NATHAN PILDIS — Staff Writer
With Valentine’s Day (Singles-Awareness Day) quickly approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to give my feelings on love. The Beatles said “All you need is love,” and I think that this is an incredibly simple, yet profound truth.
The Beatles spent much of their career pointing audiences inward toward their own source of unconditional of love. They were talking about a love that may seem foreign to most of us today because it doesn’t quite fit with society’s concept of love. Modern American society tells us that love is an emotion felt strictly for someone. Dating sites advertise, “find love!” As if love is something that is experienced outside of ourselves; as if love were hiding out there somewhere and if we look hard enough we will find it.
I am here writing this article to propose an alternate viewpoint. Let me ask you: where does one experience love? Inside of ourselves. Love is not out there—it is in here.
Don’t get me wrong; I think romantic relationships are a beautiful thing. They can be our greatest teachers. Relationships can be like a GPS that shows us a way to get to love. If our inner selves were like a road map, relationships would show us a route to love. It is the easiest and most convenient way to get there. Therefore, it is the way with which we are most familiar. But what if you don’t have a GPS? Then you can find your own way.
This is the route of self-love and gratitude. This is a love that does not rely on anyone else, but may be reflected back to you through others. This is a love that does not need to be searched for because it has always been there. We just have a tendency to cover up this purity with a couple layers of muck. These layers are easy to sift through once they are identified and observed. Then, we may feel our own source of unconditional love.
The first layer of muck is discontent; discontent with who we are or what we have. It is a feeling of incompleteness. We have been brainwashed as a society to search for wholeness outside of ourselves. Dating sites, Hallmark and jewelry companies want us to feel a sense of lack; a sense of incompleteness without a romantic partner. They want us to think that we will be deprived of love until we “find” it. Once we “find” it, we can buy their jewelry and sappy premade cards. This makes us loyal consumers in corporate America, as we buy and buy in an effort to feel whole. There is a reason it’s call “TV programming;” it programs our minds to be discontent with what we have. Consequently, we try to fill a bottomless pit with material excess and superficial relationships.
There is always more that we could have. We can choose to dwell on what we don’t have (i.e. a romantic relationship), or we can be thankful for what we do have (i.e. friends and family). Just like that, anyone can flip the switch. It’s amazing what we can take for granted when we get used to things. I like to start each day writing down people/things to be thankful for. I slowly read the list and breathe, thanking the universe for their presence in my life. It charges my heart with love. Later in the day, I mentally return to my list of gratitude for a recharge.
The second layer of muck is self-judgment. All too often, we think about what we are not, rather than who we are. There may be a critical voice in your head that says: “you should be perfect.” But what is perfect? It’s whatever you think it is, but usually we set impossible standards for ourselves.
I ask you this: If you weren’t meant to be you, then why would you be? This world would be a boring place if we were all Barbie and Ken dolls with IQ’s of 140. You are perfect in your own unique way, and accepting yourself is a choice that can be made at any moment.
Brushing aside the murky layers can take a little effort and mental discipline, but it is worth it. There is love within each of us and unites all of us. The Buddhists call it the Buddha-self, Christians call it Christ, Bob Marley called it “One Love.” Whatever you call it, it all starts with loving yourself. As the Buddha said: “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”