The great theologian and philosopher, Augustine once defined love as “Amo: Volo Ut Sis”. Translated from Latin, this means “I Love: I Will That You Are”. What this statement implies is that the only thing love requires is for us to just “be”; as love is about full acceptance, of ourselves and others.

Love is a sense of being and in the being is the meaning. Love is not a thing. It’s a consciousness, faceless and undefined, dissolving of the boundaries; and it is always present and always feeling, yet not a feeling desired to be felt. Love is a seeing and of being seen, a knowing and of being known, not of flesh, but through the flesh. 

The willing ego when it says “volo ut sis” in its highest manifestation and vibration, is not out of possession but rather to show itself capable of godly, divine love – like how God created humans and loves them without desiring them to be a specific thing. God created us only because he willed us to exist. And we willed that, too. Life is a relationship and like any other relationship, it requires mutual decision making and it requires attention. Life is the union between flesh and soul, born only of love.

We all have some ideas, beliefs and imaginations, conditioned to our early childhood upbringing, of what “love” should be and of what relationships should look like but reality defies us. We learn that things have their own “living” and ever-changing shapes. It is natural to want to categorize, label and define everything, including human beings, because this soothes our fears and gives us a sense of stability and control in this uncertain thing called life; and surely, when something is “defined” it is shaped in a box that is perhaps easier to understand or at the very least, “see”. 

But that’s not how life works. That’s not how love works. We are complex human beings, multi-layered and impossible to categorize; we are ever-changing and ever-evolving, as the souls of our feet walk our own unique paths, and the souls of our hands weave our own languages. And relationships are also complex – moving through their own phases of harmony, disharmony, repair, where each phase carries its own beauty scent.

Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin, Paysage au Couple, via Wikimedia Commons

How do we love? 

Do we not love a rose for its mere existence of being a rose, as it is unmistakably itself?

When someone asks me to write “how-to-steps” on happiness in relationships or how to build intimacy or how to evolve spiritually, I just don’t want to do that. Because there are no steps, no directions, no quick fixes; because each relationship, and each individual human being, has its own rhythm and language. Look not in the books but into the eyes of the person you love. 

Sometimes I wonder why there are those who, seemingly, have the ability to love a temple, a statue or a deity in the untouched, or far-away sky, while treating the person beside them with disrespect and unable to love them. And perhaps it’s because humans can hurt us; we make mistakes, we change, we can’t be controlled, we can’t ever be fully known, we can’t live in straight lines nor boxes, and sometimes we hurt others. Unlike statues or far-away Divinity, we are imperfect. Can we surrender enough to love the imperfect and the changing lines of life?

Love is not there to please us or even make us happy always; it is here to challenge us, transform us and grow us; to push us beyond our own conditioned understandings, limitations and expand our perspectives, thereby expanding our consciousness. Love is here to peel away the false identities and conditionings, revealing our true essence of self, releasing our most natural sweetest fragrance. Love is here to sometimes bring us to our knees in the humbleness that we are, but it is always worthy.

Many mediums will tell you that one of the greatest regrets from those on the other side is our soul regretting we didn’t open our heart to love completely and that we didn’t value the importance of relationships; of all the times we didn’t follow our hearts, of all the times we wanted to express our love but didn’t because we were afraid that it wasn’t mutual or because we’d look too sensitive or sentimental or because we’d be rejected or abandoned. 

Yet love is never about the other person anyway; it is about the enormity of the feeling and being that we experience as it is a pure consciousness that flows through our body and molds us into the person we always were beneath the bark of our skin. Love peels us. We might feel that we are losing ourselves, but we are actually more alive through it than we realize. We shed judgments, limitations and old belief systems to uncover our soul. Love peels our false identities, ideas and masks, and it brings us closer to our beating heart.

No matter how many years we’ve lived with someone under the same roof, we need to have the humility to accept that we don’t know everything about another person, because they too, as us, change and evolve beneath the shroud of their skin.

A love that pays attention is a love that is alive. 

Paying attention means putting down our phones, switching off the TV, and looking into each other’s eyes, unassuming that we know everything about our partner. Paying attention means seeing the fears and doubts behind our beloved’s smile after a long day of work and asking, “Tell me my love, what’s going on, how can I make your day better?” We need to have the humility to challenge our own ways and ideas, when new insights emerge, and accept that we change, and to re-discover, re-learn, and re-adjust. Often times in relationships we give what we want to receive, rather than what our partner needs.

Paying attention means touching, holding, kissing and caring for our partner not in the way we always did, but in the way they need to, right now.

To pay attention means that we love our partner and accept them as they are, seeing them as they are, accepting all of their parts, present and gone, shiny and dark, because all of us constantly change. It means that we’ll have to sit by their side through the sadness, failures, and rejections. It means we’ll sit beside them and together, holding their hand, say goodbye to all the dreams that never happened, and the people that they never became, and their many selves that went away. And we love them, still, and through it all.

Love that pays attention sees the beauty of our lover every single day, and is responsible, responsive, and alive to it.

We make love in so many ways, not just with our genitals. We make love with our hands, scent, sounds, words, and ears. And when we pay attention, we fall in love all over again, and again, because we see with the ever passionate eyes of gratitude, discovering new shades in our partner, like art. This is the Art of Loving

Volo ut sis.

I will that you are.

I want you to be.

I want every day for you.

I want every moment for you.

I love your mere existence in my world, in my life, as you are, as it be. 

Sometimes, things don’t work out in life. Engagements, marriages, relationships, and friendships fall apart. We continue on our individual paths and that’s okay. But getting to know another person deeply is what we will end up remembering. The way they touched our heart and soul is what we will remember; and for all the ways in which through them we experienced an opportunity for a deepening, seeing parts of ourselves that we never did before, is what we’ll end up remembering and what we need to be grateful for. This is what makes life beautiful and meaningful. And how we expressed our love, rather than what the other did, is what we will remember at the end. Because that’s what matters.

This is why one of the most intimate things we can ever do, is just hold the safe space for someone to be themselves, as they are, as they feel. But to do that, we need to first have that capacity within our own selves, to hold our own selves through all of our changing shapes, forms, and phases, with acceptance, patience and compassion. The next time you feel like “crap” I want you to ask yourself: Can you imagine being okay with this feeling, without judgment, criticism, shame, blame or being hard on yourself? 

Build a bridge to love, build a fortress around it with trust, loyalty, tenderness, respect, and nurturing. Protect it. Hearts are fragile and we are responsible when holding a heart. Love is everything and it is worth everything. And wherever love beckons you to go, you must go. Love deeply with long touches; love wholebodily and wholeheartedly. Hold love preciously. Stay tender, stay curious, kiss slowly, appreciate love’s movements, be responsive and alive to it, and pay attention to one another every day.

It is a witnessing of the eyes.

It is deep listening.

It is intentional dialogues.

And in the words of Frida Kahlo, “find someone who looks at you like you are magic.”

For more of my writings, browse through my Art of Love.

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Cover art by Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin, Les Amoureux du Printemps, via Wikimedia Commons.

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