The Subject Tonight Is Love

The subject tonight is Love

And for tomorrow night as well,

As a matter of fact I know of no better topic

For us to discuss

Until we all

Die!

- Hafiz

On this Valentine's weekend, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty reminds us that we are most beautiful when we are shining our love and compassion for ourselves out into the world. If we cannot love ourselves with our flaws and failings, how can we hope to love another with theirs? It's so much easier to see the flaws in others and not our own, which we hide and protect and attempt to disown. We relegate these parts into the shadowy depths. Yet when we dare to look at our shadow parts, we find gold. For only then is there hope for integration, and ultimately, wholeness.

When Aphrodite is activated in us, we feel sensual and powerful in our feminine bodies. Indeed, we are charismatic and attract others like moths to flame. Aphrodite is an alchemical goddess who brings consciousness to relationship, and thus, change. She teaches us to be independent, yet vulnerable.

These words, by the poet, David Whyte, remind us that it is not power, control, and perfection that bring us love, but exposing our beating heart, our frailties, and vulnerability:

“We have the strange idea, unsupported by any evidence, that we are loved and admired only for our superb strength, our far-reaching powers, and our all-knowing competency. Yet in the real world, no matter how many relationships may have been initiated by strength and power, no marriage or friendship has ever been deepened by these qualities. After a short, erotic honeymoon, power and omnipotence expose their shadow underbellies and threaten real intimacy, which is based on mutual vulnerability. After the bows have been made to the brass god of power, we find in the privacy of relationship that same god suddenly immobile and inimitable to conversation. As brass gods ourselves, we wonder why we are no longer loved in the same way we were at our first appearance. Our partners have begun to find our infallibility boring and, after long months or years, to find us false, frightening, and imprisoning.

We have the same strange idea in work as we do in love: that we will engender love, loyalty and admiration in others by exhibiting a great sense of power and competency. We are surprised to find that we garner fear and respect but forgo the other, more intimate magic. Real, undying loyalty in work can never be legislated or coerced; it is based on a courageous vulnerability that invites others by our example to a frontier conversation whose outcome is yet in doubt.

We have an even stranger idea: that we will finally fall in love with ourselves only when we have become the totally efficient organized organism we have always wanted to be and left all of bumbling ineptness behind. Yet in exactly the way we come to find love and intimacy with others through vulnerability, we come to those same qualities in ourselves through living out the awkwardness of not knowing, of not being in charge.

We try to construct a life in which we will be perfect, in which we will eliminate awkwardness, pass by vulnerability, ignore ineptness, only to pass through the gate of our lives and find, strangely, that the gateway is vulnerability itself. The very place we are open to the world whether we like it or not.”

I'm looking forward to celebrating 14 years of marriage to Rob this weekend in Asheville.  Here's to love... At Last... Happy Valentine's Day!