Love, Virtues

Some Thoughts on True Love: Guest Post by Adeeb Afshar

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{ This guest post was written by my friend and brother from another mother, Adeeb }

I felt it appropriate to write about love since Valentine’s Day was just last week. This is the one holiday that I actually loathe. Yes, I am being “buh humbug” about it because lately, I feel like love has been pushed to the point that now there is a price tag on it, that it’s expected of us to show something more on this particular day, whether its a gift or an act of declaration, or showing some kind of appreciation. But this day, to me, kills love.

I think there is a good divide of people who are either opposed to it, or who embrace it. But this holiday really makes me question what love really is, or how we all show it, define it, and feel it. This post isn’t meant to be a rant as much as it’s supposed to be a challenge: I want people to question their understanding of love, what it means to them, and how they show it.

Love Is All Around

Let’s take a step back for a moment and look at the world. Look at how many things are about love! Music, movies, books and stories, acts of service/volunteering. It’s the reason why some of us continue to go to our jobs, whether it’s for the job itself or that is provides for our families. It’s a drive, it’s a feeling, it can transform us, move us, make us do things that we would never expect.

It is the only thing I know that has such a tremendous power to create, or, when it is lacking, to destroy. It’s the only thing I know that can completely change a person’s character, or, when it is lacking, destroy it. Love is a power, and the only thing that stands against it, is, of course, our ego, the thing that drives our greed, our lust, our need for power, you name it. It seems like life is this ongoing battle between our ego and love.

And Then, Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a day meant to share this love between lovers, or family, or friends. While on the surface it looks pretty and beautiful, it has led to the problem of expectations.

Expectations destroy the meaning of everything in life. Look at how many fights, arguments, wars, and bloodshed have occurred because of expectations (not the only thing of course, but bear with me). Imagine expecting someone to conform to your beliefs, or imagine someone expecting you to perform certain tasks in the name of love. What about expecting a card, chocolates, or flowers on one particular day out of the year? What about the expectation to always be happy, or to create happiness in a marriage? And what happens when we fail to meet these expectations? Our ego comes out.

Love isn’t meant to have any expectations. Love isn’t meant to be held against a person’s will. It isn’t meant to be celebrated on one day out of the year either. We can easily have a long debate about what love is, but in all honesty, I think one aspect we can all agree on is that love involves choice. Love isn’t love if a choice is forced on someone. I cannot force you to love me, just as much as I cannot force myself to love you, or force anything on you for that matter. That’s where expectation comes in.

Right now, I want you to imagine someone you truly love, be it family or friend. What feelings arise inside of you? Excitement? Happiness? Calm? Joy?

Ok, now I want you to imagine your absolute favourite food, or song, or movie, or activity. Vividly imagine it. What feelings come up? Are they similar to when you imagine someone you truly love? Is it an excitement that you can’t wait to have your next cup of coffee, or you can’t wait to watch the next episode of your Netflix show? It’s a gravitational feeling isn’t it? Something that just… pulls you in. You cannot help it. You will easily make the choice to go towards it, no questions asked.

Now imagine that the next cup of coffee you drink doesn’t taste at all good (maybe it’s too watery, or tastes like dirt). Would you right then hate coffee? Yes? No? Ok, what if the coffee after that tasted even worse? Still yes? Still no? The coffee after that? And after that? Would you give up on coffee all together, or would you constantly chase down that perfect cup that you know is out there, that you’ve tasted it once before? For those who aren’t coffee addicts like me, substitute it with anything else you want. Some things you can easily let go of eventually after a certain number of times trying to find the perfect one. But for others, you’ll have a hard time letting go. What does this say about us? What does it say about our expectations? Is this why some of us go from lover to lover in search of that “perfect” mate? Or job to job? Song to song? Friend to friend?

What is it that we are all in search of? Perfection? That absolute perfect something? Why doesn’t anything fulfill this requirement? Anything material that is: why can’t I have the perfect wife/husband, the perfect job, the perfect life? What am I lacking? Why are my expectations constantly setting me up for failure?

Expectancy means that you are anticipating something, that you are excited and hopeful about something coming. Imagine that next cup of delicious coffee, or imagine that a good friend of yours is about to visit. There’s this sense of excitement and joy that isn’t forced or fake. Rather, it’s real and authentic. This, this is the beauty of life. That little feeling (or rather big feeling). This is when we start to see love at play.

But if I, all of a sudden, turned that expectancy to expectation—for example by expecting my friend to arrive by 7pm and no later, and that friend arrived at 7:01pm, making me incredibly upset, questioning my trust in their punctuality—then that’s where we go wrong, that’s where the problems start. Love cannot be defined by expectations, for then it becomes conditional. Love shouldn’t be confined to rules to be followed or ideas to be agreed upon. Love isn’t there for those reasons.

The Love of a Mother for Her Child

True love is, as many of us have heard, unconditional. To my knowledge, the only thing closest to that unconditional love is the love between a mother and child. Most mothers, I think, can agree that the moment their child is born, there is some special force, or union, that is also born between them. Instinctively, the mother will do anything for this child. She will protect, she will feed, she will provide, she will teach, guide, pick up after, and just continuously demonstrate this powerful love.

As this child grows, it will no doubt make a tremendous amount of “mistakes”. When it’s learning to walk, it will no doubt stumble hundreds of times. No doubt it will make a disaster of a mess when it’s learning to eat. That child will fumble with so many words when they’re learning to speak. Even more, when this child enters a period of their life that they can speak, they learn about what’s appropriate and what’s not. They start forming their identity. They start becoming independent, and before you know it, they’re in school, getting their first job, getting married, and then having their own children. All throughout this process, the mother’s love only grows. The mother, no doubt, has sacrificed so much of herself, her time, her interests, her desires, her needs, just for the happiness, growth, and love of her child. Just. For. The. Happiness, growth and love.


Expanding That Kind of Love

The question I have for you readers is this, and this is where I also challenge you: Why can’t this exact kind of love exist between every single person in the world? Expectations? Ego?

Why is it that I can’t just walk somewhere and be excited to see a stranger and know that this stranger has my best interest in their heart, and vice versa? That in fact, it’s not two strangers that are walking down the street, but actually two people who are potential friends? Why can’t I express this profound love, whether it’s through sacrificing my time, my interests, my desires, or my needs for the happiness, growth and love for another human being?

Why does my love for someone have to be a grand gesture only on one specific day out of the year?

Final Thoughts

Love shouldn’t be an obligation. It shouldn’t involves rules. It shouldn’t be used to force someone to do something they don’t want to do. Rather, it’s the fuel that leads us to choose to show our love to those we care about, whether it’s through words, through acts of service, through quality time, through gifts (like coffee) or affection. When someone truly feels loved, they will never question it. They will never expect from it. They will only be excited to be with you more.

If I love you, I need not continually speak of my love—you will know without any words. On the other hand if I love you not, that also will you know—and you would not believe me, were I to tell you in a thousand words, that I loved you.

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