You may talk, and I may listen, and miracles might happen. ~ Ernest Hemingway

There is a popular belief among anthropologists that you must immerse yourself in an unfamiliar world to understand your own. Relationships serve as our mirrors – they allow us an opportunity for a deepening. Love peels us. It peels the layers of our bark, our false identities, masks, conditioning and limiting beliefs, so that we come closer to our true essence, our sweetest most natural fragrance.

Love peels us. Humbles us. A relationship of deep love demands us to look into ourselves, and all of our layers, until we see ourselves clearly. And by seeing into ourselves, we see into another, more clearly. This is intimacy: into-me-see. To accept and see another, as they are, and be able to pay attention to them, as they are and as they need, is what long-lasting love is then built upon.

Love dissolves the boundaries between us, this is when intimacy happens. We may often think we are losing ourselves, but we are only finding ourselves – we are only losing that which isn’t true. We are here to meet one another, and through experiencing each other, understand our own self, while also deepening the inner world of another.

And yet not all is to be known.

The truth is that we’ll never fully know all the inner parts of our partners, just like we’ll never fully know our own; there will always be something wild unknown in us as human beings, just like wild unknown parts of the lands that our relationship is. But we can choose to love and be loved. And through that conscious decision, we become not only lovers, we become mystics, exploring and re-exploring each other no matter how many years we’ve lived together under the same roof. This is the art of loving.

The idea of a house and a white fence are not what binds a couple for a lifetime; it is our ability to adapt in any climate and adjust through the changing shapes as we walk along the wilderness. And sometimes learning, or re-learning, to build our fire of sticks, as primitive as it may sound, is actually the path forward and towards each other.

Along the paths of life, and the circling staircases, no matter how long we’ve lived together under the same roof, we must have the humility to accept that we’ll never know it all – and that our inner worlds change, and there is always something new to discover in our partner. Like a painting, there will always be a new shade, nuance, angle, the way the light touches his unshaved face in the morning. I know that knowing gives us stability in life, so we want to have something in definition, within a box, so that we feel more soothed in what will happen – so that we give ourselves some stability in this uncertain thing called life, and love. But love is an art, life is an art, and we can’t put all into a box nor predict all in the future – we need trust, and we also need mutual effort.

The best lovers in life are the ones who pay attention. To nurture means to tend to that which is now, in this present moment, as it is, as it needs to be. That’s love. It isn’t about the way we always kissed – it is about how we need to be kissed and held right now, in this moment. This is the art of love: re-discovering, re-learning and re-exploring the caring, the holding and the kissing.

And the greatest magic? Perhaps it’s in our little attempts, no matter how unsuccessful sometimes, in trying to understand another person. We may not always understand them fully, nor know what it’s like to live in their inner world, for it is difficult to understand foreign worlds, different languages, and paths upon which we haven’t walked ourselves; but the magic is in our attempt. And in our compassion, openness, and willingness, to ask, how are you, how do you feel, what do you need, how may I make your day better? Relationships are an opportunity for a deepening. The magic is in the reaching of our hands beyond the lines that separate us, and then, to sit, listen and learn.

Love is a kingdom for the brave that can only be reached by those willing to surrender, trust, be selfless and sacrifice parts of themselves. Because love demands all of us, because love gives all of itself. It isn’t about ego, it isn’t about half way in half way out, it is all or nothing. It is a greedy and ruthless kingdom that will ask you to face your own self on the way in, and all along, you’ll have to make choices. There are choices to be made always. Self responsibility and accountability, emotional maturity, integrity, self awareness, devotion, respect, loyalty … and all, with a kindness and patience of rhythm; and a deep humility, that we’ll never know it all, but that’s the beauty of it.

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

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Cover art is film still for Written on the Wind (1956) by Douglas Sirk, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons. 

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