Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another. – Thomas Merton
What does that mean?
It’s that time of year again. Valentine’s Day. Those who have someone rejoice that fact and those who do not lament it.
But that’s not the point of this quote, at least as I understand it. Yes, this quote talks of love being our destiny. But remember that it comes in many forms.
In the longer version of the quote (available by clicking on the link at the bottom of the post) it includes both other people, and with the divine. I would extend it to ideals as well.
Love is not a solitary endeavor, even if we are alone. When we have love for others, in general or in specific, or even of an ideal, we are joined with it. And in that joining comes the understanding of love.
Why is finding love important?
Again, this is not a post about finding the perfect person for you. There are plenty of magazine articles to more than cover that topic. This post is about the other kinds of love, and how important it is to find it in those places regardless of how you are doing finding love with other people.
The forms of love are boundless. There is unrequited love, where they might not even know you exist. Philanthropy often falls into this category. There is familial love, where you love those most like you, whether by blood or by values or principles. There is, of course, romantic love, which is part of St Valentines Day.
But there are so many others. If you have love that fits in the categories mentioned above, you probably already have a great and warm feeling in you. Consider the love of ideals as well, where you show how you feel for your country, for justice, for honor or whatever else holds great meaning to you.
Why is finding love important? Love interacts with our very being at the deepest levels, whether it is about an ideal or a family member, a stranger or the one person you cannot live without. But only having one of these loves in your life, that sounds like a fairly barren life.
Where can I apply this in my life?
How many kinds of love do you have in your life? Can you name them? Had you even considered some of these as love before today? Take a moment and consider what else you do with your time, your effort or your money that might be considered as being a form of love?
Unrequited love, as mentioned above, where they might not even know you exist. Philanthropy often falls into this category. Do you love others, many of whom you don’t even know, and may never meet?
What of familial love? Even if you hate your parents, there are probably some people who, through shared experiences or shared beliefs, are family to you. With how many people do you share familial love, even if it’s a milder form, like a close friendship?
The love of ideals or principles. Do you love justice, honor or something else? Does it give you the same feeling inside when you think of upholding it or influencing people to value it as well? How does it make you feel?
But love is about more than just a feeling. Yes, the feeling is great, and helps you remember why you do what you do, but more importantly (at least to me) is what we learn about ourselves when we do these things. We learn what really matters to us. What are we willing to do to attain and keep such a feeling?
Answering that question will include consideration of social, ethical and ideological norms for you and where you live. What lines are you willing to cross to protect and defend the things and people you love?
That is a serious question which I believe you should take some time to consider, before you have to make a decision. Hurried decisions are rarely the best. What will you do, and what would be too much?
Finding love, in all its forms, is important to me. What parts of your life have you found love, and where is there still room for more? I don’t believe love is a finite resource. I believe we can always give more. And that the more we give, the more we have to give.