I love going on vacation for the same reason I hate going on vacation – it gives me plenty of time to think.
Since this is an activity my brain thoroughly enjoys, it can hardly wait for our annual vacation to begin. It loves thinking so much that typically it doesn’t even wait for the plane to achieve lift-off before it starts thinking and thinking and thinking (this of course makes me quite grateful for our family tradition of watching the sunset each night, complete with tasty appetizers and a mind-relaxing beverage).
Another vacation tradition – one my mind enjoys slightly less since it is supposed to stay quiet and still for it – is to meditate each morning. But we both actually get lots of insights during these morning meditations.
For instance, it didn’t take me even a day into this vacation to realize I am much more skilled at loving than being loved. In fact, several days in, I am now starting to suspect this is the missing link in a number of struggling areas in my life. And while I really like solving mysteries – I am addicted to John Grisham and his many imitators, and I enjoy a good spy flick as much as the next person – I was less than thrilled when these particular puzzle pieces began to click together.
Why? Because being loved is quite scary!! To me, being loved implies enthusiastic or at least willing vulnerability. It means convincing my ever-more fragile little heart to venture out, sans bulletproof vest and armor-piercing artillery rounds, to negotiate for its own release.
For the record, my heart thinks this is a terrible idea. Since I agree, I am having a bit of difficulty convincing it to go through with “our” plan.
I wouldn’t even bother to argue with it, except that I have come to believe that being loved is essential. It is not optional – not if I want to learn life’s most challenging and rewarding lessons, like how to allow others the same blessing of loving I so enjoy myself. This is probably why my mentor calls the act of blocking another’s love a “spiritual crime.”
Because I do not want to be a criminal (orange is not the new black in my color palette) I have decided it is worth my while to attempt to let others love me in return. But it is very difficult. I have actually identified several specific challenges – for example, how do I know that what the other person is offering is really “love”? If I do let someone love me, what – if anything – are my obligations in return and if there are none but the other person thinks there are, how do I navigate that? What if I don’t want someone’s love but they want to give it to me?
There is plenty more where those came from.
Ultimately, however, I am convinced that being loved is every bit as important a lesson to learn as loving – perhaps more, since it seems so much harder. For instance, every time I ponder interesting cultural cliches such as “do what you love and the money will follow” and then look back at my life (which is full of me doing things I love) and don’t see a wad of bills rushing after me, I think to myself, “I wonder why that doesn’t work for me?”
But now I think I know. I have to allow the money to catch up. I have to allow the love to catch up. I have to allow myself to be loved. So I have set a new intention – for every act of loving others, I will attempt to allow an act of being loved in return.
Wish me luck. I have a feeling I am going to need it.
Today’s Takeaway: What is your “take” on loving versus being loved? Which part do you feel you are better at? How can you tell when you are being loving – or being loved? What have you learned from each?
Sunset at the beach image available from Shutterstock.