I’ve heard it said that it is more important to love than to be loved. I can see why this would be said; not least because going around endeavoring to be loved is far less effective, even in its own cause, than going around endeavoring to love. The results, on every level of mental, emotional, and social health, are much greater when living the strategy of choosing to love.
Nevertheless, there is something irreplicable about the effect of being loved. One is not a substitute for the other. Being loving will not satisfy certain aspects of the fulfillment of our natural and healthy psyche that rely on being—and feeling—loved.
Not that I am advocating going around attempting to get others to love us. It’s a losing battle when approached that way. What I am speaking of is the importance of being love-able. This is an idea that I owe to Stephen Cowan, Taoist pediatrician and sage.
The essence of being love-able is: Are you letting love in? Are you reachable by love? Even if it’s just a smile; even if it’s just a moment with a friend; even if it’s sunlight, landing on your skin. Are you love-able? Are you reachable by love?
There are two different aspects of being loved. One is being reachable by the love that is straight from the Divine—or from the Universal Shen if you prefer. This is the love that is the foundation of the circulatory system of all sentient beings. We need this love in order to feel the fullness of the blood pumping through our hearts.
The willingness to receive love on that level is the best anti-anxiety medication on the market. And, given the amount of free-floating anxiety that is prevalent in our world today, it seems as though a lot of us have gone off our meds, as far as remembering the very basics of being loved. Re-opening to being love-able is necessary for healing the free-floating anxiety that most people are experiencing these days. Opening up to being love-able on this level is like a homecoming as to why we are even still here in the first place.
But that’s just part one. The other part is opening to the love of individual living beings. This individualized love contains the universal love that we absolutely need for our free-floating existential anxiety, but it is flavored by the particularity of other beings. When that love comes to us—and we take it in—we are also taking in that very particular human flavoring, and this is a profoundly necessary alchemy.
From the love that comes to us from others, with both its universal blessing and its individualized qualities, if we are love-able enough to allow it to reach us, we are changed in ways that we cannot change ourselves. There are wounds that do not heal in isolation. And we may have gotten used to isolation. We may have gotten so used to isolation that, even when we’re not in isolation, we’re in isolation. We may no longer allow ourselves to be love-able enough to be genuinely alchemized, metamorphosed, and healed in ways that no amount of “working on ourselves,” by ourselves, can affect.
For too many of us, there has been a solitude on the inside, which, in essence, has been a starvation of the alchemy that we all need to heal in the deepest and most intimate places. We need to let in love, and I hate to say it, but we need to let in human love for the ways in which it is not generic, for the ways in which it is treacherous (because of how uniquely and perhaps bizarrely constituted that love may be) because it is those very idiosyncratic eccentricities of human loving and being loved that reach into us, and stir the depths.
This doesn’t happen by just rubbing up against other human beings in the rock tumbler of life. Yes, the rock tumbler effect does polish off some of our rough places on the outside. But love, warmth, and the tenderness of intimacy are what allow alchemy to our innermost interior. There are places inside of us that we will open to nothing but love. And that is by design! Flowers open only when it is warm. They show their hearts, and they show their true faces, when it is warm—and only then.
It won’t stay warm forever. But when it is warm enough, the flowers say, “Yes, I will take my chance.”
I will take my chance to open—not forever, but for right now, in this moment, when I could allow you to reach me, stir me, and touch the places that I have not been able to heal on my own. Not because you are trying to be my healer. Not because we necessarily even talk about what ails me. But because your love is unique, a universal love mixed with irreplicable qualities, in recognition of mine—and I let that in.
Take your chance, this summer!
To learn more about Fire element healing, join Thea at one of her upcoming Fire events. Fire Re-Ignition is happening on June 25th, 2023, and Whole Heart Acupuncture Fire is happening on July 8-9, 2023.
To join the discussion, find us on my Perennial Medicine discussion listserv (all are welcome)