Experience it and feel loved…
I was not one of those children who felt very deeply cared for while growing up. Don’t get me wrong! I have the most beautiful parents, and being brought up in a joint family certainly shaped me into the person that I am today. Good touch was available in abundance. However, being a somewhat off-beat, curious child, I had a lot of questions, about life, about myself, about relationships, that no one really seemed to be equipped to answer. I remember sitting on my terrace at twilight, with so much wondering and no expression for all the churning within. I would feel intensely alone even though I belonged to such a wonderful family.
My quest and search for love and companionship, to just fit in, carried on in school too. Neither was I the most popular girl nor the most unpopular. Neither the prettiest, nor a nerd. The year I felt like topping, I would study and come first. And the year I didn’t, I would hover around the last few ranks. My classmates didn’t know what to do with me because I never fit into an image in their mind. Fridays were dress-as-you-like days in my school, and while most ‘groups’ dressed in similar and consistent ways, I kept experimenting. One Friday I would wear a salwar, stunning the so-called hep and happening dressers. The next Friday I would wear a short skirt and top, shocking the nerds. While I was more or less liked by most people, no one knew where I belonged and I didn’t have a very close friend.
Somehow I always keenly felt the lack of love in my life. I wished for intimate friends whom I could talk with. Many came, many went – things always seemed to be in transition and so was I. It was one of those beautiful nights under the stars, at my first spiritual retreat with my guru, that it happened. He was speaking about love and relationships, and suddenly he looked straight into my eyes and said, “The search for love can never be completed by being loved; it only ends with giving love. In fact, the more you love, the more loved Existence makes you feel.” For reasons beyond me, I started crying. I cried for all those years of loneliness. I cried for the overwhelming understanding. I cried realising how much love there was in my life. I cried out of self-pity. I cried out of relief. And finally love.
After all the emotions were spent, peace engulfed me. I realised to feel rich in any aspects of life; I had to feel an abundance of that which already exists in my life. I kept looking for people to love me, not realising that the only thing in my control was to love people, and I had not exercised that right enough. I was always fearful. Always bartering.
Since that moment, love started blossoming in my heart. For people close to me. For people I sometimes didn’t know. And for life itself. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I can love all the people at all times, but I can certainly say that there are some people in my life whom I am loving all the time and many people whom I love most of the time. A beautiful metaphor for love, as my guru says, is being in a rose garden. The more you are in it, the more fragrant you feel. It hardly matters beyond a point whether you are loving or being loved – in fact, the first is easier because it’s in your hands.
It’s like hugging – when you are completely dissolved in the embrace, can you really differentiate who is hugging whom or who started it or how much one loves or is the other responding? No, it’s just two people enveloped in absolute oneness and love.
What a feeling it is to love! To just love wherever I am, with whomever I am. Whether I am alone, or with strangers, or with dearest family and friends, I feel wrapped in a thin invisible gossamer blanket of love. It seems that the great poet Rumi was speaking to me when he said, “Choose Love, Love! Without the sweet life of Love, living is a burden.” The thing about love is… you have to fall in love with it. And I think I have. Finally.
“The search for love can never be completed by being loved; it only ends with giving love. In fact, the more you love, the more loved Existence makes you feel.”