Looking For Love Part 1
We spend most of our lives looking for love in all the wrong places
Ever since I was a young girl the subject of love captivated me. Pauline, my best friend from primary school and I would talk endlessly about falling in love, our equivalent of a knight in shining armour coming to save us from ourselves.
Our conversations tempered with the innocence of youth and tempered with the absence of passed down wisdom from the adults around us meant that no one taught us one very important and valuable lesson. Before you can truly find love with someone else you need to get on board with loving yourself.
It’s so easy and society perpetuates this that once you meet the right person not only will your life be better, but so will you. We place so much power and expectation into how another person can make us feel, charging them with the impossible job of fixing our own happiness.
In my case fast-forward forty years later and the expected love of those youthful years failed to materialise. One of us did get married, albeit unconventional (that's me by the way) and only after I hit fifty and that road has and continues to be a rocky one to say the least. But this is not the story I wish to go into right now.
Back then no one told Pauline and I that looking for love started with us. Instead we joined millions of others who like herds of cattle spent most of our lives looking for love outside ourselves, which in many cases ends up being a lot like playing Russian Roulette. The thing that doesn't get taught is how to cultivate and practice self-love in the everyday.
Despite all of the above I’ve never been afraid of loneliness. I’ve been going to the movies on my own for years. I frequent restaurants and bars on my own without blinking. I go off on days away and weekends to boost my creativity or simply take time out. I love early morning walks around my local neighbourhood. And there’s nothing better I like than hitting an early morning café with a mug of lemon and ginger tea and grabbing a corner and sitting down to write.
For many years I was blind sided believing a relationship would complete me. I was wrong. What I needed was to bring the alive and awake part of me to a relationship and that is what completes (whether you’re in a relationship or not) not the other way round.
Authentic self-love is naturally seductive. The radiant vibration of a woman or man in love with her/himself is both felt and admired and its lure is often irresistible. I recall a keynote speech a few years ago by the African American writer, Beatrice Berry. She had the audience howling with laughter as she recounted a story about a woman desperate for romantic love who expended her energies focusing outside herself for love. She ended her talk with these final words, "Desperation is the worst perfume." The audience roared, most of the laughter I imagine was down to many of us who could at some point recognise ourselves.
My parents despite being married for over forty years had a relationship I would describe as tense and fraught. This seems to have rubbed off on my eight siblings and I’m the only member of this line of the family who has legally gotten married. So when asked to contribute to the new film, Looking For Love by pioneer film maker, Menelik Shabaaz I was hesitant. But the longer I debated whether I did have something of value to share the more I knew it was important for me to get on board.
The question that helped me get this was the realisation: 'Had I not arrived at that point of my life of really understanding that whatever relationship you're in its level of success is dependent on the quality of your own ability to love yourself and to be able to nurture that love?' 'Hadn’t my life journey so far been all about learning this lesson, over and over again?'
The essence of this message and the one I’ve been chasing now for some forty years and more is captured gracefully by the mystic Rumi who wrote, "You wander from place to place. You hunt for a necklace of diamonds. It is already around your neck." These words are also echoed through these words attributed to the Buddha, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
I’m curious. ‘How are you cherishing the necklace of diamonds around your own neck?’
In Part 2 of Looking For Love I share more ideas on creative ways to practically cultivate and invest in looking for love closer to home.
Looking For Love premiers tomorrow at BFI, Southbank, UK, https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/default.asp?BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=lookingforlove