Love and Freedom

A few days ago I posed the question "would you rather have love or freedom?" - inspired by this, from the DailyGuru:
Search for love, for it is the most important ingredient of life.
Without it, you life will echo emptiness.
With it, your life will vibrate with warmth and meaning.
Even during any hardship, love will shine through.
It's a quote that got me thinking about where I've experienced love in my life - and where I've shunned it in favour of being "fiercely independent". I'm not one to mention the "L" word, and I certainly haven't blogged much about it in the past 3 years. I'm strong and single, stand on my own two feet and walk a one-person-wide path...

Yet the more I think about it, the more I realize that love and freedom cannot be seperated - or rather, they should not be. There's that old saying "if you love something, set it free - if it comes back to you, it's yours - if it doesn't, it never was". And although it's the kind of cheesy stuff that ends up being forwarded with cute little photos in powerpoint email attachments, there's truth to it.

Here's an example:
A good few years ago, I found myself loving someone deeply - a love that lasted nearly 8 years before circumstances caused us to call it quits. It wasn't your heart-all-aflutter type of crush-love, it was more bedrock than whirlwind. And it definitely had its ups and downs. There was a point mid-way in this whole thing where he considered moving on with someone else who was geographically closer. Because I loved him, I gave him the freedom to do so (terribly hard as it was at the time). That freedom brought him back to me, with a stronger connection than before. If he had chosen to move on, I would still have loved him - my love wanted what made him happy.

I like this Tom Robbins quote too:
Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won't adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words "make" and "stay" become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.
I wish more people would include those last two sentances in whatever they say to each other at weddings, or in the joining together of their lives... Heck - make them the only vows you say! The only thing you mean when you state "I love you".

There's a love that gives more than it gets - and it's one of the best kinds when it's done right. That says "I want you to be so happy that I'll stand back here and let you dash toward the dreams you desire - take the freedom I'm giving you and run wherever your soul tells you to go, even if it takes you far from me. Let me help you don your wings to fly. Just know that you're loved". I've experienced that kind of love too - though not often. In refusing to cling, in refusing to tie the other down, love can increase instead of decrease, and grant the other power to be amazing.

Sometimes of course that entire thing backfires! :-) And you're left with nothing, other than the knowledge that you have loved. Sometimes that's enough.

Of course love also gives the freedom to stay - to say "here is where I choose to be, freely and fully, not because I have to - but because I want to". It doesn't merely give the freedom to go.

Love is risky, and dangerous, and at times confusing. There are no guarantees. No rules. You can fall out of it as easily as into it - unless it's Real. Real will always be with you in some way. Love requires you to open up and trust that the other will want as much for you as you want for them, and will not wound you purposefully. Too often love becomes a battle of possessiveness and selfishness, each party vying for having the whole of the other, not allowing them the freedom to be who they are, where they are, when they are - or acknowledging that sometimes love means letting go completely.

The DailyGuru quote got me thinking though about whether I seek out love or shun it. Whether it's a foundation in my life, or a can-do-without peripheral that would be more trouble than it's worth. And perhaps I've had the wrong view of love. I've often adopted the perspective that society dictates - based on performance and earning it and worthiness and being a certain kind of person, instead of merely being loved for who you are (flaws and all). I haven't always acknowledged love where I've found it, or relished the warm power it provides to the soul. Too often I've tried to earn love, to attract love, to force love - where instead I should have accepted that love cannot be tied down and tamed. It's wild, yet steady. Bigger than the universe, yet grounded in certainty. Unpredictable, yet worth more when you find it than you could ever imagine. Rare - too rare. Simple - yet earth-shattering.

So what conclusions have I reached with all this pondering? That love is, in the end, important to me. That it's both free and freeing. That it can exist without being returned, without asking for a single thing, without conditions attached - it just IS. That being loved doesn't require sacrificing freedom, but rather grants more freedom than one could have imagined. That I've spent too much energy my entire life trying to avoid it in the mistaken belief that it would cost me everything. That I still have a lot to learn about how to love, who to love, how to be loved, and how to avoid imitation love.

And that perhaps my heart is not as self-preservation-hardened as I have tried to make it after all - that it's OK to have a soft place in your soul, to give bits of yourself away to others, to love - even just a little. It may take practice to shed my protective layers, but it might just be worth the effort.


Do I risk having this entire post misunderstood, misinterpreted or over-analyzed by some? Of course! As I do with everything I post here.. :-)