For most of my life, and maybe still, I thought the word "love" meant a feeling. A state which I would enter when Prince Charming gazed upon me and the rest of the world fell away. A wondrous, magical state where butterflies would circle my head and all the flowers would burst into bloom when I walked past. A gift from the heavens that would rain down upon me, and all I would need to do would be to receive that heavenly gift by opening my arms.
But that is love by Walt Disney. Movie love. Fantasy love.
Real love is hard work.
If you are a young person reading this, you may not have yet realized how difficult and exhausting love can be. But if you are an older person, you have already expended many hours, many years of sweat and tears, pouring out your love on people that might never fully absorb and appreciate it. That might never reciprocate it. On your parents. On your children. On your students and your teachers. On your friends and lovers. On people that have hurt or betrayed you. On people who have walked away despite your love. On people who have cracked or completely broken your heart.
Yet, there is another kind of love. A state of love within your own heart that flows outward without expectation. Without a need for reciprocation. It simply flows.
Imagine that you are a factory of love. You were created in order to exude love. Your entire body, brain, and spirit were fabricated out of love and love is the product you make every day. You don't need anything but food, water, and oxygen to make this love. Maybe not even those. You don't need to receive any love in order to continue making love. Your raison d'etre is to give love. You are a love machine. (1970's disco reference.)
Imagine the love you give a newborn infant. You don't expect anything in return from an infant. The infant only exists in order for you to give it love. The work you do, the feeding, the changing, the burping, the swaddling, the wiping up of numerous bodily fluids, this is all done with love. From love. (Hormones help a lot in achieving this state, of course.)
Perhaps it seems unrealistic to expect anyone to give this kind of love to a stranger. To a neighbor. To a cashier at the grocery store. To another driver on the highway. Perhaps it is. Or maybe, just maybe, it is possible.
If you ARE love.
If you like, you might experiment with being love today. Try it on, like a new pair of shoes. Walk around in love, being love, for a few minutes. Or a few hours. Who knows? You might find you like it. Or maybe that you love it.