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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Love

Writing about 'Love' is one of the easiest things that a writer can do. At the same time, it can also be one of the most difficult - trying to find the right words, attempting to communicate the depth of the feelings, looking for a fresh way to express the love you feel for someone...

The Writer's Circle took a stab at this theme in February of this year (2012). Here are some of the attempts of members' musings:


Love
By: C.G. Wilson

Love is a four letter word.
Four letter words that
First come to mind are bad.

Bad is not associated with love.
Love's emotion has the
Highest vibration.

A vibration of love cures.
Cures to change
Perceptions.

Perceptions to open the world.
A world where one could
Only see hate.

Hate is a negative emotion.
An emotion that destroys
Your very soul.

Soul exists in a realm of higher vibration.
A vibration that is constantly
Connected to you.

You are unique.
So unique there is only one of
You in the whole Universe.

Universe is totality.
Totality of everything that exists
Even matter and energy.

Energy is a force.
A force that cannot be
Created or destroyed.

Destroying love is impossible.
Love is always there in
Your heart.

Your heart is the symbol of love
And the greatest of all
Is love.





Agape.

Love.
Overused, the word blurs
lines of separation and meaning
to reach a beige understanding
of the depth and level of life
that throbs well below the surface,
into the heart of the perpetrator.

Love becomes the cable that
stretches out between two barriers
that links them, the tightrope by which
to overcome the chasm carved by
a difference, or indifference, that rages
and ravages the temple grounds
of the soul and the placid state
of the mind.

Love is the redemptor stretching forth
forgiveness, to solicit smiles that heal old
wounds, a tourniquet to stem the draining flow,
the flower to bring forth the blossom of
a smile; life in transition
and in union.

By: H.M. Peter Westin





This I Believe

by Brenda Quinn


I believe in reaching out to all people, in all walks of life, regardless of race or creed. I walk with love, greeting others with a smile, taking time to show that I care. There are many ways of saying, welcome, I am happy to see you.

I willingly lend a hand wherever needed, I listen to strangers, many are lonely and need a listening ear, every one has a story, and sometimes, a need to share it with a sympathetic person.

I was born in Mandeville, Jamaica, to a home of grief and mourning due to the serious illness of my father and his subsequent death, when I was one month old - In sorrow that never left my mother throughout her life. In early childhood I was aware of the shadow that hung over us.

I did receive love from many family friends, and they expressed this love and caring throughout my growing years. The void created by my father’s death affected me strongly. At times I thought I felt his presence. I have many memories from two years onward; not only of family friends, but also of the black Jamaicans who worked in our home, and cared lovingly for me, and my sister. They worked hard, long hours. I knew that their lives were not easy; I knew many of these people, and those in the weekly market who supplied us with the foods we ate. I loved these people, talked with them, listened to their old folk tales with fascination. I never forget them. I believe, that somewhere in the ‘far beyond’, I chose to be here, on this Planet Earth on my particular path. To give love, show compassion, and believe that it is my own attitude, in sometimes difficult situations, that can make a difference to others, and by changing myself, not judging others, I understand that we are all connected.

Nature has always played a very special role in my life. I stand in awe at the wonders I see, believing that it is essential to ‘stand and stare’, to slow down, immerse myself in the beauty. (The latter becomes hard to find in this out of control, overly developed island.) I love the stars, like friends who come out on the darkest nights. Again, sadly, with so much artificial light – I seldom see my favourites, I cannot remember when last I saw the Southern Cross, Scorpio, the Pleiades, etc…Where is the Milky Way?

I believe that material possessions are meaningless, and more is not better, so I try to go gently and slowly, in this way I benefit both mentally and physically. Perhaps, helping others to do the same.

I had a strange experience not long ago. An unknown man stopped by my car, the window being open. These are his words – “Take this just as I tell you. You love people, and you love to laugh, and you are going to live a very long time.” I was almost speechless, and only said, “You are right, I do love people, and I do love to laugh.” I have looked for him, but never seen him again. I feel he was an angel sent to me.

Finally, I believe in love, simplicity and honesty, I live with my beliefs, and the love I give, comes back to me in so many ways, from many people.

I believe, when I finally leave this body, there is no death, the soul and love are Eternal, and those people we have known and loved, who have gone before us are never far away, but continue to be with us always.



Love

It’s St Valentine’s Day again, the day we are expected to celebrate love and romance. Our culture, from Jane Austen novels to pop music, glorifies romance and defines love in terms of romance and infatuation.

Elizabethan poets idealised the concept of “unrequited love”, which would more properly be described now as “obsession”. If, however, the obsession were reciprocated, it would probably nowadays be seen as some sort of “co-dependency.”

The feelings of romance help to set the stage for love but they are not love. They are a useful chemical filter to help us to choose a mate. They are driven by testosterone and oestrogen and induce a surge of endorphins in our brains. However, they are not necessarily the basis of a long-lasting relationship. 

If feelings of romantic love are not enough, as the basis of a long-term relationship, what is? Many people would say that shared values should be the main criteria. However, while shared values are important, they are not the only requirement for a lasting relationship either. If you look around the church you go to, or another place where there are people who share the same values you hold, would you be prepared to spend your life with any one of them indiscriminately? The question is obviously rhetorical but clearly demonstrates how inadequate shared values are in isolation.

I remember being given the following advice when I was young, on how to choose a husband: “Use your head, not your heart.” There was an emphasis on the supposed importance of background. My own advice would be different: “Marry the person whose company you enjoy the most, (regardless of race, creed, class or age). After all, you will have to spend the rest of your lives together.”

In their book, “Don’t sweat the Small stuff in love,” Richard and Kristen Carlson agree, “If we had to choose a single characteristic that has made our relationship remain special, fun and vibrant over the years, it would probably be that the two of us are, first and foremost, really good pals.”

