Learning The Art of Love

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This month because of Valentine’s Day I want to write above love. I want to share how I learned about love. First, I want to share my recent insight into love. I figured out a place where love resides. Recently, as I was with friends and family celebrating the coming of my Takoja (Grandson), I realized something – this is where love resides. Friends and family = LOVE.

My first memories about love were from my parents. Over the years, I’ve watched many romantic comedies and I’ve read about love, but nothing compares to my first impression of love. The love between my parents.   

The moments my parents demonstrated love include:

  • The touch my Father gave to my Mother. It was the first time I saw them communicate without words  My Father gently touched my Mother during an interaction. She looked up at him, suddenly the expression on her face changed. I remember her gentleness. This gentleness was so unlike her strong nature.
  • When my Father would try get my Mother’s attention and finally catch her eye, he’d smile and wink. She’d giggle. They’d speak to each other in Lakota. They laughed. I remember the playfulness of this interaction. It was their stolen moment of happiness and laughter.     
  • When I watched my parents slow dance. My Father would lead my Mother across the living room. They’d move in unison to a country song. He was bold, yet graceful as they danced. I remember the vulnerability in her face. They brought out the humanity in each other.

Unfortunately, my parents divorced. There were many things that came between them and they didn’t know how to get past them. Eventually, both my parents began new families, but they remained connected to one another over the years because of us children.

n the end, I knew beyond question they loved one another. When my Father died, my Mother endured his family disrespecting her. My Father’s family rendered those the years my parents spent together and their children, us, as inconsequential. Yet, regardless of the way they treated her at my Father’s funeral and wake, she helped. She mourned. She wept at his grave. I sat with her as she howled in pain for the loss of her first love.

His love, her love, their love transformed me. I bore witness to it. And it’s a wondrous feeling knowing that I am the consequence of such beauty. That’s love.

Over the years, in my own self-discovery, I’ve spent many a night wondering about love. On those nights, I’d be filled with longing. I came to believe that my salvation and love could only be found in another person, but I was wrong. I forgot about myself. I forgot who I am. Love begins with me. I am the one who must seek my own salvation. I have to forgive. I have to let go. I have to believe. Ultimately, love is about faith. And, love ain’t easy.

I’ve learned that there are many other kinds of love. Somehow we’ve come to believe that romantic love, or the love between a husband/wife, husband/husband, wife/wife, or partners is all that there is, but it isn’t. There are many other kinds of love in the world. Love is all around us.

I want to describe a few types of love:

  • Friendship Love – Someone who you respect, admire, listen to their stories, bear witness to their joys, and help them when needed. They do the same for you in return.  
  • Parental Love – It’s the moment when you see your son or daughter for the first time and everything is there – compassion, caretaking, worry, fear, joy, happiness, etc.
  • Erotic Love – it’s the first stage of attraction. It’s when you meet someone and you get ‘the butterflies’. It’s infatuation. It’s magic.
  • Self-Love – This is where love begins. It’s being able to love yourself enough to protect yourself; put your needs and desires first; and it’s about knowing yourself.
  • • Spiritual Love – It’s the connection to the universe; it’s that inspiring feeling when you are in nature; it’s that sense of wonder about our place; and it’s all encompassing.

What I learned from my parents about love is that love transforms. They taught me that love never dies. It changes. It becomes different. The initial urgency quiets to a deliberate pace. The dizzying anticipation relaxes into safety. The discovery and exploration falls into familiarity. Patience abounds. A glance becomes a full conversation. I’m grateful for their lessons.

So this year when you find yourself being without love, start with yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Do something kind for yourself. Celebrate you. Discover what makes you laugh and brings you joy. Remember, love begins with you, so start there.