Love, Actually?

Today I took a notion to look up love in the thesaurus; to investigate, inquire, elucidate, and perhaps pontificate on the kinds and qualities and misappropriations and justifications for using this word for a feeling. After all, it’s such a very big word. It’s so all-encompassing in fact, that these are the synonyms I discovered, some which are repetitive:

adoration, very strong liking, adulation, affection, allegiance, amity, amorousness, amour, appreciation, ardency, ardor, attachment, cherishing, crush, delight, devotedness, devotion, emotion, enchantment, enjoyment, fervor, fidelity, flame, fondness, friendship, hankering, idolatry, inclination, infatuation, involvement, like, lust, mad for, partiality, passion, piety, rapture, regard, relish, respect, sentiment, soft spot, taste, tenderness, weakness, worship, yearning, zeal

adore, like very much, admire, adulate, be attached to, be captivated by, be crazy about, be enamored of, be enchanted by, be fascinated with, be fond of, be in love with, canonize, care for, cherish, choose, deify, delight in, dote on, esteem, exalt, fall for, fancy, glorify, go for, gone on, have affection for, have it bad, hold dear, hold high, idolize, long for, lose one’s heart to, prefer, prize, put on pedestal, think the world of, thrive with, treasure, venerate, wild for, worship

Good grief, no wonder we might be confused!

Just as there is no manual that can assure we will be good enough parents, there is nothing that assures us success in intimate relationships, despite our best efforts or whether or not we’ve had adequate role models. There are too many variables in each human life to account for simplistic reductions.

If we attune to the din of an ever-present media (and heaven knows it has a very loud and persuasive voice), aren’t we all but doomed? This medium would largely have us believe in a romantic ideal. If we learn about relationship from script however, isn’t failure almost certain? How could one remain in touch with anything remotely close to who and what, in essence, we truly are? One might, for example, discover oneself compromised until the person that once was, that individual drawn to another in order to share this thing called love, becomes a shadow of what once was genuinely, unequivocally and delightfully unique. Resentment might cloud vision on both sides, as a future attempted as a couple crumbles to cinder.

If one expects another to fulfill an epitome, isn’t disappointment fairly certain? It takes a great deal of energy to hold oneself equal to another’s illusion. And there is no room for power plays when we seek equal footing; no room for pedestals in a long-term relationship. Living in close proximity to another helps clarify both one’s highest and basest qualities. Accepting this while being open and willing to grow with these painful realizations – along with the support and loving acceptance of another – can help both mature in unexpected ways.

What would we do, how would we present ourselves if tomorrow we and a lover parted? Would we go back to school, dye our hair green, get a full body tattoo or the job we always wanted? If the life we are living and the life we dream of radically diverge, we may have lost touch with the essence referred to earlier. Yet the person with the power to get life back on track lies within. If I live fully and make choices as though my life matters both independently as well as in relationship (meanwhile allowing the same freedom for my beloved), I am likely to enjoy and sustain a successful union. This seems to require many adjustments over time, and conciliation can be tricky. It cannot succeed with me losing myself to the needs and/or demands of another. It does require, however, that I learn to dance, and occasionally toes get stepped on in the process. I can groan in pain or realize the minor missteps. Sometimes both realizations occur simultaneously and it’s a split-second decision as to which is more important. However as I practice, I get better at knowing where these metaphoric toes are, both mine as well as my partner’s. As my significant other does the same, we deepen in love and understanding.

Of course nothing can be reduced to simple platitudes when it comes to human interaction. Yet it still seems that expectations regarding the nature of love, itself somehow requires the other to transport one into fantasy. And although this might be a welcome respite from time to time, I don’t believe it can sustain over the long term. While it can be dessert, the main meal or daily sustenance comes from consistently holding one another in a space of deep friendship and caring, of sharing a life best lived together. If it does not, consider the blessings inherent in solitude.



Nature does this,
splendiferously exhibiting herself
in out of the way places,
just because.

There is no hidden agenda.

Had my feet traveled another path
at that moment –
were I not attuned to nuance –
I might
have missed it.

Would it matter to the orchid?

2015-04-06 14.12.50


As a child in less than ideal circumstances, life was filled with dread and despair. Yet I always felt I had an invisible confidant in a faceless Creator – a sort of tabula rasa onto whom I could project all my love and hate; all the repressed passions I could not otherwise safely express in a world of chaotic uncertainties.

As I grew into adulthood with more than my share of unanswered existential inquiries, the one constant that brought me again and again into alignment with the only stable sort of inner calm I have ever known was my forays into the wilds of the world. It was and is there that I discover complete acceptance – blessings and beauty always exceeding expectation. It was and is there I return, again and again, for solace and comfort and the deep awareness that I am a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars [who has] a right to be here (The Desiderada).

Where is God to be discovered for us mere mortals if not right here and now, wherever we may be? To be doomed solely to imagine the numinous is a fundamentalist punishment I have long since cast off as a snake sheds its skin, leaving a hollow ghost body behind. Not in any way meant to diminish The Mystery that confounds even the most ardent quantum physicist or cleric, my forays into nature infuse me with grace in ways both profound and sacred, insuring my place in the scheme of things. The interplay of light and shadow; the fathomless eyes of wild creatures; the miracle of each leaf and petal draw me into a dance with life, itself. If repeated on a regular basis, a divine dispensation imprints itself on my very being, much like placing small hands into setting concrete. It is an imprint that is not easily removed, once fully cured.


All images taken on the Mana Road of the Big Island of Hawaii – copyright 2012 by Bela Johnson