In the past, I've been very selective of my love - reserved only for those close to me, namely family and friends. I only have so much love to give and I must be careful who I choose to share it with, I thought. If I love too much, reveal too much, become too vulnerable, I'll stretch myself too thin, lose control, and it will only lead to hurt.
But when given freely, without the expectation of reciprocation, our love is infinite. It doesn't take away from us, or make us weak, it makes us stronger. It grants permission to love ourselves. Love heals hurt.
When my heart is full, I feel that I have enough love for everyone in this world.
Of course I don't have to love everyone; it's a matter of holding in my heart the belief that I am capable of loving each person I encounter as much as I love those closest to me. The possibility exists.
And just because I hold love in my heart for someone doesn't mean that I would choose to spend time with them, or always condone their behaviour. It's the recognition and respect of a fellow human being, knowing that no matter what appearance they project to the world, they, like I, crave love, intimacy, and belonging. They are my brother or sister on their unique journey of life.
If we approach each encounter with love and respect, we release our fears, acknowledge our similarities, and open our hearts to a more authentic interaction and meaningful connection.
In practicing love, I try to ask myself after each exchange: Did I leave that person with a little more love than when we first met? Did I add love to their life or perhaps take some away?
When I'm fully present with an open heart, I find myself speaking with people and at moments saying in my mind, "I love you", or "You're beautiful." It may be someone I've known for a long time, or a new friend that I met in the street or at a coffee shop. The thought typically arises when I let go of judgement; when I see, hear, and accept them as they truly are; when I acknowledge their truth and embrace the divine in both of us.
A profound recognition of our similarities; I see myself in them.
It's not important whether that love is reciprocated. When we offer our love freely, with pure intention, it's irrelevant how it's received. The beauty and wholeness we feel exists in the act of loving.
To fully engage in life, we must love. For love elicits life.
So let us not be selective of our love. Let us give it openly and freely - to ourselves, to each other, to each day, and to each beautiful breath of this magnificent moment.
And with that my dear friend, I wish to say… I love you :)