The Human Capacity for Love

I think that regardless of whether or not others are willing to admit it, people get into relationships, choose to love romantically and feel the need to be in a relationship because it does something for them. They do it to fill an empty space, whatever self serving, or altruistic space that might be, or even to just make life more interesting. The fact of the matter is that human love is conditional to varying degrees depending on the person. This does not make humans bad, or lesser beings. It is simply what they’re capable of doing in their current state, much like how your dog is unable to discuss politics with you.

I don’t usually talk about such personal matters, but recently a friend was interested in my philosophy/maxim on love and relationships. She had questions. She was asking because she knows me, and she knows I wouldn’t have a typical attitude on the matter. I just didn’t have a concrete answer for her, but I think I do now.

I was having a hard time trying to explain how I’m incapable of feeling love from people. I surmise that this is because conventional human love and my idea of love are not the same. When it comes to sex, I see it largely as a performance meant to satisfy one’s own physical or emotional  needs, and thats it. We attach things to this condition, like love, but that’s not love. As a sensitive person, I sense other’s need to fill some faculty. It can be some infatuation, some boredom, some physical interest, some area of their life. It is almost as if everyone is walking around with an empty cup, and trying to get someone they run into to fill it for them like homeless beggars. The way I see it, my cup is already full. When you have a full cup and are surrounded by desperate people with empty ones, you learn to become very protective of this cup. You do not want some energy vampire coming along and taking everything you worked so hard to make for yourself. That is what is happening when externally I am emotionally distant. I’m simply highly aware of a person’s desired conditions (and these vary greatly person to person), and base my involvement with them on this. To be perfectly honest, I believe that what I am can serve no purpose nor fulfill  any condition for anyone on this Earth, largely due to the ironic reason that I myself am complete and fulfilled with my own cup of love.

Having said this, I feel true love from things like animals and places. This concept is beyond what many can comprehend, but I also think there are many who can relate, and thats why I’m putting myself out there in saying it. In the case of animals, their conditions are a bowl of food and water, and company. Things that keep their bodies from dying. These conditions are so elemental that it feels closer to unconditional love. The mutualism that exists comes from a pure place. In the case of geography, it is an even purer form of love I’ve been able to experience. When I go to Fire Island, my childhood playground residence, I feel like I’m coming home to something I intimately know. For once, I get a sense of being seen, that something recognizes my true essence, not for any particular reason other than I’m there, and have spent a long enough time to leave an imprint on its surface, and vice versa. It is an equal exchange. I do not believe people are capable of seeing me in this way. We have not been equipped with this capacity for one another, yet…On Fire Island, there is a sensation of being held, and thats not something I know how to explain.

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How could one not feel true love from these things?

You may have noticed that this idea of love is purely platonic, and it is this that makes me question whether or not I identify as asexual. I seem to fit the bill in many respects, and right now that is what I’m calling it. But I’m open to being wrong about this, as well as being open to the idea that my condition doesn’t have a label or a name. Perhaps it is just how the unique expression of my soul manifests when allowed to be its true self.

Rebecca, I hope this either answered your question, or provided some sort of insight into my attitude on this matter. In the meantime, I am searching for better ways to explore this aspect of myself, and how to explain it.

Featured image by Anthony Garratt

Contact

A few nights ago, I awoke at two in the morning covered in sweat. Uncomfortable enough to do something about it, I went upstairs to turn on the AC and stumbled down the hallway, the urge to get back into my bed overwhelming as always. But this time, as I walked past the back door, I was abruptly drawn to go outside and look at the stars.

Despite the strong pull, I had to stop for a moment. Was it safe out there when I was home alone? It is easy for me to feel alone in the middle of the night, even with someone sleeping close by. What was lurking in the dark? Ever since a nightmare I had years ago of a mysterious, malicious man coming at me in the night towards my house, it was difficult to not be scared of being in that doorway, let alone walk through it.

Once I shook myself out of the dazed sleepwalk, I quickly became aware of how silly this was. It was a beautiful, clear night and I’d be a fool to not enjoy it, if only for a moment.

I sat on the deck stairs, the air soft from land that emitted heat of the summer sun. I live right behind a highway, and it had never felt as still and quiet as it did then. I could feel the world sleep, and for the first time it brought peace instead of loneliness.

Suddenly something caught my attention, a flash of light in my left field of vision. I turned towards it, thinking it was a shooting star that I had missed, and I saw it again, this time as just a flash. “Hi!” I called out happily. Right then, a huge meteor flew across the sky. I laughed with a giddy lightness, and smiled at the thought of a small, grey alien with those giant characteristic eyes casting a stone across the waters of Earth’s sky to meet my salutation. It felt a lot like Interstellar, when Cooper tries to deliver a message to his daughter across time and space through a medium that surpasses all realms of our current understanding. Whatever was out there, I felt warmth and company in the light-polluted dampness of night.

