One of my commitments to myself is to be conscious of life’s opportunities for deepening growth and meaning. I’ve missed many prospects for valuable learning, bonding and enjoyment by being caught up in the past or the future, focusing on the negative things around me, or incessantly checking my texts and emails. I now set intentions for every experience, so that I won’t miss out on life’s most extraordinary gifts.
Sitting in my airline seat waiting for the rest of the passengers to board and settle, I thought about my intentions for this trip. I was heading to Scottsdale, Arizona for a spa vacation with six women, some I’d met only a few times, others I’ve known for more than a decade. When I asked myself what my intention for this trip would be, the answer came quickly: I want to give them love.
My seatmate arrived. He was a tall, round man, with thick, hairy arms. He plunked into his seat, inadvertently knocking my arm from the armrest. He apologized and then said, “There’s enough room for both of us,” in a way that sounded more like a hopeful affirmation, than a fact. I smiled, pressed into the wall beside me and continued to craft my intention for the trip.
How could I give them love? My brain, a hyper-logical wonder, offered the following answer: Show them love by being nice to them. My heart, a rose layered with velvety ruffles of intuition, empathy, and wisdom, chimed in: Loving is not about being nice.
You can be nice and unloving at the same time. Nice is something people do to make others happy and gain their favor, or approval. Most warring leaders, politicians, and opposing lawyers are usually nice to each other, thankfully. Nice has a payoff, it’s superficial and sometimes manipulative. It’s also conditional; if the object of your niceness disgusts, rejects, or harms you, you may withdraw your niceness.
Loving is seeing another’s essence and inherent value without trying to change them, or get anything in return. It’s forgiveness in advance, it has no strings attached, and requires nothing from anyone outside of the lover.
My seatmate’s arm was compressing mine now, and his head began lolling from side to side. The plane’s wheels had barely left the tarmac, and he’d already collapsed into a deep sleep. I pulled my arm out from beneath his, resting it in my lap.
Nice would sit here quietly frustrated and inwardly complaining about this man, I thought. Love looks deeper. It recognizes his exhaustion and feels the discomfort of being almost too big to fit into one seat. It sinks beneath the surface situation and acknowledges that something painful, fear-based, or stressful has a hold on this man, and it’s led to his current physical state. Love understands.
Yet, love has boundaries too. If the man attacked me, or fell over into my lap, self-love would defend, or correct it. Loving is never self-harming. Love takes intelligent action and removes a threat, while continuing to love.
In the context of my spa trip, love would be in its ideal climate–one where it could flourish. I could offer myself in service to it, without the need for setting boundaries. Love would manifest in my willingness to listen, understand, acknowledge, encourage, connect, and compassionately confront, if requested and helpful. Love would not require me to agree, or approve of anyone’s choices; it would call on me to surrender judgment for empathy. It would also demand that I become emotionally naked when my life’s mistakes, pain, or suffering could serve.
Genuinely loving is much richer and challenging than being nice ever could be.
My seatmate started snoring, laboring to pull oxygen into his body. I put all of my attention on my heart center and sent him wishes of restoration, peace, emotional healing and radiant health. I visualized putting my arms around him and telling him that he was worthy, lovable, and here on purpose.
I loved him.
I left the plane feeling light-filled, alive, and grateful that I hadn’t settled for just being nice.
Beautiful, as always. Thank you. 🙂
Hugs to you, Sister <3
Very well done!
Thank you, Pat!
This was wonderful to read, thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thank you, Amy. I’m grateful you gave me your time to read it. 🙂
This is beyond perfect. Thank you.
What a lovely comment, thank you!
Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences. I
Resonate deeply with with this story, and being authentic in my interactions with everyone has been a big part of my healing practice.
Like this alot!
Cynthia, I can’t stop thinking about this beautiful story you have shared. Especially since my 23 yr old son sounds so much like the man you sat with on the plane. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of the non-judgemental love you sent to him. Just think of what a wonderful world this could be if everyone could ‘see’ others the way you can, to have such compassion and to see a perfect soul instead of a seemingly imperfect vessel and to be able to understand his struggles and his pain.
Perfect read and the perfect time… Thanks for sharing!
How deep and insightful. I am still learning the essence of love…self love and projecting love. My favorite line,” It’s forgiveness in advance, it has no strings attached, and requires nothing from anyone outside of the lover.” Thank you, many blessings and lots of Light.
As women we are taught to be NICE. Often that means we abandon our own needs and even intuition to appease another, all with hope we will be rewarded by their love or approval. Instead love advocates. It stands up for the loved and the lover. It’s a win-win every time. Thank you so much for this!!
I think that was so well said and so beautiful. I feel exactly the same way about love. The story was close to my heart. Thank you.
Thank you for stopping by Elle <3
Thank you, Cynthia. i have struggled with just loving someone without working to change or “save” them for a long time. Finally with your help I’ve fallen in love with me, healed me, and in turn healed others. I am learning to love still but learning every single day! Namaste!
Wow, Nell, good stuff! I’m so happy for you. Thank you for sharing with me. What a gift to my day. <3 Cynthia
This morning I asked the Universe to give me insight on something I was struggling with all night… This story was the answer! Thank you Cynthia!
I am in a relationship with the man of my dreams! He is everything I have asked for. But I have struggled with expectations. Last night he went out with his friends. All people who I trust very much. I couldn’t sleep at all with worry about something bad happening, or if I would recreate situations from my past… (thoughts are like wild horses, right?) I wanted to be mad that he didn’t chose to stay home with me instead. But my struggle is with allowing him to be the person he is. So I was withdrawn, but nice about it. “Love understands” This is something so profound for me! I will meditate on this, thank you for being such an inspired vessel!
Release those expectations and celebrate the gift life is giving you. Life loves YOU, and yes love understands.
The love you give so freely , my heart aches at your sweetness ,xo