My life mantra is: “What would love do?”
Every time I’m faced with a decision I ask myself this, and the answers are not always what you’d expect. Until very recently, Hollywood has given us a childlike and juvenile perspective on love: a world where we do whatever our loved ones want us to do, where possessions are the main way to share love. A world where we stay silent against our wishes and our integrity, and where that silence is celebrated as a wistful strength. In truth it’s a self-deprecating, self-sabotaging, shame based, self-inflicted pain based on fear. Leaving what’s in your heart left unsaid is not love. Be kind with it though.
I absolutely loved the film La La Land for this very reason. Both lead characters stayed in their integrity, even against incredible challenge and heartache. They both pursued the dreams that spoke through them: they were both successful at actualising those dreams, being recognised and contributing themselves in the world. Yet, the love that they shared — their relationship — had to end, and they had to continue through life with the knowledge that they would always love each other, but that they couldn’t share each other’s lives. Other partners came into their lives that gave them more of what they needed.
A chance encounter at the end of the film places the two lead characters in front of each other, in their respected actualisations, unexpectedly. The look that they gave each other was perfect in that moment, it was rich and nuanced, full of: Respect, celebration, acknowledgement, sadness, wistfulness, intelligence, the weight of history, contemplation, nostalgia, deep trust and resonation, gratitude; love. Sometimes these moments are way too rich and textured to put words to, sometimes it’s best to breathe in the space with each other. Feel and observe the energies of love in that moment. Life isn’t like the movies, often we don’t get the chance of these unexpected conclusions to our stories with one another. However, we do have multiple similar moments like this in life: When we watch the sunset with a loved one, sitting by the ocean and enjoying the cyclic waves, hiking in the woods, watching a film in each other’s presence. Love gifts us these scenarios.
Sometimes the answer is ‘give them a hug’ when I’m still fuming after an argument; other times it’s ‘stand up for yourself,’ or ‘do that thing you’ve been putting off from fear.’ Sometimes it says ‘go and apologise,’ other times it calls me to ask for an apology.
Love has many faces. So it is. Love is the universe. Love is the expansive and infinite vibratory experience of life. Words are so inadequate, I feel that way about love. It expands within my chest, what the Chinese would call the sea of tranquility that runs down the centre of my rib cage; a timeless feeling of connection. Not only between myself and the person, also one that runs through our ancestry, and all the plethora of living organisms that we have shared the universe with throughout forever.
The Greeks have 8 words that were formed in their deep and rich philosophical culture, the more we are aware of the different energies that love can bring to our lives, the more we can start to choose the ones we want to cultivate, I have taken these 8 definitions from Organic Authority:
Eros (Passionate Love)
Taking its name from the Greek god of fertility, Eros best defines our modern concept of romantic love. Eros is primal, powerful, and intense. It is guided by lust, pleasure, and infatuation — and it often involves a loss of control. For this reason, the Ancient Greeks didn’t necessarily think that it was always a good thing. It can be dangerous and is likely to burn out quickly unless supported with one of the less superficial loves below.
The erotic can be used to build connection in a community through the sharing of sensual pleasures, and is not confined only to the sexual. However, it has to be just a part of the whole equation.
Ludus (Playful Love)
Often paired with Eros and associated with puppy love, Ludus is the playful affection that you feel during the early stages of a relationship. You laugh, you tease, you flirt. But you also feel Ludus when you’re laughing and bantering with friends, dancing with strangers, or sending flirty messages online. Ludus makes you feel young and euphoric.
Philautia (Self Love)
Loving yourself is the bedrock for loving other people. Having pride in your work, taking care yourself, and maintaining a loving inner dialogue are all parts of Philautia. Self-loathing people have little love to give. After all, you can’t “love your neighbor as yourself” unless you love yourself first. Beware the negative form of Philautia, narcissism. An Ancient Greek idea that we know all too well today, narcissism is defined by self-obsession, vanity, and a narrow focus on one’s personal gain.
Mania (Obsessive Love)
Unbalanced Eros and a lack of healthy Philautia can easily foment into Mania, or madness. Stalking behaviors, co-dependency, extreme jealousy, and violence are all symptoms of Mania. Love can be a balm for low self-esteem, and Mania sufferers are desperate to keep the sense of self-value that their desired partner provides.
Pragma (Committed Love)
A hallmark of healthy, long-term relationships, Pragma is a deep understanding and unique harmony between two people. While Eros is about finding love, Pragma is about giving love. Patience, tolerance, and compromise are essential elements.
Storge (Family Love)
Naturally flowing between parents and children, Storge is a familiar fondness most often associated with kinship. It often involves an unbalanced relationship, where the flow of love is asymmetrical or even unilateral. Born out of familiarity and dependency, Storge is unconditional. It is a very powerful force, and can also be generated between friends, bosses and colleagues, and owners and pets.
Philia (Friendship Love)
Philia is the love between equals who share goodwill toward each other. Ancient Greeks valued Philia over all other types of love. Features of this deep feeling of friendship include loyalty, the sharing of emotions (good and bad), and a sense of shared sacrifice. Philia is a virtuous, intimate companionship that has the power to transform eros from lust to spiritual understanding.
Agape (Compassionate Love)
Agape is selfless, unconditional love for the entire world: neighbors, strangers, everybody. Existing on the spiritual plane, it is the highest form of love — and the one in shortest supply in today’s society. Empathy fuels Agape love, which is given freely without any desires, expectations, or judgment.
We can see that love isn’t just being nice and comfortable, that sometimes love calls us to live life from our heart space, and to step into the being that we truly are; to actualise that in the world.
For me, leading in love has meant accepting my creativity, my intuition and mystic tendency, and my natural warrior leadership. These things have been my work to incorporate healthy habits around them, when I was unconsciously trying to deny these traits in myself they’d come out in unhealthy ways. Because I was dismissing myself, I was living in fear.
The path of love gets easier the more I walk it, because the more I walk it, the more I understand myself and the way that the energies of love move through me.
Give it a go, let me know how you get on.
Previously published on medium
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Photo credit: by Mayur Gala on Unsplash