  Upon reflection of the moment, the feeling of soft support and company was strange, given that it was scary to go outside alone in the dark in the first place. Once coming back inside, I realized my basement was more spooky than my backyard. The yard had a horizon that I forgot about, a backdrop with pinholes of light from other worlds calling out. It was a cramped space that I hid in that made me feel safe. Outside, I felt love and wonder. I questioned if people would change if they were forced to sleep under the night sky again. It’s strange to think that although we’re afraid to go out there due to exposure, it is actually more embracing and kind than the box we keep ourselves locked up in for comfort.

Contact with boundaries internal and external are necessary, breaching thresholds that harbor love and wonder, the sky a symbol of the frontiers of our minds, our psyche. External boundaries may even mirror internal ones, and so crossing one reciprocates the other. As they say “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…”  –Hermes Trismegistus 

It is not just about putting ourselves out there just so we don’t excessively shelter ourselves. It is about making contact with the divine, whatever that may be for each of us. It’s about looking out and wondering what is looking back, and what they see. It is about feeling the softness of our frontiers, not just their occasional harsh, unforgiving nature. Despite whatever lies in their crossing, the ultimate is love and compassion.

I walked back down stairs to my bed, forgetting to turn on the light to the staircase, holding on tightly to the railing when I judged the last step. When I got to the bottom, I felt it level, and walked off onto trustworthy ground.

Perpetual Moment

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Heaven is not so much a place as it is a perpetual moment.

The air is somehow both cool and warm as I breathe the saline scent of ocean air into my lungs. There’s no one in sight when I scan the horizon, but I do not feel alone. In fact, I feel more accompanied than I ever have been. The sunrise is welcomed, casting slightly different shades of orange and gold than it did when it left the day before. I drift off into contemplation…

I’ve learned at a very young age that people can be an unreliable source of love. It’s not necessarily their fault, we are only human. Families move. People lose interest, find a new person, or new group to associate with. In the worst cases, some will even be subjected to their own mortality early on. It’s not complicated. Others are not always going to be there for you, whether they can help it or not.

I’ve also come to find that everyone has a different idea of loyalty, and that others won’t always try to see from different perspectives in the way I do. I’ve become accustomed to the fickleness of human beings, even learned to anticipate it.

However, it is true what they say: when one door closes, another one opens, and sometimes for a good reason.

I had a unique childhood, cast away on barrier islands on the south shore of Long Island. I was able to find love in the extraordinary, beyond flesh and bone, and I am thankful for it. I found love in the persistent undulation of the Atlantic. I found love not just in the heart of others, but in the heart of nature. I found solace in the relentless way waves crash and recede. I found it in the micro and macro cosmos of all things, both living and seemingly inert. I found it in the potential of a drop of salt water. I developed a deeper appreciation for the physical properties and processes that govern our world. I began to associate love with what was raw, and unseen, as I knew there was more than what my eyes informed me.

I’ve learned almost everything I need to carry on with life in the temple of nature, a perpetual moment of love.

The Landscape of Metanoia

I know the expression “old soul” gets thrown around a lot to explain those who seem wise beyond their years, but I don’t quite see it this way. For one thing, it has the connotation that these people are better than others, more advanced. This isn’t true and simply doesn’t feel right. Just as our human age is an illusion brought on by the sensation of time, I do not believe that our souls are any older or younger than one another, but that we are all in fact the same age.

In the same way that all the matter we see had a beginning, with its atoms taking shape and dissolving back into its rudimentary state, consciousness also had its spark of life that unleashed everything all at once. So what creates such a dichotomy between ignorance and wisdom amongst ourselves? How are the two able to exist simultaneously?

In order to explain this, I am brought to the landscape of Metanoia (for more information regarding this word, visit my About page). Just as the Earth has its peaks and valleys, there are highs and lows through this medium of experience that I am writing about.

As we began to travel, we all went separate ways. With different circumstances to face, ranging from troughs and valleys covered in vegetation, to mountain heights towering over all that is, a person is altered and conditioned. In some of these places, you might not be able to see the sky above, where your world is contained and dense. Like tunnel vision, all you can see is what’s immediately in front of you. In this sort of environment, the feeling that there is only what you see becomes very convincing. Naturally, the illusion begins to make more and more sense, and anything else a far off reality. When we no longer think that there is more, we get lost and prohibit ourselves from experiencing anything further. Generations upon generations of this can birth a sort of limitless ignorance that is almost impossible to escape. This is how false evils are created and perpetuated, delusions are free to run rampant, and people stumble farther and farther away from the truth they once knew.

