Working Out My Love Muscle
It’s that time of year again. It’s the day hated by most—tolerated by some—welcomed by few.
You already know. Valentine’s Day 2014.
I remember having to bring Valentine’s Day cards or, worse yet for an anti-craftsperson like me, make cards for each student in my grade school class.
Well not much has changed. Valentine’s Day is still being forced upon me. At least I’m not obligated to give anything. But, as a single girl, I’m bombarded by the launch of new dating apps—the proliferation of jewelry ads that pop-up everywhere—a YouTube channel dedicated to the best, sweetest, sure-to-make-you-cry-if-you-have-a-heart proposals of 2013. Okay that last one doesn’t exist, but thank God for Glamour because they compiled the 12 Most-Viewed Marriage Proposal Videos Ever and I’m watching every last one of them right after I schedule this post.
Why, you ask?!?!?!?
Because this year and every Valentine’s Day from here on out, I’m going to be working on my Love Muscle (no, fellas…not that one).
The Love Muscle is that little thing…you know…the extra piece of…well actually it’s just metaphorical. It’s not the heart. It’s more than that. It’s not an emotion. It’s more than that.
I describe the Love Muscle as the thing that inspires our creativity, connects us to each other, and compels us to search for meaning in our lives—the something inside of us that urges us to transcend our, sometimes, small selves.
I’m suggesting a three-step plan for maximizing the Love Muscle. And it applies whether you’re single, in a relationship, or in a Facebook “It’s complicated” situation.
The three steps: Getting Lean. Staying Fit. Applying Resistance.
Sometimes we need to experience everything that love is not before we can experience love.
When you’re working out, you’re trimming away the fat within and without. It means you’re not staying involved with people or circumstances that don’t broaden your life.
Love’s purpose is to open you to experiencing life in the fullest way imaginable. It’s not something someone gives to you.
Getting lean means stripping away all the parts of you that are not love.
Once you’ve had a taste of love, staying fit means committing to it as a daily practice. With each thought and action, you either move closer to love or toward fear.
Valentine’s Day should really be stripped of its romantic-only vibe in exchange of providing a national day for us to reflect on who we are in relationship to love.
Ask yourself: How have I been loving or fearful? Accepting or clingy? Giving or grasping? Understanding or punishing?
To be fit in love means to look inward when the signs of lovelessness appear in your life. The cure for this is always within.
To grow your love muscle, you must apply increasing resistance. You do this by staying open when you’re inclined to shut down—by not detaching or scurrying away to the mountains but involving yourself fully in life—by not blaming others for what you perceive as an absence of love.
Each one of us can love. We can love deeply, poetically. We can love and not love. We don’t need love. It needs us. Love doesn’t exist in our world unless we choose to act on it. It’s similar to any other great idea—a novel, a song, an invention or a business. And an idea is worthless unless and until you make it real by your effort.
So this Valentine’s Day, I hope others will join me in giving our Love Muscle a good workout.
I’m excited to celebrate this day and it won’t be spent hoping for flowers or a serendipitous-lock-eyes-run-in. And it certainly won’t be spent lamenting being a single girl. I’ll spend it, in some small way, trying to do right by love and to do my part to make love real in the world.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all who choose to love!
This post is in memory of my friend’s mom who recently passed away. Those who knew her would say that she made loving look way too easy.