Are You In?

Love doesn’t come with a contract
You give me this I gave you that
It’s scary business
Your heart and soul is on the line

–Radney Foster, I’m In

Yesterday I heard this song for the first time in awhile, and it made me happy. It’s the kind of song that champions life. Sure, engaging love is scary. You might give it and be spurned by the intended recipient. There’s risk of injury. Yet the potential for reward is equally breathtaking.

There was a time in my life when friendships were quite transient. I’d moved to Austin — away from family and life-long familiarity — and got involved in different activities, meeting new people but finding they would drift out of my life. I was attentive and nurturing, but the effort wasn’t reciprocated. I recall wondering if something was wrong with me that might explain why these people were so uncommitted.

For awhile I was also tempted to lament the situation as being more evidence of our too-fast, overly mobile lifestyles in the U.S. While it may be true, focusing on this put me at risk of becoming bitter and cynical.

So I decided to reframe the way I perceived love. I imagined love in the form of an ocean — boundless, with high and low tides. People — like the tide — may come and go, but love’s ocean remains. When I felt alone, I focused on remembering that my life would be full of love and connection again, that this too was temporary.

Thinking about love in this way reduced my fear and neediness. This, in turn, allowed my true self to shine through, which then attracted more people to me. My life now is quite full of love — a life partner, family, and friends. I realize the secret to keeping love is in holding lightly, experiencing the relationship fully in the present, and being willing to let go when the time comes.

Explore posts in the same categories: Humanities, Social Science

2 Comments on “Are You In?”

  1. Denny Says:

    I like your ocean metaphor. Caring and love are the feelings we have about people who enrich us, sometimes in ways we can’t define. As we enrich each other, we respond by becoming closer or more intimate…from stranger to acquaintance to friend to best friend or partner. Also, relationships are constantly changing because our lives, our selves, our needs are changing. Slowly, over time, we get closer, we drift apart. It just happens. Meanwhile this love is the most important thing in our lives.

  2. mahala Says:

    This is really powerful, this concept of re-framing and redefining love. I had a similar experience when I accepted that my family loved me even though it wasn’t given in a form that fed me. Once I let go of the form and saw the love, guess what, I started feeling nutured by it, too.