If it is that easy, then why are there so many problems with modern marriage? Estimates on the percentage of married couples getting divorced vary from agency to agency, but we do know that it is around the 50% mark in the US and lower in the UK. Of the marriages that do stay together, a high percentage are unhappy or less happy than they could be.

Dr Phil McGraw, the well-known American psychologist wrote in his book “Life Strategies,” “When it comes to managing our emotional lives, and training our children how to manage theirs, we’re out of control, but desperately pretending otherwise.”

This is largely because of two problems, a lack of communication and a lack of understanding. I will explore each of these separately.

Many of the problems of communication lie in fear of rejection. In “Speaking the Truth in Love” by Kenneth Haugk, he says that a passive person will typically withhold feedback. “If you withhold needed information, you create an atmosphere of uncertainty. The other person is left to assume what you’re thinking and feeling, and assumptions can lead to disastrous misunderstandings and collapsed relationships.”

Aggressive communication on the other hand is often nonverbal such as facial expressions, gestures or tone of voice. If words are used, they are often in the form of put-downs which are designed to humiliate another person in the presence of others, or sarcasm.  Sarcasm comes from Greek and means “flesh tearing.” According to Haugk, “sarcasm is always aggressive, and it hurts much more than the physical pain of a slap or a cut.

Another form of unhealthy communication is Passive-aggressive. One particularly nasty form of this is to give someone the *Silent Treatment. Haugk says “A person who uses the silent treatment is trying to punish the other, trying to inflict pain. This behaviour is often successful because to be shunned and ignored is to have your existence denied. Such withholding of relationship is painful indeed.”

David Richo also speaks of the silent treatment in “Daring to Trust:” “Sudden unilateral silence or an abrupt disappearance impairs our ability to trust. It is directly opposed to our addressing, processing and resolving our problems. The silent treatment is a favourite entitlement of the ego, a vindictive style in a relationship, a form of pouting.”
  
The second problem, that of understanding is that women instinctively understand women and men understand men, but they don’t understand each other. In fact you could go as far as saying that men and women are so incompatible that if you can manage to have a conversation with a member of the opposite sex, it’s a miracle. Perhaps that is what we need to truly understand and love one another, a miracle.

John Gray, the author of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” stated in his famous book: “Men and women give the kind of love they need and not what the opposite sex needs. The most frequently expressed complaint women have about men is that men don’t listen. So many times a woman just wants to share her feelings and her husband, thinking he is helping, interrupts her by offering solutions to her problems that invalidate her feelings. The most frequently expressed complaint men have about women is that women are always trying to change them. A woman does not realise her caring attempts to help him may humiliate him. She mistakenly thinks she is just helping him to grow.”

Thousands of couples who have read Gray’s writings would agree with him that men and women can learn to understand each other. However there are many people who are so damaged by their childhood that this challenge seems too overwhelming.

In his book “Daring to Trust,” David Richo talks about “The 5 A’s by which love is shown, attention (giving our time to someone), acceptance (of who a person really is), appreciation (or affirmation), affection (verbal and physical) and allowing (free expression of emotions or opinions). (My additions in brackets).

He goes on to say that if these emotional needs are not met in childhood, they may remain present throughout our lives, but we realise our partner can’t necessarily fulfil them. He then asserts “We can find alternative healthy means to fulfil those needs.”

Richard and Kristen Carlson expand on this: “Romantic love, a loving partnership, marriage are all wonderful. The truth is, however, that there are countless ways to express and receive love. You can do so with pets, volunteering, nature, a good cause, even hobbies. Anything you enjoy, that nurtures your spirit in a loving way, that allows you to share your love with something or someone else, has the potential to fill your heart with love.”

There is plenty of scope for love to be given in non-romantic ways. As Mother Teresa used to say: “The biggest disease, today, is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted. Hunger is not only for a piece of bread. The hunger of today is so much greater: for love – to be loved, to be cared for. We are too often afraid of the sacrifices we might have to make. But where there is true love, there is joy and peace.”

One of the reasons I enjoy visiting Missionaries of the Poor in Jamaica, apart from humanitarian and religious reasons, is that the residents themselves, are so loving. Devoid of scheming intelligence, ambition, fear, rivalry and manipulation, some of these simple folk exude pure, unadulterated love.

One incident in particular stands out in my memory. One day, I walked into a centre for women, many of whom have experienced abuse, and all of who have been abandoned. No sooner had I come through the gate, when a woman who I had never seen before threw her arms around me, squeezing me as hard as she could, and squealing with delight. My instant thought was that I had received more love in those few seconds, than I had in the rest of my life put together.

Once a person has learned to give and receive love in these non-romantic ways, their emotional scars will start to heal, and they will then be ready to take the first steps on the journey to real intimacy with their partner.

Dr Stephen Covey, talks about the “Emotional Bank Account” in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families.” He says, “You can make deposits by proactively doing things that build trust in the relationship.” He talks about loving as a verb, that is to say listening, empathising, appreciating and affirming.” If these building blocks are put in place, there will be an atmosphere that is much more conducive to real love in the relationship. 

So what is real love and how do we recognise it? It has been said that the sign that real love is present is that there is an element of sacrifice. Jesus Christ, the ultimate authority on love, said “Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.” This is what he did in a literal way, but it could also be taken metaphorically, as in “Greater love has no man than to lay down his self-interest for his friends.”  

I will end with a poem:

Love is….
Love is joy at another’s good news,
Love is walking in their shoes,
Love is closing the door on fear,
Love is wanting the best for someone dear,
Love is the closeness between a child and mother,
Love is the willingness to suffer for another,
Love is always being fair,
Love is trust, and Love is prayer.


*Never, ever, ever give anyone the Silent Treatment

By: Fiona Pimentel




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