behind it all. And even though the
great feelings of love aren't linearly underneath or behind anything
really (rather, they're non-linear experiential), to refer to
the great feelings of love as prior ie as underneath or behind it all
good enough for
At some point (I'm not exactly sure when) this naturally unfiltered,
uninhibited possibility of being in love was thwarted, disrupted.
Little by little, slowly at first, stretching over many false
conclusions and many years, I learned to hide my prior feelings. It's
not that I thought my prior feelings should be hidden.
Neither was it a prissy matter of proper etiquette - you
know, the British stiff upper lip sort of thing. It's that
I learned feelings get hurt, thwarted, frustrated if I let
them hang out. I was a smart child. It was an
"A-Ha!" moment. It was also a mistake. But I didn't get it
at the time. I was too young to know.
Now that I'm an adult, it's clear to me I made all that up. But as a
child growing up, I thought this is what one is supposed
to learn about the great feelings of being in love. I thought I was
very very smart learning the danger of wearing my heart on
my sleeve. I had no way of knowing at the time all I was doing was
adding layers and layers and layers of barriers on top of, covering up
natural love, the price of which I would pay with interest
later, once I discovered I'd obscured an access to
something critical to living a full life.
Obscuring the great feelings of love had become the norm, and with this
new found norm came distrust. Here's when the trouble really compounds:
when there's more time and effort spent protecting the
great feelings of love than there is in expressing the
great feelings of love. And the funny thing is at the time I was busily
building these barriers, living my life behind the dark lenses of hip
aviator shades, I thought I was being cool.
It's taken me a while to figure this out: there's really no
doing required for being in love. There may, however, be
un-doing required of what's gotten in the way of being in love.
What's gotten in the way is all that stuff, all that
cynicism I learned about love, all those filters and dark
lenses I've learned I need in order to protect my great feelings from
being hurt, my communications from being unfulfilled, my love from
The filters actually exacerbate the problem because they're based on
love being judged as valid only if it's incoming and only
if it's proved - witness the oft heard complaint "If she
really loves me, she'll prove it by doing ...
(whatever).". The love I'm interested in, the love at the heart of it
all is clearly outgoing love. When it comes to outgoing
love I, just by being here, am the proof. And again, love isn't
linear. Yet to refer to love as "incoming" or "outgoing" is
good enough for jazz.
Consider this: only someone who's overshadowed their prior feelings so
successfully they've lost touch with love as a stand, with love
as a way of being, with love as outgoing, in essence with love as a
gift would be overly concerned with requiring incoming
love be proved.
I'm inspired and excited by this idea. My prior feelings from
waaay underneath are intact. Buried, maybe, under a
mountain of judgements, incorrect conclusions, mistaken assessments
about what love is and what love isn't. But they're still here. And
they love to come out and play, just the same now as they did when
Désirée made farm animals with modeling clay in
kindergarten all those years ago. They're here. Beautifully intact.
When a situation seems to not have the right amount of love, or at
least not have it in the shape and form I
think it should be in, I've found out (strange as it may seem) it's
really got very little to do with what's going on now. It's
really got to do with what happened sometime in the past when love was
interfered with, when love was interrupted, when love was thwarted,
when love was let down, when love was unrequited, even when love
was betrayed. And it's the automatic reminder tobecareful not to get those prior feelings hurt again
(the purpose of which is clearly to protect those prior feelings) which
makes certain the uninhibited, unfiltered naturally occurring joyous
possibility of being in love can't come forth.
It's a vicious circle, a self fulfilling cycle, a self justifying view
of the ill perceived scarcity of love. Yet perhaps love
really is scarce when it's only regarded as something which
is received from another. Early on in this inquiry (which
I've engaged in for some years now) I hadn't yet figured out the
possibility of giving love as enough. That came later.
When I get underneath, when I get behind the erroneous view that
love is only real if it's received from
another and proved, when I get behind this quaintly false
hopeless view of love, when I get back to my prior
feelings, the plain truth is there's love in abundance. There's only
love to give.