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But with the landscape of Metanoia being as dynamic as it is, this is thankfully not how it is for every soul. Fields reveal a horizon that lead to somewhere, and a sky that offers the possibility of infinity. Those who find themselves in the ocean can see this sky as well, but must constantly tread water. Some struggle up onto hill tops and mountain treks, where the understanding of what everything is comes with complete clarity. There are brave souls, whom I admire the most and associate most heavily with, who are trapped under a dense vegetation, deciding to climb the tallest trees in order to get a better view, driven by the desire to orient themselves.

With the diversity of the landscape comes the diversity of experiences. What is gained is a unique mark, the fingerprint of the soul, and we are lucky for this. With diversity you can be sure that there’s an individual, or perspective unique to your situation, and thus has the means for you to get to where you need to go. It is as if you came upon a stranger who has traversed the section of land ahead, and can give you advice, or even a map. You can also do the same for others along your travels. This is why it is important to have such diversity and to understand that there is no one route, or one truth. This cannot be with the condition of the landscape. This is why we must embrace our differences, as long as it doesn’t hinder the journey of others, and encourages the trek we have ahead. It is both varying and unified, more connected than separate. While the paths intersect in some places, and diverge in others, they’re all headed towards the same thing.

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Photos credited to Daniel Ranger and Kathryn Beals 

The Obvious (but forgotten) Ways We Can Create a Loving Environment for Ourselves

In light of my previous post and the pending arrival of Valentines Day, I wanted to go into more detail about alternative ways we can incorporate love into our lives, without the help of others.

I’ve already mentioned how relying on those around us for love can be problematic. Chances are, at one time or another, you were either alone, or surrounded by people who weren’t providing the feeling of connectedness that you craved or needed. But there are many other ways to make life just as fulfilling without another’s assistance, which we sometimes forget with the hype of romantics and popularity.

1. Create 

This might already be obvious for fellow bloggers, who are already creating frequently and sharing it with the world. Its great to take pride in your writing and enjoy reaching out to others who were otherwise unreachable. However, it is still worth mentioning, especially with the multitude of opportunities out there that are often forgotten.

Buy a paint set, or a sketch book. Reacquaint yourself with the high tech camera you got for christmas but were too busy to use. Do some gardening. Bake a cake. If you’re like me, you have numerous recipes for dinners and deserts piling up and haven’t yet had the opportunity to try out.

I could go on…

Heres some motivation: Red Velvet Trifle Recipe , How To Make A Water Color Mug , DIY Herb Garden

You’d be surprised how much our creations give back to us in terms of happiness, knowledge, learning, overall well being, and ultimately love.

2. Sift through the impersonal and hold onto sentiment.

Whether or not it is solely due to technology (as it is at least part of the issue) I think it is safe to say that we hold a certain amount of detachment with one another in our society. The internet seems to do a great job at keep us from losing touch with everyone, or anyone, but also impedes our ability to make deep connections. Find a pen pal, a hand written letter has a vintage quality in the midst of our digitized existence.

Make dinner instead of eating out one night, and invite someone over if you don’t live with anyone. Host a movie marathon. Host a wine and cheese party. If you’re an animal lover, host a dog play date with your fellow animal lovers. If you’ve found yourself making less and less plans lately, get away from the computer screen (after you’re done reading this) and make time for it.

Also, don’t wait for someone to buy you flowers, take you out for dinner, or get you that gift you always wanted. Treat yourself from time to time, which leads to my next point…

3. Reward yourself

Whats the point of completing a to do list if theres no feeling of gratification afterward? Do this in what ever way works for your lifestyle. Even if the reward is small, it is better than ending the day with something other than the mere completion of a task.

4. If something makes you happy, even if its minimal, give it your attention and make room for it. Find beauty in simple things.

This can pertain to your physical environment, an activity, or really anything involving your emotional/mental well being. Perhaps it means having a collection of sea glass, hanging a tapestry, coffee in the morning, taking a walk to the ocean at least once a week. It will be different for everyone.

Do not let small pleasures slip through the giant cracks of your expectations.

There is a lot more to enjoy and to cherish than we realize. Its just a matter of noticing it.

5. If something is toxic to you, whether it be a person, a place or thing, don’t grant it your attention.

Life is too short to spend energy on something that will only bring you down and set you back from your purpose, which is fundamentally to be yourself (whatever that may be in your case), and make this world a better one. To do this, you must first become skillful at recognizing a toxic situation. I have a knack for this, but I realize that its not always easy for others. If it were, many of us would not end up in the circumstances we’ve been in or are in now. Once you are able to recognize whats hurting you, your decisions in eliminating unnecessary negativity will become much more effective.

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Romantic love is different and unique, but that doesn’t mean its more valuable than what can be attained from what already surrounds us.