Why not love?
Some people are naturally loving. I’m not one of them. For as long as I can remember, my first impulse has been to dislike, to feel angry, and to judge. I have fought and hurt many people unnecessarily; and I have often needed to apologise, even go through mediation, to restore a relationship damaged by my anger.
It’s not something I’m proud of.
But one day five or six years ago, as I felt myself growing furious over nothing in particular, three words dropped into mind: ‘Why not love?’
Three simple words, one little invitation. Why not love?
If it had been an order, ‘Thou shalt love’, I would have rejected it out of hand. A reactive soul who has always deeply resented being told what to do, I would have pointed out the ways I had been offended. I would have explained exactly why it was reasonable for me to be angry; with arrogance and disdain, I would have wielded my brutal honesty like a weapon; and with sickening self-righteousness, I would have justified the ensuing destruction.
But I wasn’t given a command. I was asked a question; and because of this, I felt surprisingly free. I didn’t have to react. Instead, I could engage with the question, holding it gently and turning it to and fro as I looked at it from different angles.
As I did so, I realised I had an option. I could choose to go with my usual motivators, anger and fear, and lash out yet again; or I could take a deep breath, count to ten, and find a way to love.
Which option I took depended on who I wanted to be. Did I pride myself on being an angry little girl, flailing about and striking at will; or did I want to try a new path, which might just lead to kindness?
The choice was obvious. I knew what sort of adult I wanted to become.
Why not love? I unclenched my hands, and slowly breathed out. I don’t remember exactly how that day ended so many years ago; but I can say that there were no fireworks or angry tears. Instead, I recall a sense of lush green growth, a sign of renewal and hope.
I have carried the question with me ever since. Of course, there still have been many times when I have chosen not to love – always a mistake, and always more harmful to me than to anyone else. But thanks to the question, there have been many more times when I have opted to try; and in so doing, I am awkwardly stumbling my way into the wide open spaces of freedom.