Limits of Love

Ever since I wrote about Love, I’ve considered the subject to be unyielding, limitless and infinite. I’ve felt it in the pebbles on the shore, in the relentless rush of a summer highway, in the songful forest breeze and in a bustling market full of fresh berries and hopeful tradesmen.

Love is everywhere. Everything that lives is loved and loving.

Yes, at times I also felt love’s flow diminish, seen it trickling down to a tiny stream. Alive, but empty, depressed and wondering.

Love should be everywhere and always. Why can I not access it?

Wheel for Love

 ‘Love has limits!’ The taxi driver exclaims on our drive towards the airport. ‘There are limits to what one can love! For example…’ he taps the black plastic underneath his fingers, ‘…I could never love this steering wheel!’ His hands grip tighter and he gives the wheel a wiggle, to prove his point. ‘Here is my limit!’

We had been driving ten minutes in silence and the randomness of his vehement statement startles me. Still, I give him my best serendipitous smile. ‘Why not?’ I ask politely. ‘I’m thinking it would be rather easy to expand your loving to your steering wheel. Isn’t it all day and often in your hands?’

‘Well…’ He stumbles a little in his answer and I can almost feel his mind expanding into possibilities. ‘Yes, perhaps you are right,’ he concurs. ‘There is more than one kind of love, I guess. But it’s not the love I meant.’

‘The steering wheel does not love you back? You can only love fully when the object of your love returns it?’

‘Yes, exactly!’ The taxi driver flares up again. ‘But people also don’t always return love either, you see? People have limits to their loving. Everything has limits!’

I shake my head in disbelief. Here he is, a random person challenging the one truth that I’ve been clinging to for months – that Love is in every single thing and is infinite by definition. Limitless.

‘Does love have to have limits?’ I inquire suggestively.

‘Love…,’ he ponders for a moment. ‘No, maybe love doesn’t. But it doesn’t matter. People have limits. Today they love, tomorrow they don’t. Fickle sort.’

Fair point. People can be fickle indeed. I know I can.

‘So in truth,’ I continue, ‘one should love the steering wheel when it works and also when it’s broken? Metaphorically speaking.’

He nods. ‘Yes. But people, people don’t do that, do they?’

‘No, I guess they don’t always know how.’ I have to admit. ‘Love may be infinite, but people are not.’

We arrive at the airport. The taxi driver turns around to look at me, all serious. ‘I don’t believe in coincidences, you know.’

‘No,’ I agree. ‘Neither do I.’

And I fly off to my sister’s wedding, thinking about people who love.

Day of Love

The wedding is marvellous. Tears-mishaps-friends-and-family-bonding-magnificence. The union of my sister and now brother-in-law has often seemed like one of those against-all-odd’s wonders. I’ve done more than my fair share of head-shaking during their long and tenuous courtship.

At the wedding speeches, I finally see it. This one un-head-shakable notion of ‘Deep down, I love this person, no matter what.’ No matter how much stress, trouble, issues, problems, struggles the other presents, that love is just there, flowing equally strongly between them. The bride and the groom. Equal and opposite, united.

Yes, I feel a little jealous. Looking at the couple during the reception, it hits me that I’ve never allowed myself to believe in this kind of unshakable, unconditional love, the one that survives all of life’s troubles. My unconscious understanding of human love has been conditional, transactional.

As I raise the glass for the newlyweds, I silently shake my head again. This time for myself.

I wish I had believed in this kind of love for myself. I wish that everyone could believe in a love like this. Especially the taxi driver and the people he spoke of. And I could name some others.

Where does the love get stuck?

Once the wedding is over, the answer hits me between my perfectly plucked eyebrows. Of course! My sister and I had a vastly different upbringing. Comparing our relationship patterns would be like comparing a cornflower to a space suit. Both are made on Earth.

I was born at the end of the Soviet occupation era, a life-transforming first child of two students just starting out their lives with hardly a place to live. Five years later, my sister was born into a well established partnership, a family with a home, to a fledgling independent country full of possibilities.

No wonder I’ve been feeling uneasy about domestic partnerships in my life and why it’s been relatively easy for her. No wonder it took us many years to even see eye-to-eye and truly learn to love each other, accepting and cherishing our differences and similarities.

I am infinitely happy for her.
Also, I have some healing to do.

Capacity to Love

We love the way we were – with the best of intentions – taught to love. But I can, we all can learn to love better and love more. To love the steering wheel even when it’s broken for awhile.

In my youth, I confused loving with getting my needs and desires met. When a dash of mutual admiration and a sprinkle of somewhat common values and goals entered the picture, and I went head over heels. 

There always came a point where none of that wasn’t enough. Where no amount of pretty words or shared meals could heal the rift between suspicious hearts. A point where the now notorious steering wheel broke down and crashed the ride.

Neither me nor my previous partners had enough capacity to sustain the flow of love when hopes and needs were not met as admiration plummeted and life took its own twisted turns…

And it wasn’t love’s fault. Love never left, just the hurt got too much. The steady stream of love trickled down, for our inner demons had not been taught enough discipline to keep it flowing.

As people, we all have some healing to do. With that healing, our capacity to love increases. Then the act of loving no longer needs to be a transactional tit-for-tat, but a delicious fuel for mutual growth and creativity.

This kind of loving could, quite possibly, save the world.

Wanting to Love

It begins with a simple desire to love. Both to feel loved and to bestow it, to love something or someone I consider external to myself and to open myself to receive in kind.

I now see it a similar process to how I wanted to love my sister and how she wanted to love me and how we danced this slow dance of wanting to the beautiful connection we share.

And I could see it in the taxi driver, who, for a brief moment, wanted to experience what it would feel like to love the steering wheel of his car. Still, he was taken aback by the belief that the object will probably not return his affection.

Sometimes when look at another human being, at a beautiful place in nature or a serene moment in time, I say to myself – I want to love this. Often I feel the people and the places reciprocate. For love is energy. All of all of us want this.

Wanting implies I don’t do it perfectly yet. That it’s something I move towards. That I’m in the process of healing and building my capacity. And that’s all right, I can have my limits. Human limits and woman limits.

Limits only I can stretch and distribute.

Limits of Love

On my flight back from the wedding – after having, again, accepted my own disturbed humanity – I develop a theory of why we even need limits to our ability to process and partake of the flow of infinite and omnipresent love.

I believe that for us to recognise the rush of love, we must also recognise what it is not. We need to take steps in the wispy spaces between, we need to sense how our lives feel without the bliss of overwhelming love. We need to be able to want to love, to have the freedom to choose it, to navigate and celebrate its wondrous drug-like glory.

Love itself is limitless, but people have limits. We can not swim in the ocean unless we separate ourselves from the water. We can not feel the rush of tides nor the plunge waves unless we explore both the excess and the lack.

The fish do not wonder what it feels to be wet.

Let us dive shallow or deep, or even run out of that ocean of infinite love, knowing its waters are and will always be close by, always ready to wet our toes again and again.

Separate and connect – the only way to explore the infinite.

Quite ingenious, no?
Quite wondrous, I think.

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