Hearts

 

ThomasheartI am a sucker for heart shapes. I am not sure if I can explain exactly why.  I suppose a therapist could dig through my psyche and talk about my need to love and be loved, etc. and so on ad nauseam.  Maybe I am just a sentimental soul.  I have an acquaintance (Hi, Linda!) who posts often on FB about people having love in their hearts and I appreciate her attitude.

Here are some of my first experiments along those lines.  I expect that variations on the heart theme will be a focus of my work for the next  while.

 

cropped-heart-shirts.jpg

These were the first successful batch.  Pinching and folding layers of damp cotton and keeping everything neat and tidy is quite the challenge.  Translating the curvy heart shape into a tidy straight line before tieing off the bundle can lead to inventive, colorful swearing.  I am not sure what I am going to say when I get around to trying stars.  Mandalas are already giving me headaches.

But what do hearts MEAN?  Love, of course.  But love take many forms; agape, eros, philia, ludus, pragma, philautia, storge.  I won’t define them here.  Google is your friend.  Go ahead, look them up and have a  long think.

IMHO, the different forms of love are not as distinct as the philosophers would have you think.  The edges are blurry, soft, and easily blended into each other depending upon circumstances, mood, the alignment of the stars, current bank balance, and whatever else you want to add to the list.

And so many times what we may mistake for love is really our ego hollering at us. There is a song that says, “Love hurts.”  Hell, yes, it does. It hurts when we don’t get our own way about it, when we cling to expectations, daydreams,and preconceived notions. When we cannot see the real person in front of us through the fog of our own pain. When we try to control situations and make them fit some predetermined, idealised script.

But, then. . . is that really love?  When our own attachments and expectations get in the way of seeing the other person clearly?  or is it an illusion?  a neurochemical stew triggered by hidden memories and the reptilian brain, fueled by hormones and DNA’s imperative to replicate?

I wonder if what we call “love” in most cases is really a trade-off of some kind. Some of the most honest people I have ever known have been prostitutes and  recovering addicts. There are no mincing words or polite euphemisms.  They tell it like it is; straight up, unvarnished, and blunt.

In some ways, pick your own examples, we prostitute ourselves for what we may mistakenly believe is “love” when it may only be status and security or fantasy fulfillment. I have heard it said that cats are such popular pets because of their resemblance to human babies; they trade being cute and cuddly for food and shelter by triggering our nurturing instincts.  And we “love” our cats (or at least, some of us do.  I realize not everyone is a cat person.)  Or are we addicted to the neurochemical changes brought on by_______________________ and thus we “love”___________________? (You fill in the blanks.)

There have been a few times in my life when I have experienced genuine love not fuzzed by ego and free of social contracts.  I am not sure which of the aforementioned categories I would put it in.  The others looked at me and SAW me; saw past the facade of personality and the layers of life; saw my soul and did not weigh, measure, judge, discriminate, or try to barter.  They set aside their agenda and were simply present with me. Just there.  I could drop the masks, not fear, and be blessedly still.  I knew that I was okay, no matter what peculiarities and quirks I may carry around; however id and ego may manifest, they saw my soul and accepted it, bruised and dirty as it may be.  All they asked in return was that I try to meet their regard in the same way.

No, we did not run off to some castle in the sky and live happily ever after. I came close to shaving my head, donning orange robes, and heading for the monastery but life would not have it that way, I had other responsibilities and karma to burn. I got on with the messy business of living, carrying those encounters with me to bring out when I need reminding and to maybe. . . somehow. . .someday. . . translate them into art and share them with others.

 

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