I have walked over red hot coals without burning my feet.
But, when I step into romance I often get burned. This is because I ride the wild flow of love all the way to attachment. And as incredible as love is, attachment is just that awful.
Attachment, on the front side, is quite like love. It is the delicious experience of forgetting about oneself, focusing attention on a perfect being: the object of our love.
But on the backside, attachment bites hard, breaking hearts, ignoring needs and offering drama without love. Sure, attachment gives birth to great poetry, fine country songs and unlimited downside sensations; but, it also gives love a bad name, convinces us that we can’t live without someone we haven’t known for long and that our sole goal in life is to please another.
Love flows. It has no purpose and no object. It offers the experience of walking inches off the pavement, untouchable by mundane problems and full of giddy sensations. When it doesn’t lead to attachment it shows the way to “big” love: love of all that is, love of the morning dew, last night’s leftovers and all encompassing sensations of inclusion.
Keeping love from careening into attachment isn’t easy, but here are three secrets that will help you bask in love without the ball and chain of attachment.
Ask yourself, “What am I in love with?”
If there is an object: a person, a place, a thing, a thought, or an experience you are in love with, then it isn’t love. You are already focused on the object and not the flow, and you are already on your way to attachment to that object or person.
I was walking down the street with my friend Bill. He was in love, new love. He loved the crab apple trees in bloom, the cracks in the sidewalk, the blue sky and puffy white clouds. He loved the sound of his own voice, every feeling and newfound relaxation: with nowhere to go, he had already arrived.
A week later I met him for lunch. He had moved from love to attachment. He spoke only of his new girlfriend and was more absent than present. Love was over and he was already speaking of her as “the one,” the woman he will marry.
He was in love with her and only her—meaning that it wasn’t really love; it was attachment to her, and attachment never goes well. Attachment is a poor replacement for love—it’s needy, clingy and stifling.
Love flows freely to and from everything, attachment attaches, making us prisoners. Let go of attachment, flow with love.
Love doesn’t mean that we have to live together, see each other again or darn each other’s socks. It is a deep fulfilling experience that is gone as fast as it arrives.
Attachment is what happens when we try and hold onto love, domesticate it, or use it prove how lovable we are.
Wild horses run free—love is like that. It’s no beast of burden, it doesn’t prove anything, and it won’t succumb to our wishes. It makes us crazy in wonderful ways; it has us stay up late into the night hugging and giggling. It sweeps away our concerns and worries and makes us feel invincible and at the same time loving and loved equally.
Attachment wants something. It wants to be loved, it wants a future, a structure, a solution to the experience of being alone.
If you find yourself enjoying the moment you just might be in love. If you are trying to plan the future, monopolize your sweetheart’s time, or are acting terribly needy then you are likely attached.
If you imagine that you can’t live without him/her, then it is time to do just that. If your own neediness eclipses their best interest, it is time to set them, and yourself, free. Letting go isn’t easy, but the alternative—holding on with white knuckles for dear life—is worse.
Beware of perfection. Nobody is perfect, and love loves warts, burps, poverty, stubbed toes, and broken hearts.
Attachment is super critical, controlling, and serious. If you find yourself trying to make decisions for your sweetie, lecturing your loved one or slipping into the role of disapproving spouse, then attachments have you.
Love cures attachment. It loves what is, what was and what will be. Let the love flow and it will wash attachment away.
I used to run marathons, that is 26 miles 385 yards. It’s a long run and relationships can be a long run as well. The secret to running marathons is to be there each moment running. The secret to successful long term love is being present, not anticipating a future together, leaning on the past or attempting to ever control whether your sweetie stays or goes.
Love will visit a relationship many times over the years. And each time it visits, it will also leave. Trying to corral love, to tame it or hold onto it turns it into attachment.
Let go, let the love flow, let it come and let it go.
Throw a stick in a fast flowing stream. The stick will flow with the stream, get stuck, and flow again. Love is the flow, attachment the stuckness, and we are the lovely little stick in a current of love.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Editor: Travis May