You know Stevie Wonder? He has this song, “AS” and it is so good. I was listening to over and over again today and then I didn’t have to even play it anymore because it was really stuck in my head.
Just as hate knows love’s the cure
You can rest your mind assure
That I’ll be loving you always
Until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky—ALWAYS
Until the ocean covers every mountain high—ALWAYS
Until the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea—ALWAYS
Until we dream of life and life becomes a dream
Listening to this song is notable because for a few months, all the songs I heard made me think about Dave: father of my children, was my husband, a really important person in my life. During that time I had to stop listening to anything in the car because I’d get all worked up—screamsinging along with songs, could be tears, maybe a little over-acting going on because all the songs were about Dave and me. I could usually handle THE BEAT ATX 102.1 which plays hip hop but even on that station, I’d run into the occasional song that was either too offensive or actually touched a chord. It was a difficult period in my music-listening life, but now, thank goodness, pop-music is not so hard. I’m back to radio for the car rides and I don’t take it all so personally, though when listening to this particular song, I did have that moment of, “ha! Yeah, right…always” come up again, but I didn’t turn off the music in exasperation. I actually enjoyed the song and it made me wonder…
How do you love someone, no matter what, forever and always? (I guess Stevie gives himself an out if something freaky and apocalyptic strikes and rainbows start burning shit out of the sky… but even with that thrown in there, he really sounds like he means it.) I ask this because stuff changes, right? Feelings and situations change and love, perhaps erroneously, is often treated like a feeling. How do you keep on lovin’ if the person you love doesn’t love you back or doesn’t love you in the way you want to be loved? What if they die? What if they are really mean to you? None of these are conditions listed in the song… Can Stevie love someone forever even under these sorts of difficult circumstances or do we, as listeners and lovers just think, “yeah, you are feelin’ that now, Stevie, but we all know it might not last.”
Loving someone when they don’t love you back certainly isn’t the way the economy of love tends to work. If you are lovin’ someone always, but then they stop lovin’ you and start lovin’ someone else, say, then you might just drop the always. You withdraw the love and turn it off inside yourself—sometimes denying the fact that there ever was a whole lot of lovin’ going on at all. It’s a knee-jerk/save-yourself-reaction to the painful emotions that can arise. Why do we do that? Is it too much to handle to feel love and unloved at the same time? Is that love in the midst of rejection too hard? Maybe the love is all mixed up with the other painful emotions and so we just throw that one out as we try to recover from the other stuff.
Alternate scenario: you start dating someone, and you are really lovin’ them, but they can’t match you in the amount or the way that you love them, so to protect yourself, you stop yourself from growing that love. You carefully watch and act as if you are each others’ pacesetter and you hold back and don’t let your feelings of love outpace the other person jogging along beside you. And when I say you, I mean me… Mixing metaphors here—maybe you only let so much love supply into the economy of love so you don’t get yourself into a love-inflation situation, devaluing your own love… or something. Anyone else get what I’m talking about here?
I guess if you are a parent and you have biology on your side, then you have a pretty good shot at loving your child for always. You love them when they are in a difficult stage, you love them when they say they hate you, you continue to love them when they are teenagers doing their teenage-rebellion thing and you love them through their adult life, even when they make choices you don’t agree with. There is support for this in movies and real life. Society wants you to keep loving your kids no matter what. All that bonding you do with your infant sets you up for success. We know how great that love is, having parents of our own. We want it for our kids. It’s one of the most beautiful things a parent gives their children: Unconditional love. Really, it’s one of the nicest things anyone could give anyone.
Sometimes it feels like love can be taken away from us—when someone hurts us so much by “not loving us back” it can feel like that. But really, love comes from within us, separate from all the hurt, and I bet it can be there even when conditions aren’t perfect. Love can’t really be taken away. Even in breakups and death, the love that you or I feel can still be in us. Love isn’t an economy at all because it doesn’t have to be brokered or bartered. I guess it is more of a state of being. It requires feeling things deeply, but keeping those feelings in their own separate paint tray sections. Love doesn’t have to mix with rejection, hurt, and pain and turn into some muddy brown feeling. We can deal with the rejection and still feel the love for that person. Just think about Nelson Mandela—smiling after all those years in prison. Gets me every time.
I think that the best chance we have of loving someone ALWAYS is to move love from the “feeling” category into the “state of being” category. It might even be a practice, like yoga, that you cultivate and nurture and choose again and again. If love is conditional, then “always” is a pretty high bar, because conditions, situations, feelings change all of the time. But if love isn’t a feeling and it’s not conditional, and instead it is a limitless state of being, then you can cultivate it and choose to be in it. CHOOSE LOVE! CHOOSE LOVE! CHOOSE the limitless state of being LOVE! (I can’t believe I just wrote that, but I’m feelin’ it today…awesome.)