You know this saying - Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life? I think it's a piece of crap. I think it should be rephrased into 'Do what you love and you will work all day every day'. Because once we choose love, it doesn't take days off, it's there even if sometimes we wish we could take a break from it, it's there even if at times we don't feel loving.
Few days ago I was walking along the river, listening to music when a song 'Speak Low' by Billie Holiday started playing and in an instant my whole body got this tingly sense of excitement, unconsciously I started swinging every step I took, basically in my head I was doing an act straight out of a musical (from the outside I probably looked like a person who lost it's mind after two months of quarantine). I just felt this big love for swing music and they way it makes me feel. But what I realised is that it wasn't always like that, for a long time I didn't get this music, it was just 'sounds' to dance on. Sure, I was curious, open to learn more about it, but not more than that. The love that developed took time and patience but now I'm pretty sure it's here to stay.
Falling in love versus loving
I will borrow this idea from M. Scott Peck and his book 'The road less traveled'. He describes falling in love as effortless, it's something that eludes our boundaries and will. We don't really choose who or what we fall in love with, we can only choose how to act upon it. Falling in love can shake our world, we tend to idealise the thing or a person we fall in love with, we're wearing our pink glasses and it's exciting and it's beautiful, but it's essentially a temporary experience. Reality sooner or later creeps in and we start looking at our object of love in a different light.
For most part of my life I thought about that stage as something quite gruesome, I'd think that love as well as fairy tales had to end in the 'happily ever after' stage where everyone lives in this continuous bliss. But that wouldn't be very practical, would it. Forget practical, it wouldn't make us grow, because growth rarely happens from a state of bliss. Slowly, I started appreciating the feeling of love over the chase for the spark and exhilaration of being in love.
If I say 'oh, I just LOVE cinema', but what I mean by that is that I enjoy watching movies, I get very excited going to movie theatre and I have some friends who are actors, in other words I have a very pleasant feeling that doesn't require much of my active effort. So maybe I am just in love with cinema. The question is - what distinguishes loving from being in love?
We don't have to love, we choose to love. *
Falling in love is something that happens to us without an active effort, we fall into it like a clueless animal that falls into a trap (I know, what a metaphor..). I fell in love with swing dancing from the first class I took, it was exciting, it made me want to have more of it in my life, I would actually feel butterflies in my stomach before going to a dance. I started dancing by chance rather than by choice and then I was hooked. The decision to love came much later, before it - there was a road full of questions and obstacles. If me and the dance were a relationship, we would have broken up and gotten together multiple times, tried being open to date other hobbies, we would have fought and had passionate reconnections. After a while of this tumultuous period, I chose to love the dance and commit to it, even and especially through the moments when I'm not inspired to love it.
Love is an act of will - namely, both an intention and an action. *
Love as a noun doesn't tell us much about it. What is it supposed to feel? Warm, exciting, bubbly? However the verb to love is more accurate. Love without an action is a declaration and we know our acts speak more than our words. To love is to take an extra step even if we're tired or lazy because each step towards love is a step towards growth. Whether it's doing something nice for someone you love, taking yourself on a walk (self-love) or scheduling a practice session (love for your art), it's the action that counts. Some days that action is almost effortless and there are other days when we have to kick our asses to act loving.
Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful. *
Just like with acting even if we're lazy, with love we have to act even if we're afraid. Love requires courage. Even declaring one's love requires courage. It's scary because it makes us vulnerable, we give a part of ourselves to someone or something but when we declare our love we're also making a commitment to be loving. Courage is often born from love. Courage to have tough conversations. Courage to reveal ourselves. Performing is a good example of this kind of courage: I'm often scared to do it but my love for the dance is greater than my fear and so I act upon it, even if my hands are sweating and shaking.
There is a time and place for everything, in order to love we need to have experienced falling in love. Give time and patience for your love(s) and let it lead you to growth or as Charles Bukowski wrote: 'let it kill you'.
My Dear, Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it's much better to be killed by a lover.
* Quotes from M. Scott Peck's book 'The Road Less Traveled'
* Illustration by Luka http://liukajudenkova.tumblr.com