The 1968 musical, Oliver!, made a long-lasting impression on me from the first time I viewed it on the big screen. One song in particular touched me deeply. “Where is Love?” portrayed a commonly-held belief of the time: that one must seek and earn love, that although esoteric in nature, it is an object that can be obtained, held, and controlled:
“Where is love?
Does it fall from skies above?
Is it underneath the willow tree
That I’ve been dreaming of?”
The poet, Jalal ad-Din Mohammed Balkhi (Rumi), puts another spin on the search when he realized centuries ago that,
“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere, they’re in each other all along.” (Coleman Barks, Essential Rumi)
Carol suggests a fruitlessness in the search when she wrote about the First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble awareness condition:
“When you look for love you will never find it. When you love without looking, you will never lose it.” (Perspectrum, manuscript)
Perhaps it’s not about seeking. Maybe it’s not about finding. Could I be seeking what cannot be found? Am I in search of a ghost, a figment of my imagination?
What Is Love?
Ask and you’ll probably get as many different definitions as there are people to provide them. I got my definitions – yes, I have more than one – mostly from others, like my parents, my friends, my intimate relationships. For the most part, my definitions are based on my experience of relationships. I have no one-size-fits-all definition – though I use the same word to describe a large variety of experiences, needs, and desires.
I recognize my need for affection, kindness, respect, and appreciation. So, I seek them from others – not recognizing them within me already. Maybe the fact that it is already within me, seeking will not result in finding UNLESS I search within. Of course, that’s likely to result in not finding, too, because I cannot find me by looking for me outside me. Perhaps that is the blindness Rumi speaks of when he wrote:
“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was.” (Rumi)
Could Marc Almond be correct when he penned the words to his hit song, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?
It’s lovely there where love becomes
A drug to fill your need
Just believe in you!
And learn to love yourself
Has it been there in me all along? Did I not find it because I was looking in all the wrong places? Hmm. I wonder.