I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ranting continues: installement #2

I am glad some of you liked it and it made you think. I know I have a running blog, or at least this is how it linked to all the running websites, but I also know you guys are deep thinkers. Some may have gotten scared or taken aback by this post, and some don't feel comfortable to comment - btw, nobody really is pushing anybody to state their opinion, you know...And I also know you like to work - and to suffer:) How many of you cherish a memory of "I got my ass off the couch and ran a marathon in 3 hrs"? May be you bask in it for a few days, may be for a couple of weeks, and then it's gone...In my personal experience The Umstead 100 win I had is good, but I rarely talk about it - while I trained and did well, it was practically unexpected and weird. While that WS100 in 2005 - I trained like hell for 6 months, I raced well, I struggled through the run, I battled horrific stomach distress - and I came in top 10. That top 10 will forever be with me, I earned it, and I earned it for sure. So why do we expect to have love "come to us" by itself and not work for it?

But, I digress, consider the first paragraph a short relapse into running theme:) It's time to get back to the book and get it over with. Read it – or skip it away. There will be not enough space or time to put down everything I learned in it, but I'll try to outline a few (a many few) points I find very interesting and worth thinking about.

Man is gifted (man here refers to human being) – he is life being aware of itself: himself, others, past and possibilities of the future. He is also aware of separation, what leads him to anxiety, thus the deepest need of man is to overcome his aloneness. How he does it is up to each individual. BTW, here is a short step-away: drug addiction and alcohol abuse can be simply means to “cover-up” aloneness, as when you’re high, the world around disappears, and it is not that scary anymore. But we knew that, didn’t we?

There is symbiotic union (love of a mother and her fetus first, and then a baby she is nursing is such, when two bodies are so inter-dependable, and a masochistic and sadistic unions are examples of passive and active symbiosis as well) and then there is mature love. Mature love is union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality. Love makes a man overcome his sense of isolation, yet it permits him to be himself. In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one yet remain two.

If we agree that love is an activity and not a subject, then it requires motivation. Is the motivation coming from outside, like with other work, or from inside? If you’re sitting still and trying to calm your mind and learn about yourself – is it active or passive doing? Is it an action or a passion? Or those are just words?

In the most general way, the active character of love is described as primarily giving. Somehow in our society “giving” assumes sacrificing, being deprived after that. The marketing value of giving is that it should be done only in order to have receiving in exchange, otherwise you feel cheated on. On a contrary, giving the highest expression of potency. In a very act of giving we experience our strength, our wealth, our power, and that fills us with joy. Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much. It is very well known that poor are more willing to give than the rich, unless it’s poverty beyond certain point when it’s impossible, and thus those people are deprived of joy of giving. The most important sphere of giving, though, of course, is not one of material possessions, but in human realm. What does one person can give to another no matter how poor he is? Hi gives of himself – what is alive in him, his joy, his interest, his listening, his knowledge, his understanding, his humor, his sadness…and thus his life, and at the same time he enhances his own sense of aliveness. Every one of your relationships to man or to nature must be a definite expression of your real, individual life. You give love because you feel joy of giving, not because you expect to be loved in return…

Besides giving, the active nature of love comes in other common forms: care, responsibility, respect and knowledge.

When a mother says she loves her child, what is the first thing you check on? Is the baby fed, clothed, bathed, nursed…If you say you love flowers – and the flowers are dead in your plant pots, that wouldn’t make sense, would it? Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love. “Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupéry comes to mind again: ”You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed”.

What gently sways us to responsibility from care…What in this world and days almost means a duty, while all it should mean is to be “ready to respond”. For adults, in love, this refers mainly to psychic needs, as physical needs can be taken care of by person himself (unless there are circumstances, and I am not going there).

Responsibility can easily deteriorate into domination and possessiveness, were it not for the third component of love: respect. Respect is not fear and awe. According to the root of the world (respicere – to look at), it is the ability to see a person as he is. Respect, thus, implies the absence of exploitation. I want the loved person to grow and unfold for his own sake, not to serve me and my desires. It is only possible if I had achieved independence myself, if I can stand and walk without crutches. Old French song says: “Love is the child of freedom, never that of domination”.

