Love is being with what is. There’s no longing for another now, wanting to be anywhere else, resisting or struggling. I’ve spent the last few years learning how to really love — myself, my life, my work, my husband, my dogs, my body, my food, my environment, my community, my friends and my family. When I am too attached to my own agenda, wanting things to be a certain way and not resting until I’ve “fixed” it, I am anxious and even aggressive with what is. I want it to be different, better, or even gone. Rather than applying discernment to my situation, sinking into my inherent wisdom about how I can be of most benefit to myself and the world, I am judgmental, critical, mean. I cling to my idea of what is right and make myself so unhappy, discontent, neurotic.
Love is relaxing with what is, softening, opening to it without an agenda. In learning how to really love, I’m learning to do less. After spending the morning yesterday doing all the laundry, the dishes, making muffins, studying the next three lojong slogans, getting dog food, and going to the gym, I spent the rest of the day slowing down. I took a warm shower, ate a yummy lunch, watched a few episodes of Fixer Upper on Netflix (oh how I love to see a home that’s been neglected completely rehabbed), cuddled on the couch with Ringo (one of my favorite things), took a walk with my tiny family, and read. I have finally started really taking my weekends, allowing some space and rest, rather than working through them, and I adore it.
Today Eric and I went to lunch, after sleeping in, after my morning writing and yoga, after he walked the dogs and got groceries, after putting clean sheets on the bed and showering. We went to one of our favorite places from when we were in grad school, Avogadro’s Number. We reminisced about those days — just the two of us, living in the basement of the house on Locust street, riding our bikes everywhere. We didn’t have a TV and only one car. Just like now, we loved going out to eat, taking long walks or going hiking. We dreamed about having our own house and a couple of dogs, staying in Fort Collins (at the time, we didn’t know if we’d get to stay here, didn’t at first but came back), but we really had no idea how things would turn out, how we might get to that magic “there.” I remember my deepest longing at the time was to just know how things were going to turn out, to know it would all work out.
And here we are, living that life we hoped for all those years ago. And the real magic of it is we love it, are happy, are still together. There were other options. One is we might have landed somewhere else entirely. Another is we might not have stayed together, not because there was any question we would but because that happens to people, for all kinds of reasons. And finally, we might have landed here and not liked it as much as we’d expected. None of those other options happened, and here we are.
When you are together for a long time, there’s more than one marriage. Hard things happen, and you have to work through them. You get remarried over and over because you keep choosing each other, continue to recommit. And Eric and I have had hard things, and we know that those things will keep coming. Just because we’ve been together a long time doesn’t mean things get easier. You don’t reach a point where it’s simple and you don’t have to try that hard — or at least we don’t. What does happen is you start to relax your agenda about how things should be, and instead work with what is. You relax with what is, you soften, and you find that in being with what is, you can be content, that in this moment there is more than enough. This is love.