I love my current Facebook profile photo of me and Ariel on the beach. Many of my friends do too.
"I love this picture. But why did you change that other picture of you in the swimsuit?" Because I got too many unsolicited and sometimes unsavory messages from strangers.
These days, it seems you can't be online without getting messages from strangers. It used to be just spam mail, but now you get them on Twitter, Skype, and just about anywhere online. There are a lot of people looking for 'love' online (or friendship, or whatever they choose to call what they're looking for).
I used to dismiss many of these people as 'nuts' or 'bored, with nothing better to do.' But I've come to realize that these people are just looking for the same thing that everyone else is: the simple, basic answers to the simple basic questions in life.
What makes me happy? What is happy? What is love? Is this person 'the one'? (And several others, but since I'm dealing with love in this post, I'll stay away from God for now. Although, I believe love and spirituality can be found in each other.)
We ask those questions all our lives. Sometimes we think we've found the answers. But then something happens and we start to doubt what we think we've found. Sometimes, the answers are there, but we may not know we've found them.
I think one of my friends may have found the answer, or at least, a large part of it.
I was hanging out with a group of girls from grad school a couple of weeks ago. A handful of them are graduating next month (congrats!) and we were all in good spirits. So when girls get together in the company of spirits, we talk about guys...what else? (Yes, guys, we can be like you too.)
One of the girls' boyfriend was in town to see her over the weekend. They live and work in different places and he hops on a train to come see her on the weekends. It was the first time I met him.
"You guys look so cute together!" I said to her. And they do!
Her answer to my silly, girlie gushing was so simple and profound that it stuck with me, and I've been thinking about it since. That is saying a lot. How often do you get simple and profound wisdom out of Happy Hour chatter?
"He's such a wonderful person. He makes me a much better person. I feel so calm when I'm with him, and he just inspires me to want to be a better person."
I think she just nailed it...the answer to that eternal question we girls like to ask. (Is he the one? How do you know when you've met the one? Etc.)
Let me qualify that though. I think the jury is still out on whether there is such a thing as 'the one' person or the soul mate. Some people believe in it, and have found their twin soul. Some people have experienced more than one 'the one' in their lives. Some have loved and lost. Some feel like they will never be found.
But the answer my friend found relates more to the questions about relationships that people ask themselves at a more mature stage of their lives, than in their adolescent years. It's no longer just enough to ask: "Am I crazy about him/her?" But: "Do I see myself growing old with him/her?" "What is it going to be like with this person when we've been together a long time?" "Can I even wake up every day with this person?"
Regardless of what your situation is, and what you believe, I think there's wisdom to be gleaned from my friend's response. What she was talking about is love...and the power of love. This goes beyond the usual head over heels, stars in the sky, butterflies in the gut feelings we've been taught to associate with romantic love. It's about two people, and the power their feelings for each other can create.
If a person can inspire another so much, it is a powerful force indeed! And the same can be said of all forms of love: that between a parent and a child (my kids make me want to be a better person every day), between friends, between siblings, relatives, and between a mentor and a younger person (a teacher and a student, a coach and an athlete, etc.).
And then there is a form of love that we usually overlook. Self love.
As a yogi, I believe that the center of love resides in the anahata (the heart chakra). It's easy to find it. It's in your chest, approximately four fingers below your clavicle. Try touching it. Close your eyes and visualize a warm green light all around you emanate from that center. The fourth chakra is usually represented as a lotus flower, with 12 petals. This is where you feel compassion, unconditional love and emotions.
The belief that love comes from deep within each of us, and that there is a spirituality (be it God or otherwise) within us that inspires this love is common across most religions in the world. It may be taught and represented differently, but the premise is the same.
Going back to the heart chakra. If you're still touching that spot, physiologically, this is also where the thymus is. The thymus is part of the immune system and produces T-cells, a group of white blood cells.
So now we know why they say love has healing powers, right?
This was written for friends, especially E, who is still looking for answers and S, who just had her fourth baby, and who said to me: "Spring is the season. Love is in the air."
"Ultimately, the reason why love and compassion bring us the greatest happiness is simply that our nature cherishes them above all else. " HH The Dalai Lama.