It is nearly impossible to respect the person without knowing him, as well as care and responsibility would be blind if not guided by knowledge. The basic knowledge, though, has a fundamental human desire: to know “the secret of man” – what actually lies in a Delphic motto “Know thyself”. How do you know your loved one before you know yourself? Yet we are not a thing, and neither is the fellow man, and the further we reach into the depth of our being, the more the goal of knowledge eludes us. Love is a path taken for an idea of a fusion with one another, and this serves as a way to gain knowledge. The good thing about it is no matter how deep we reach, we never find a bottom – thus we never stagnate and always move forward…And you also better “love thyself” as you are a human also, and that sometimes gets confused with selfishness. The selfish person is interested only in himself and judges everybody from the point of their usefulness to him. Why does he try to make use of those around? Because he doesn’t love himself, duh! Because this is the way of his affirmation of been “ok” since he doesn’t believe it himself! Thus self-love and selfishness are opposite terms!

There was a long discussion about male-female polarity as union in the next chapter, what basically is talk about sex, and I won’t burden you with it just in case – I am aware how prudent most of Americans are (some subjects are just not talked about, and then we wonder why the problems arise?) But I would like to touch Sigmund Freud for a bit, whose theory is based that sex as an act is driving the universe. It is not that overemphasizes sex, but rather fails to understand sex deeply enough. In short, he paints sex as an itch: you scratch it and life is all better now. Have you tried it before? Sex without intimacy? I know these are words with different meaning in my vocabulary…

And now onto one of the most important point for me: love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one “object” of love. If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to other fellow men, it is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism. Most people believe if they are consumed by one “object of love”, it is a proof of the intensity of their love. It comes form the very first statement from previous post” love is not seen as an activity, a power of a soul, that all you need to do is to find the right “object”, and the rest is history. If you truly love one person, you love all other persons through him, you love the whole world through him and you love yourself through him. I believe each person is capable to love, whether or not it develops is a different story. Loving other people is, to some extent, like practicing love you expect to happen as a union. And then you shall continue practicing this art, this attitude towards universe and keep it alive. Just one note - this is NOT a promotion of "free love" of 60's and 70's, and I am all for monogamy. Love as an art consists of one for the world and human race and one for your partner. But the idea of "love" is the same: you either can or you can't.

A little side-kick for the “painting”: there is not enough love expressed in this world, more so in this country, these days. Love comes in actions – as well as in words, in touch, in looks. Why are we so afraid to say an encouragement, or better yet extend a hand and give a slight pat, may be a hug? Have you any idea how grateful those folks are who come across the finish line of a race I work at – simply because I hug each and every one of them? I know I want one when I am done! Take a deep breath and walk to that neighbor of yours who you hardly know, or to the yoga instructor – and give a hug, please. It speaks higher volumes than any words…

What else to add? An excursion to “falling in love” versus “loving”. Former means a feeling, latter is more a continuous doing. How often did you feel anger, sadness, happiness, anxiety…and then it passed? Feelings come and go, you know, they are very temporary. Not to mention “falling in” is passive sense as far as I understand English. It’s like it has been done to you, not that you did it by choice, using your soul, your heart, your mind and your power. “Falling in” deprives of personal power. You may feel like the lightening stroked, but at the end, you made a choice to feel love:) Love consciously. It is a decision, a judgment, a promise, a commitment.

And last, but not least, illusion: love means necessarily the absence of conflict. No feeling of pain, no sadness in life – is it life? No turmoil in river flow – is it river? How would you keep learning about yourself and your partner if you don’t conflict? Do you not ask questions, or do you expect same answers as your thoughts are? Than, coming back to what was said, do you love a person “as is”, or as your “predicted dream-partner”? Real conflicts are not destructive, they lead to clarification, they produce catharsis from which both persons emerge with more knowledge and more strength.

Love is only possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence. Only in reality is aliveness, only here is the basis for love. Love, experienced like that, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place, but a moving, growing, working together. There is only one proof for the presence of love: the depth of the relationship, and the aliveness and strength of each person concerned.

I promise I am done for a while! Cross my heart and hope to die! :)


Carilyn said...

I have missed a lot in my absence! I had to go back and catch up on what I missed and it was well worth it. As always, love to hear your thoughts on things (as well as what you are reading :)

I really enjoyed your San Francisco e-mail and was so happy to see you so happy!

P.S. I think I've talked a group from here into running PCT 50 next year as their first ultra. I told them if they were only going to do one, that was the one to do!

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