Crafting Gentleness

Friday, February 09, 2007

To know and keep true love ...

"No matter how often we turn our minds and hearts away - or how stubbornly we refuse to believe in its magic - true love exists. Everyone wants it, even those who claim to have given up hope. But not everyone is ready. True love appears only when our hearts are ready. A few years ago I was sick and had one of those cancer scares where the doctor tells you if the tests are positive you will not have long to live. Hearing his words I lay there thinking, I could not possibly die because I am not ready, I have not known true love. Right then I committed myself to opening my heart; I was ready to receive such love. And it came.

"This relationship did not last forever, and that was difficult to face. All the romantic lore of our culture has told us when we find true love with a partner it will continue. Yet this partnership lasts only if both parties remain committed to being loving. Not everyone can bear the weight of true love. Wounded hearts turn away from love because they do not want to do the work of healing necessary to sustain and nurture love. Many men, especially, often turn away from true love and choose relationships in which they can be emotionally withholding when they feel like it but still receive love from someone else. Ultimately, they choose power over love. To know and keep true love we have to be willing to surrender the will to power."

bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions (2000)


  • what is love??? I have not found one definition for it that was true for me at any one time.
    Love has so much colours, smells, tastes (and yes sometimes sour)...
    yet I agree with you we often turn a blind eye because it is easier or more confortable to stay where we are than to go hunting for it with the major risk of being hurt!! and I'm not sure men are less courageous than women...

    By Blogger clairem, at Friday, 09 February, 2007  

  • Thanks for your comment. One thing that bell hooks is not so keen on is the idea of 'being in love'. She seems to me to be more interesting in 'being loving'. If I'm playing around with this thinking, I don't find myself asking '*what* is love?' but instead asking '*how* am I loving?', where loving can be thought of as an adjective or as an -ing form of a verb (gerund), a condition of doing. bell hooks' book is really good for these sorts of ideas and great on guidance.

    For me, this is the heart of the challenge of gentleness - as I understand it it is not about engaging in visible *acts* of gentleness, or of entering a state different from where you're at now, but rather it's a challenge to adopt an attitude of gentleness, the heart of which, for me, is an attitude of listening, an attitude of respect. (there are some posts on respect in the archives)

    A good friend of mine says that Rule Number One is 'Listen To The Woman'. I think if I managed to listen more my past relationships would be a little more loving in character, at least to the extent that I had an influence. Sometimes we can be loving, respectful, gentle, and still not be in a generally loving situation - it takes two to (I can't tango) waltz. ;)

    I try to avoid the term 'love' as a noun these days, pretty much. I am happy enough with the term 'loving'. If I am in a 'committed' relationship is my relationship a loving one? What is my contribution to this - am I loving towards this other person in my life?

    The kinds of relationship situations we often refer to as 'love' are often not 'loving'. (there's another bell hooks excerpt in the archives about this) The term 'love' can often be used by people to persuade themselves that they *have* to be in a relationship, or that they *need* the person.

    No-one really needs anyone, as I see it, and once people start playing the need card in a relationship there are usually other tensions already at play that are probably worthwhile dealing with.

    I think we can be helpful or good for each other in terms of support and respect and validation and communication. I think a respectful, loving relationship can provide us with the most wonderful opportunities for learning and growth and exploration.

    I think that being clear about what's important to us in a relationship, and being clear about our own opportunity to adopt a loving attitude (and the daily challenges that brings with it), doesn't guarantee that any relationship will be a committed or longterm affair, but it seems to me that taking greater responsibility for our own part in any of these kinds of things does provide a basis for getting less hurt, being more real, and being more honest with ourselves about how we are with others and how we are with ourselves.

    By Blogger Anthony, at Friday, 09 February, 2007  

  • Oh, and thanks for sticking up for the lads! :)))

    By Blogger Anthony, at Friday, 09 February, 2007  

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